On January 11th, 1979, I slept in a small green tent beside the road at the entrance to Masada, Israel, with my friend Chrissy.
Chrissy and I didn’t have enough money to stay at the youth hostel. We could see it at the top of the hill, beside Masada, when we pitched our tent, in the middle of the night beside the road. We had hitchhiked from Kibbutz Reshafim.
“… had just started to eat my apple when an army lorry going to Jerusalem stops. Hell of a time trying to climb in the back. Really flew off those seats on a bumpy road. Got dropped off in the middle of nowhere with Masada in front of us. And it was dark. ” Journal entry, January 12th, 1979
We had a bag of dried onion soup the kitchen staff at Kibbutz Reshafim had given us. We cooked it over a single propane burner in a small pot. I had my 15$ monthly wage that I had earned from weeding sugar beets on the kibbutz, $100 dollars that Diane from Canada had lent me so I could travel south with Chrissy, and a plane ticket home to Canada from Greece.
The zipper on the coat someone had given me was broken and I had a string tied around my waist to keep it together. The wooden clogs I found in a cabin on the Kibbutz, when a volunteer from Sweden had moved on, were worn down in the back.
There was a gift shop at Masada.
Where are you from? The man in the store asked.
Chrissy said, “England.”
I said, “Canada. We had worked on Kibbutz Reshafim.”
“Where are you staying.”
“In a tent.”
“Is it green?”
We looked around the store. I found a postcard that summed up my experience in Israel. It was a picture of a market scene in Jerusalem, taken in the old city. I didn’t have a camera. I wanted the postcard.
“I walked over and asked the man how much the postcards were. I then walked back and got the card I wanted. Walked back and handed him the card while I dug for my money. He put my card in a bag and handed it back to me. He waved away my money which I hadn’t dug up yet. So nice.” Journal entry, January 12th 1979
The store owner was kind to me. A postcard is not expensive; but I asked the price before I considered buying it. He gave me the card.
That simple act of kindness has stayed with me for over 34 years. I found the postcard a few days ago in a box of papers.
The postcard brings back the memory of standing in the store digging through my wallet for two lira to pay for the card. And I am there again feeling the kindness from a stranger. The memory is vivid. I can see my open coat tied in front of me. The sound of the wooden shoes from Sweden echo on the wooden floor as I walk across the floor holding the postcard. A small treasure. Worth the price.
The man puts the postcard in a small brown envelope. And hands it back to me. He doesn’t want me to pay.
I feel loved. Someone noticed me. The store workers kindness touched me and stayed with me. The memory was in a file that was reopened when I found the postcard.
My memory is like a filing cabinet. Some files have been deleted or put in an inactive file. Other memories are just waiting for a photograph, a postcard, or a friend to contact me, so they can be reopened and treasured again.
What do you remember?
Has someone touched your life with kindness?
I thought the tent was red. When I read my journal I realized it had been green.