(but so hard to find someone who will catch you…)
The quest for true love had spanned a loooooonnnnnggggg period of time.
Love had proven to be as elusive as peace in the Middle East.
Perhaps it was the travel, the lack of roots. Perhaps it was the lengthy list of “perfections” that the ideal life partner should possess. Maybe it was looking in the wrong places, or maybe it was looking too hard in the first place. Some say it was the “forest through the trees thing. Searching high and low, near and far had proven fruitless, but giving up seemed imminent .
For my friend, it sure was found in the strangest, most un-obvious place and circumstances imaginable.
As I walked the boardwalk of Jaffa, the sting of ocean salt strong, waves crashing on the rocks beneath the wooden walkway, and cooked seafood wafting through the air; every sense of my soul was salivating. The restaurant wasn’t far, so I walked along slowly, savoring the moment.
Jaffa is a magical place. It is a place of oceanside romance. Little did I know the spell that Israel would be cast this night, and how it would change the life of those around me as well as my own.
Jaffa is mentioned in the Old Testament as “Joppa,” an ancient port city believed to be among the oldest cities in the world. Most believe it was built by the son of Noah after the great flood. The city is named for Japheth, Noah’s son. I found myself wishing my business partner and best friend (Mannie) was with me. He’d been to Israel before, going to school here, as well as visiting some relatives. He knows this ancient city well, and had described it to me with a unique excitement. I know he’d love this place.
The restaurant, decorated with all the expected artifacts of a seaport, was bustling with noisy Israeli’s as they ate, talked, laughed, and drank the sweet wines of Galil (Galilee). All of the speakers from the Future Media Concepts group were meeting here for dinner to discuss the agenda for the following days. I took my place next to Billy Goldenberg, editor of the Academy Award-winning film, “Sea Biscuit.” He’s also edited “Ali” and several other major hits. We soon found ourselves deep in a technical discussion of Final Cut, editing film, and match-syncing picture.
And then she walked into the room.
Looking back, it seemed the room went dead silent when she came through the door. I don’t recall that I could hear glasses clinking, silverware clanking, not even the murmur of restaurant patrons. She smiled a smile so bright, it could cut its way through San Francisco fog as she walked towards our small group. Almost as if fate had prevailed, the only open seat was next to mine. After introductions, her partner presented the agenda for the coming week.
As a production coordinator and one of our hosts (read; baby sitters) Dikla asked me questions about the mountains of Utah, about Native American culture, and what it was like living where I lived.
“Do you follow the ways of your culture? Do you live in tipi’s there?”
I had to repress a chuckle, “No, we don’t live in tipi’s, I have a house, just like most of the houses here.”
“What kinds of foods do you eat?” she asked.
“The same things you eat, we have McDonalds, grocery stores, and junk food.”
Too soon, the evening ended as we climbed into taxi cabs for the long ride back to downtown Tel Aviv.
The next day was our first at the film complex. It seemed entirely strange to have students walk in carrying AR-15 rifles, and even more odd that the theater seats were designed to accommodate the weapons. Dikla was there to shepherd students from one class to another, and assure that all the little pieces of a conference came together like a jigsaw puzzle. Her Hebrew-English translation skills were flawless, and she helped me communicate more clearly with one of the students.
As the day came to a close, we set off to a Moroccan restaurant that Dikla had reserved for the group. We sat on the floor, surrounded by pillows. We drank several glasses of wine in the candlelight, and I realized how incredible, how wonderful, even how perfect this woman was. Reaching for my cell phone, I asked her to smile as I snapped a photo. Fortunately Tel Aviv is on the Verizon network, so I was able to send the photograph off to friends. In particular, I was excited for Mannie to see her photo. It didn’t take long for my phone to ring, as he wanted the full scoop on the woman seated across the table.**
Our next stop was a popular dancing spot, and she took the floor, dancing with various speakers from the conference. She was absolutely captivating. Coming off the dance floor, light beads of sweat lined her brow. “I love to dance,” she said, it’s fun and it’s a great workout.” And in that instant, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’d found the perfect life partner. I left Tel Aviv the next day, with Dikla and Mannie on my mind.
I’d had a couple of conversations with my business partner. He was soon headed to Israel with a religious group, and he agreed to meet her over lunch. “I’m gonna be busy, but I’ll have lunch with her,” he’d said.
Mannie’s not always the most optimistic guy, especially when it comes to romance. But meet her he did, and when he emailed me from Tel Aviv later that week, he let me know that he’d be having dinner with her the following night.
It wasn’t long before Mannie returned to Israel to spend time with the woman that was destined to be his future wife.
**Mannie and Dikla wed in Israel on December 23, 2009, in the same city where this story began, nearly two years to the day I introduced Dikla to Mannie via a cell phone photo/text message that second night in Tel Aviv. I couldn’t possibly be happier for them. Congratulations to them, and may their lives together be filled with happy days.