This morning, I went on my weekly long run. Usually, I go into the Jerusalem forrest, and do a loop, but I’d noticed recently that during each of these runs, I’d be haunted by a little fear voice: You may be feeling good now, the voice would say, but you’ve still got the hill going up from Ein Karem until you can relax.
The hill going up from Ein Karem – a beautiful little artisan village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which itself haunts me each time I run through it, as I think about the beautiful little Palestinian community of Ein Karem, who build the beautiful houses there and lived in them until 1948 – is about a mile long, and over 450 feet of elevation gain. So this morning, I decided to face my fear of the Ein Karem hill, and run it, up and down, three times.
I did it. I felt great. With the knowledge that I was going to do three ascents, starting a single ascent of the hill no longer felt so daunting. As I finished, I emerged from the Jerusalem forrest with my faithful running companion, Silly Department (pictured above), and met up with the path Jerusalem light rail, near the Yafe Nof stop. That’s when I saw it.
A young man, wearing a tight green T-Shirt, was walking in the direction of Har Herzl, and yelling “You daughter of a bitch!” in what may or may not have been Arabic-accented Hebrew. I couldn’t tell.
Walking in the opposite direction was an black haired Train Clerk. She yelled back over her shoulder “Fuck your mother!” and walked toward a small cluster of other Train Clerks all wearing their white uniforms. They may or may not have been armed. I couldn’t tell.
And: I kept running.
Because maybe this wasn’t a “National Incident.”
Because what was I going to do anyway if it was?
Because I was in the middle of my run.
Because I was with a dog, which may have made everyone more tense, rather than less.
Because I was scared.
That’s the end of the story. It happened a few minutes ago. I feel a little bit ashamed. Maybe my presence – bilingual, gentle – could have been deescalating. Maybe not. Maybe the incident was over. Maybe not. But I don’t know, because I just kept running. There’s some metaphorical lesson in here about facing fears in Jerusalem et cetera, but I can’t quite figure out what it is yet.