A friend of mine visited Tel Aviv a couple of years ago and remarked how initially bothered he was by the dirty, rundown buildings he saw, with their dangling air conditioners and dripping hoses. After a few days he began to see the warmth of the spaces inside the windows, the people and the lives coming in and out of the dirty shells. He told me he fell in love with the city.
I know how he feels. Tel Aviv is a humble city, especially for a self-professed aesthete like myself, but I couldn't love her more. Somehow, the disheveled skin of this city is just enough for life to thrive here, and woo the spirit. Plants grow at a rate I have not encountered before, a full season in midwest America cannot yield the lush flowers and plants that supplant themselves in every nook and corner of this urban, decrepit shell. Life is lush and hearts are full. The plants are like the people, bursting, engaging, making the most of the moment.
The juxtaposition of base and beauty brings an ironic smile, destroying any barriers to love. Her brutal honesty is reassuring. There is safety in this city. I do not fear the stranger. I do not fear skin color. I do not fear to walk alone. In the absence of fear, there is love. We are all street flowers in this city.
What is a beautiful life in a beautiful city? The drips from the air conditioners are lovingly brought to planters below. This city is not thirsty, it is satiated by every drop. It is what it is. There is no copy of something else. There is just you and me.