Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color


Accompanied by a bad headache, this morning’s vertigo was worse than usual, and it didn’t abate by the time I sat down to breakfast. I had to move my head carefully as I ate to minimize the effect. After I finished, I sat for a while longer, hoping that my brain would settle and I’d be able to make my way back upstairs. A bit unsteady on my feet I returned to bed.
I knew better than to lay my head down, it would only make the vertigo worse. I reclined, leaning on my pillows, keeping my head still, waiting for my brain to quit sloshing around. As it settled in my skull, my thoughts roamed all over the place.
My first thoughts were about Mikki, an Israeli friend with whom I’d exchanged texts recently. I wondered about him, about his life. What happened to him after high school? What was his army experience? Had he been an officer?
My thoughts gradually transitioned towards one of my boyfriends, Amir, whom I later married. I remembered sitting next to him on a curb in Tiv’on, waiting for his ride back to the army base where he was attending officers’ course. It was springtime, the heat of summer still to come. We sat in the mottled shade of a tree, my hand on his thigh, idly stroking it through a rip in his army fatigues, marveling at the softness of the worn fabric.
Without warning, my memory flashed to another time, a few weeks, or was it months later? It was a hot and dusty summer’s day. I sat next to Amir on the front stoop of a police station, my hand on his thigh, stroking it. Once again, he was on furlough. Had he finished the course by then? I know I was still in high school at the time, seventeen years old.
The door to the stone building at our backs was ajar, letting out what seemed like freezing air. Did I shiver while I sat there in the shade next to Amir?
We were waiting for our friend Naomi to join us. Her questioning seemed to go on forever.
My hand rubbed Amir’s thigh back and forth, back and forth. This time he wasn’t wearing fatigues. This time the fabric wasn’t soft. This time, I wasn’t stroking him idly. This time I had to force myself to keep my hand there, despite the revulsion I felt. Hoping that my touch helped him, I kept stroking him. Did it help me?
My hand went back and forth on his blood encrusted jeans, Menachem’s blood. Menachem who had fallen to his death while the four of us were on a hike, Menachem, Naomi, Amir, and I.
I physically jolted at the memory of encountering a speck of something as I rubbed my hand Amir’s thigh. Without thinking, I scraped it off his jeans—it didn’t come easily. As soon as it came away, I realized what it might be.
Shaken, I thrust the memory away from my consciousness .
And noticed that my vertigo was practically gone.