I found it in my bag,
rolled up with a pink ribbon tied around it
as if it were a gift.
There, in my hotel room
while I was still in Israel:
It was written in Estonian,
(I know because I had it translated)
With little penned hearts
in black ink
on either side of the writing.
There, in the contents of my bag.
I could only think of 4 explanations.
It had fallen out of the Western Wall
which I had visited the day before.
That place where all notes fit and are
stuck between its bricks.
Transiting from paper into prayer.
I thought maybe
one had fallen
innocently into my bag.
As if God had diverted his address to mine, saying
‘You handle this one’.
Or as if my bag was the Mount of Olives
which is the final resting place
of all the prayers in that Wall
because they clean them all out
once a year.
Otherwise, there would be a paper wall
in between the brick one.
But it only appeared the day after I visited the Wall
so it coudn’t be
disguised as a love-note.
Even though, when you think about it,
All love-notes are really prayers.
It read: ‘ Ma soovir eneses
samas, hoides alles
elama endale! ‘
Which translates as: ‘I wish once again
a sense of duty itself
while still keeping the money
to settle your…! ‘
There was one word missing that didn’t translate to English,
the word ‘kaasteune’.
I looked up words in Estonian,
trying to match the root of the word and finish the sentence, ‘…settle your…’.
I tried ‘debt’ which is ‘volg’ in Estonian.
then ‘loan’ which translates as ‘laen’.
I tried ‘stomach’ which translates as ‘koht’.
Then I got creative, and tried
‘karma’ which translates as ‘karma’
then ‘love’ which is ‘armastus’
I couldn’t find anything that translates as ‘kaasteune’.
The word just doesn’t appear in the Estonian language.
The hotel’s cleaning lady was Russian
and would have had access to my room.
Maybe she had accidently dropped it
while cleaning my room.
Maybe it was a note from her to her friend.
Or a note for her from her friend.
Maybe she had been a thief once, and wanted to make-up for it
by leaving behind little presents for people.
Maybe she wanted to play a joke on me.
Maybe she was going to put it in the Western Wall.
It’s just that I always took my bag with me whenever she cleaned the room.
It was from you, the French-Israeli I had gone on a date with the night before.
The first time I saw you was also the last.
You in your soft pink hoodie,
eating Israeli salad together
at a Jerusalem café.
Singing along to ‘Part-time Lover’.
I mentioned, after 2 beers that
I wanted to create a new language.
Saying that I had one word already,
It no longer means the world’s greatest ice-skater.
Now it means ‘dazzling’.
I told you I wanted to kiss you and we went back to your apartment.
You took a shower while I waited on your couch.
You showed me your bedroom
and your hand-gun
that was on a table next to your bed.
I picked it up
and held it on my palm.
I flicked it in the air with my palm.
‘Just don’t touch that’, you said, pointing to the trigger.
Then we kissed.
You walked me back to my hotel
and I told you I was only staying for 3 more days.
That was the reason why I never saw you again,
after that night.
I tried to find your apartment again the next day.
I tried to trace my steps from the café to your apartment.
But you had left me with some new words for my new language.
You had written down the deepest thought in your heart
and given it to me to translate into whatever I wanted.
For me to find the next day in my bag.
Even though, you never said you spoke Estonian.
Even though, I never left you alone with my bag.
The love-note just appeared out of thin air.
You know how sometimes you lose something.
It just disappears.
Like you did that night.
Like you had never existed.
Maybe the note was the opposite of that.
Maybe it had appeared out of nowhere because every so often things materialize out of the same thin air that they disappear in. Like a self-regulating existential rule, and on that occasion it was my turn to find something instead of lose something. A kind of settlement.
As if I had been given a receipt to prove that something had really happened. That it wasn’t my imagination.
And, of course, if it was going to happen anywhere, it would happen in Jerusalem, the place of mysteries, and miracles, and hidden meanings. I like that explanation, although it can easily be discounted. Regardless,
Jeremie, wherever you are, I wish you ‘kaasteune’. Forever and ever. Amen.