A Tomato Follow Up

I drove Elie back to his base this morning after having him home for 7 days. It’s a bit disconcerting for me. I was used to him going back to base on Sundays, then Mondays, and today was Wednesday. All day long, I’ve been confused about what day it is, thinking the week is only beginning when in fact it is close to over.

We had some nice discussions on the drive, relaxed and easy. I told him about the last post I’d made on the blog; about the tomatoes that he and his brother had wrestled with and finally dumped in their grandmother’s salad bowl.

“They went in your bowl,” Elie told me.

“What? No way,” I said, trying to remember seeing Elie or Davidi lean across. Is it possible? We were all laughing, could it have gone in my bowl?

Elie just sat there with a huge grin on his face. The more I denied it happening, the wider he grinned.

“I don’t like tomatoes,” I told him and though I’d thought it was impossible, he smiled even more.

He’s back on base for the next two weeks, the Sabbath is approaching and he won’t be here. We’ve reached the mid-way point in his service. Half-way…at least for now.

“Do you think there’ll be a war while you are in the army?” I asked him as we drove the last few minutes.

“No,” he answered. “They’ll talk about it, but no.”

From your mouth to God’s ears, I thought. I pulled to the side of the gate before the base and pulled the lever from inside the car to pop the trunk. It’s a well-rehearsed game at this point. If I want a hug and a kiss goodbye, I have to get out of the car and meet him. He gets out to fix his gun, grab his backpack and would never lean back in to show that affection.

So I got out of the car and as he strapped the gun to his back, I opened the trunk. I know better than to try to lift his heavy backpack, so I waited. He came to the back of the car, hoisted the heavy pack onto his back and started to turn towards the gate.

“Hey,” I said.

He turned and I saw the knowing grin. That too is part of the game. He came over and gave me a huge hug and even a bit of a kiss on the cheek. “Take care of yourself. Be careful,” I told him as I always do. He smiled and walked towards the base.

As he entered, I saw him reach out and greet the soldier at the gate. A touch of the arms and a brief word. He’s not home, and yet he is.

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