Maestro, in my previous email I sent you a list of songs entitled “The Electrochemical Girl”. Did you listen to it? I want to tell you the story behind it. It’s about a young woman. A very special one. But before we start, it’s important to understand that there have always been many young women in my life.
Yeah, when I was 40, I dated a college student who was 20. But that experience wasn’t very significant for me as far as relationships go. More significant than my romantic relationship with that student is my life as a father to two daughters, and as a kind of a non-biological parental figure to Chloe, best friend to my daughter Alia. I’m no stranger to girls and young women. In my life, true love for women has been expressed solely and exclusively without sex or romance. Yes, the sex and romance side of my love for women has always been consumed by misery. But now, even the safer, purer, familial form of love is apparently a crime. This tale will be a terrible story about an amazing girl. You’ve heard many tales from me about my tragedies with women. This is one will be the king of them all.
I’ve told you briefly about my leaving the Army, during the years after my second tour of duty in Iraq when I got PTSD while divorcing my wife while at the same time serving in a unit staffed entirely by female officers. They treated me like a monstrous male because I couldn’t work or function as an adult, and if my wife wanted to abandon me, it just had to have been because I was fundamentally evil. The men of the world protect women from men, and the women of the world protect women from men. The most fundamental design of the world is the protection of women from men. The most precious resources of primitive humanity were soil, food, and women. The result of this treatment I received from women has created a trauma for me as strong as my hatred of war. I can’t stand accusations of sexual impropriety or treatment as a maleficent male animal. After the Army I became an Anglican monk for eight years, complete with a vow of celibacy. Women were simply too dangerous to have sex with, or even to want to have sex with, and the world was simply too cruel to participate in.
I have also told you a little about my spiritual life, that I am a believe the bible is true and that Jesus is the Messiah, that I studied the Hebrew language, and that I lived in Israel for almost a year from 2018 to 2019. I remember I gave you a written exercise for one of our classes that was about the most terrible trip the student ever took. In it I mentioned that my year in Israel was a very long and terrible journey. Of course, the cause was a woman. But the woman herself wasn’t the problem. In reality, it was the culture of religion and moralism that surrounded her. It wasn’t a good year in general. I went there alone. I was a foreigner trying to learn the language, and that’s why I was isolated. After I had been there several months, my daughter came to Israel to visit me. We fought over her boyfriend, and she suddenly decided to join him in Germany, abandoning me to my self even though I had paid for us to take a trip to Greece together. What few other friends I had made over the course of my months there also spontaneously all decided to leave the country during that summer of 2019. Liat took off to England, and Anthony took off to France. So I decided to return to the United States, to take a vacation with my parents and other relatives.
That was my situation on the day I left Israel: frustrated and alone. Something very important happened that day that I headed to the airport, but I can’t tell you about it without talking to you about a very special person first. And I can’t do that without telling you a little bit about my year in Israel.
Just after I arrived in the country, I joined a synagogue of Messianic Jews. Messianic Jews are Jews who believe that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel. They are basically Jewish Christians or Christian Jews. Don’t worry, it’s confusing in Spanish, English, Hebrew – in fact it is confusing in all languages.
In this synagogue there were also gentile Christians. Since I didn’t speak much Hebrew, the synagogue board gave me the phone number of one of them, a certain Harold van Ouwerkerk. He was a wealthy businessman from the Netherlands who did not speak Hebrew, but knew many people from the synagogue and indeed in Israel. Harold and his family were not Jews, but all his life Harold had a love for the culture of Israel and for the Jews. There are many Christians who have that love. He probably wanted to be a Jew, but could not convert to Judaism because of his Christian faith. In any case, his children apparently struggled initially in Israel, I suppose because Harold brought his family to Israel as a result of a personal passion. So he put them in an American school in the country to ease a bit of the culture shock. As a result, the whole family spoke English fluently.
I attended some Bible studies with Harold. I should have known he had mental problems when I asked a woman in the group if she needed a ride to school. Harold threw a tantrum and ranted that she was a vulnerable person, insinuating that I would somehow harm or endanger her. I told him the accusations were unacceptable and my question was typical. He apologized, and I thought we had an understanding. At one point, Harold invited me to his house for a Jewish celebration. It was a big party with a lot of guests. That was the first time I saw his daughter, Noah van Ouwerkerk. She was 18, the same age as my daughter. She was tall, maybe 1.8 m, and very thin at that time, with long, golden hair and pale green eyes. An angel. Fantastically beautiful. But this situation was not unusual. She was 18. My daughter Alia was beautiful too, so was Chloe. Like flowers in their tenderest blossom of spring.
I didn’t say anything to her that night, and she didn’t say anything to me. She sat in front of me at the big table while I was talking to another woman from the synagogue. I didn’t really pay much attention to Noah. I was attentive to my interlocutor’s intentions to work with the poor in Africa. In that conversation with the woman, I explained that it is not always easy to travel and live in various places. I explained that I lived in many cities in the United States during my military career, and in fact grew up in four cities in my youth. I also also studied abroad in Germany. That’s why I never felt like I had a home. I had family and friends in several cities and several countries, but they were never all together. I always missed someone. Later in the evening, I noticed that Noah was standing far off, away from the dining room, with his eyes fixed on me. I didn’t know why. I guess she was pretty impressed by my story. But in her eyes I saw an empathy that is not usually found in the hearts of man, and when it is found, it normally only lives in the hearts of young people. But in his case there was also something different. Yes, she had the honest and pure empathy of a child or an innocent ant loving pet, but I also saw in her eyes an incredible understanding. She was the only person among the guests who really understood what I said. Or so it seemed to me.
However, this introduction is not a story of love at first sight. It was an introduction without a word, and an impressive presentation, but my impression at the time was that the van Ouwerkerk family was interesting and unique, and Harold’s daughter was an interesting and unique girl like my daughter. I thought I might finally have friends. But this was just the beginning. After the party I connected with many people from the event on Facebook: Harold, his son David, his daughter Levia, and also Noah.
Maybe you know, maestro, that Facebook has an agreement with Spotify. It is possible to connect your Facebook account with your Spotify account. And for Spotify, not the phone app, but the desktop version, you can search for friends among your Facebook friends. Today I follow 142 of my Facebook friends on Spotify. When I use my laptop, I can see what my friends are listening to. There are also Spotify profiles, and people can post the lists of songs they have created, and I can see the lists of my friends there. I didn’t pay much attention to Noah for a while after the party, but sometimes I would see her lists and songs, and I found her to be a person with interesting musical tastes, very similar to mine and my daughter’s.
I didn’t really think much about her in general. Sometimes I would watch her songs when I listened to music, and sometimes Harold would talk about her. For example, when I mentioned that my daughter was finishing high school, Harold mentioned that his daughter was finishing high school as well, and we discussed a project of hers that she did in Hebrew, for which she needed help because she spoke Hebrew well, but not with complete fluency. I assumed that her level was like mine: she was not a novice, but not a native of the language either. That is an important point that I will discuss in a moment. Right now I just want to say that we decided that when my daughter came to Israel for summer vacation, Harold and I would introduce our daughters for friendship. I thought it would be a fun summer and that my daughter would have a friend, and I would have a home.
However, as Alia’s arrival drew near, I realized some rather strange things about this family, especially concerning Noah. Of course, as I was planning activities for my daughter, I contemplated how Noah would relate to our plans, and also, of course, I was curious to know if the girls would become friends. Finally, if I allowed my daughter, my diamond, to spend time with a new friend, it would surely be reasonable to want to know a little about this new person. So, not much, at most three or four times in two or three months, I asked Harold about Noah. In each case, his answers were strange. I felt like he thought my questions were inappropriate. In fact, the last time I asked Harold about what Noah wanted to do after high school, and whether she was required to serve in the army, he replied that she was deciding whether she wanted to serve in the Israeli Defense Force, but that I should better go after Levia, Noah’s older sister. I didn’t answer. I didn’t know how to answer. Surely Harold understood that I was an Anglican monk under a vow of chastity. He surely understood that it was reasonable and casual to ask a bit about a potential friend for my daughter. I couldn’t believe what he said. That made me very curious about the mentality of Harold and his family.
Finally the day came when my daughter came to Israel. As I mentioned to you above, maestro, almost immediately after landing we had a number of arguments about her boyfriend, yet we managed to maintain a generally pleasant holiday. I told Harold that my daughter had arrived, and I introduced her to Harold’s family. Alia added Noah as a friend on Facebook and sent her a message, but Noah did not respond. We’d decided to introduce the two of them to each other at a gathering at Harold’s house, but on the day of the meeting, Noah sent Alia a message saying she could not attend. Despite this, we visited Harold, his son David, and his daughter Levia. The meeting was pleasant. We talked about various things, such as spirituality. Levia had no interest in any of these subjects. But overall the night was pleasant and we agreed that we would arrange another performance for the girls the following month.
Unfortunately, Alia and I kept fighting over her boyfriend, and suddenly she decided to go to Germany, where he was living. Her boyfriend, disrespectful idiot that he was, paid a hundred euros to fly her to Germany, and apparently this was more important than the $2,000 I spent for her to take a vacation in Greece during her visit. As I mentioned before, I felt abandoned, and after the sudden disappearance of my daughter, I decided to go to the United States to take a vacation with my parents and see some cousins. I felt depressed. I bought a flight home. And while I was packing my bags, I looked for people with whom I could practice my Hebrew while I was in the United States.
I only had one friend, Liat, who left Israel right at this same time to go live with an ex-boyfriend in London, and another friend, Anthony, who left Israel to live with his father in France. Anthony did not speak Hebrew well anyway. Another friend of mine named David was never free. Always busy. He didn’t realy seem much interested in friendship in the first place. Finally, a friend of mine Boris always canceled his appointments with me. Israel was apparently not the country of friendship. But I remembered that Harold’s daughter had the same level of Hebrew as me. I thought for a moment and remembered that Harold was a little weird about his daughter. But he was a Christian. Surely he was able to reason. I thought we had an understanding that he wasn’t going to treat me like a sex predator. So I considered whether it would be a good idea to ask Noah for help with my Hebrew.
A voice in my head said, “go for it.” So I did. I sent her a message on Facebook Messenger: “Noah, I usually have no reason to talk to teenagers, but my situation is weird, so I ask you: do you want to help me with Hebrew?” In that second, literally in that second, not after a few minutes, but in that second, in very aggressive way, Harold sent me a message saying that my contact with his daughter was inappropriate and that I had to avoid all contact with her. Stupefied, I apologized and promised not to try to contact Noah in the future. They were absolutely crazy. I was sick of Israel and the van Ouwerkerks. I went to the airport by taxi and returned to my country on the other side of the world.