|Carnival in La Paz, Mexico —|
When we landed in LA I was shocked by how I sounded like all the people around me. My accent is a perfect LA accent it seems. It didn’t matter who I overheard speaking, white, Midwest-looking Caucasians in surf trunks, islander Hawaiian-ish wannabees, Hispanic ancestor tattoo-ites , Asian-fusion skaters, or Rappy-black and big people with sport’s trunks, they all sounded like me. I walked down the Venice boardwalk, a place that I still know today via the smells, the soot, the sand, the vendors, and the cacophony of people, and I felt totally at home. We all spoke the same language. We were all part of the same tribe. At first I reveled in this awareness, but later I became fearful that my true identity would be revealed if I were to get into a longer conversation with anyone. They would know, eventually, that I had abandoned them all. I was always a searcher, as many of them believed themselves to be, but I had continued the search into other uncharted realms. Really, I felt like an explorer of old, something of the likes of Magellan, Columbus, or Shackleton, while walking the gauntlet of sunglasses kiosks, teeshirt stands, and anchored wayward musicians on roller-skates. I was home, but with a totally different skin, like another species. And it scared the crap out of me … just like in the movies.
After a brief Shabbat with other nephews at Chabbad, we headed south behind the Orange Curtain. The wedding was at a golf course, and the view was stunning as the sun set over the putting green. I was shocked again, not by how similar I was to the people around me, but by how different. I’ve been a practicing Jew for 30 years, the last 10 in the Jewish homeland of Israel, and I was not prepared for the cultural differences. I wanted to say mazal tov to everyone, but the act of holding my tongue in the last second and muttering congratulations was enough to set me aside. I was a foreigner. I had traveled half way around the world from my own homeland, only to attend the wedding of my only brother’s daughter and found that my home was no longer the place I grew up in. I was a stranger in a strange land, even though I spoke with the same accent, the same vocabulary, and the same exact memories. I was a foreigner, so I began to blend in. I began to speak to the people around me, sharing, laughing, and smiling. I danced with my other niece’s fiancé, like I was with the familiar yeshiva boys. I thought of my dear departed friend Moshe when we danced, which made me feel more at home. My nephew to be made me lead, which I guess is proper, since I was the elder. I spoke with my uncle and my aunt, the half-brother and half-sister of my father, “Z"L”, of memories and of blessings for good, positive communications to come. We all got really drunk, probably because of me and my flask. And that was that. My niece was now married, lock, stock, and two smoking barrels.
We flew to Baja California for our own honeymoon. My only brother and I hadn’t seen each other in only a few years, since his visit to the Holy Land. We dressed up for Carnival, swam with the whale sharks, boated with calving grey whales, and surfed the giant break of Todos Santos. Then, 10 days later, we departed and parted ways at LAX. It was a strange new blip on the map of Drew and Trent, brothers born 2 years and 2 days apart in October. He’s a very accomplished and respected principle of a landscape architecture firm, having followed almost exactly in his father’s footsteps; where, I have always been a wayward travelling beach philosopher and poet. It mattered not to the world I had been posthumously exhumed from, it mattered not to the shadow I attempted to cast onto the casket of my ancestors … it was all designed from worlds removed from our collective ability to understand, and to grasp unto sweaty, greedy palms. I was not my father, even though I am told that I am the spitting image of my honored ancestor. I learned, speaking with my oh-so-loved and missed uncle and aunt that … my father’s ancestor, his grandfather, was a catholic priest from Austria. He left the fold and left for ‘his’ promised land, California, the land of Hollywood and gold. His son, Mr. Anderson, married my grandmother when she was 16. When she grew she sewed in Hollywood for the stars, like Lucile Ball, and others. The movies … yes, this is how I know where I came from. I love them all. The cinema is paradise for me. I am a Californian, it seems, deep in the core of my genetic being. And I know this because I love the movies.
We landed in Israel, after our journey through time and space, to be hit the hardest I’ve ever been hit by jetlag, that stealthy slick bitch. She twisted us into a knot that is only now being untwined. It ‘is’ like Israel, however, to ramp up the input feed like that. So maybe jetlag was only the messenger, after all. I arrived to set up a mini-retrospective of the last 4 years of work I’ve been doing. I knew something was brewing when I was on the other side of the world, via email, but had no idea how fast it would occur when I arrived. The next day the curator arrived at my studio and we huffed it to the gallery the following day to hang the entire exhibition; well, except for the unframed works, which were added in the next few days as they were completed. It was totally Israel style: now and big to me, impactful, and totally stressful … well, maybe that’s just jetlag talking, I still can’t say. There is, however, a real energetic shift when arriving in Israel from elsewhere, at least there was for me, having come from such a close and personal cultural cacophonous amalgam. I felt it hard, and bad, and good; like my own personal surround sound system blaring truth of self in booms and breaks and breaths directly to my brainstem. I was home.
Please come and visit my exhibition at the Zikhron Library Gallery, or visit me online at www.doronoll.com. Looking forward, and have a great day!
For more Baha pics, click here