At Home (the Second Chapter)

You already know was member of the Christian church for a long time. I was specifically Anglican. But you also know I hate the culture of religion. Regardless of my opinions about religious culture, however, I believe in God, and this faith is important to me. I also believe in personal spiritual beings such as angels, demons, elves, genies or fairies. The word “demon” is actually Greek. In primitive places, in very ancient times, before there were complicated religions with gods and heroes, most spirituality was animism, veneration of ancestors, and veneration of nature spirits. For example, before the Germanic gods known as the Æsir and the Vanir came onto the scene, there were elves, a type of nature spirit. Similarly, before the gods of the Celts, the Tuatha dé Danann, people spoke of fairies. And before the gods of Olympus in Greece, there were demons. These were the invisible spirits of nature. According to my understanding, there are spirits who serve God (like angels) and others who do not. They needed a word for those spirits who oppose God, so they called them “demons.”

I explain all this to clarify that I believe in demons, angels, the devil, etc. However, I do not really believe that every action or event is the result of a personal spirit. We don’t really understand the specifics of how they affect life. However, I do tend to use the Pope’s language in ascribing personal demonic activity to quite a number of things. We laugh at the Pope in the news because he always says phrases like, “beware of the devil!” and, “the devil hates the family!”. I admit that such manners of speaking are not foreign to me. I usually speak of the “devil” or “demons” when I want to express that evil can be a tendency with a plan, or an intelligent force, not just a collection of unrelated bad things or events. Now I have given you this long explanation about spirits and demons and how I use these terms in language because I want to use one of those phrases in my next sentence.

The devil really didn’t want me to live in Israel. Immediately upon arriving in the United States, I felt better. I had my family, even some friends, and I could finally enjoy the divine taste of bacon. I always tell you that Mexico is cheaper than the United States, but the United States is cheaper than Israel. I also tell you that the government of Mexico is supportive of foreigners. The government of Israel is not. At the outset of my return the USA, my life there was a paradise. I visited my relatives in Texas and my father in Florida. I saw New Orleans and all the deserts, mountains, and forests of New Mexico, and the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as various parts of the southeastern United States. Also, I spent time with a friend from my first tour of service in the Army, in the infantry, during the ‘ 90s. His name is George. He was an important character in my life, and I’ll tell you more about him down the road.

It seemed to me that the devil was offering me crap in one of his hands: Israel. Expensive, unfriendly, strange, moralistic. At the same time, the evil one gave me candy with his other hand: America. Convenience, friends, family. I had to argue with my mother if I wanted to go back to Israel at all. Originally I had only planned to spend the holidays in the United States, and in fact I already had my ticket to return and extend my visa for one more year in Israel. However, I had no idea what kind of a future I would have in that country. And over time I began to have difficulties that complicated the decision.

To begin with, any decision to leave Israel permanently would be marred by the fact that I had never finished anything meaningful in my life. For example, I didn’t finish high school. I have a GED. I did not complete my degree in Jewish studies in Germany because I could not get a visa for my wife, and I had to leave the country. I was studying Arabic in the Army, but I didn’t use it much in my career, and I forgot pretty much all of it. I changed my language from Arabic to Russian because my wife was Russian and I wanted to understand her, but she left me when I was still in Russian school. I didn’t complete the course. For that matter, I didn’t complete complete my marriage. Finally, I couldn’t complete my career in military intelligence because of PTSD.

With that kind of past behind me, Israel was an opportunity to begin a new phase of life that I could actually take to fruition. After my daughter Alia came of age, I was finally released from the obligations of my divorce. She wanted to study in Europe, and I also wanted to embark upon a new life. In Israel there were many Jews with whom to study Hebrew, plus many Arabs if I wanted to advance in my Arabic. Also a lot of Russians in the event that I wanted to relearn Russian. I went to Israel to finish things in my life that I couldn’t finish before. However, I left without completing anything. It was really important for me to complete something.

Not only did I not complete any of these issues from my past while I was in Israel, but I never actually found a point to being there in the first place, and to boot, I had never found any purpose for life anywhere else outside of Israel either. If I could not complete some kind of personal goal in Israel, what else would I do in my life? I’m a retiree, divorced with adult daughters. I’ve seen a lot of places, tasted a lot of food. I’m free. Most people spend their lives trying to survive, earn more money, have a family, and if they are lucky, travel to other places. They strive for this because they don’t have an opportunity to do them in real life. But I was free from all of life’s chains. I could do anything. I considered my greatest gifts to be my spiritual insights and my knowledge of ancient languages and cultures. Just sitting on a Florida beach watching the sunset every day wouldn’t be enough for me.

As I told you, maestro, I served four years in the infantry and then left the Army to study in Germany, but I had to give up my studies for my family. In order to support my wife and daughters. I returned to the Army for another ten years as an officer. Then I lost my family and my career, which resulted in me being free from most responsibilities and financially liberated at the age of 47. I have to say that my time in Germany in my youth when I was studying Hebrew and Judaism was the happiest of my life. My teachers treated me like a genius. I was a prodigy to them. But then I got married and rejoined the Army, and ever since my whole life has been just waiting restart doing something that I wanted to, or maybe even find some sort of special destiny to fulfill. At the beginning of that second leg of my Army career, after studying in Germany, I only wanted to serve three years as an officer while my wife attended nursing school, and then I wanted to leave the Army to attend a Christian seminary and live as a student while my wife worked as a nurse. Unfortunately my father convinced my wife to threaten me with divorce if I left the Army. So I lost I lost seven more years there. I thought I’d retire as a lieutenant colonel and start my life after I retired. I didn’t get complete my military career, but because of PTSD I got a better pension than a colonel, and it was time to start the life I wanted.

You see, maestro, it looks to me like I was designed to go to Israel. My time studying Judaism was a very happy time, and I spent a lot of time in the Army that I didn’t really enjoy. Although I studied Hebrew and Judaism, Russian, and Arabic, I did not complete much, so I inherited a burning urge to go to Israel to finally do something with all of those dreams. Now that you know I have wound up here in Mexico, I hope you don’t find this narrative depressing. Of course I have had a lot of happiness in my life, even with my wife, and especially with my daughters. My career in military intelligence was fascinating. And I could write a mountain books about my adventures in Europe with the infantry. But I have to admit, I spent a lot of my life going down the wrong roads. It’s not a sad story. It’s actually quite common. In fact, it is the history of most of humanity. But unlike most, I had the opportunity to escape my chains. So I went to Israel in 2018. And because of all of these urges and designs, I decided to go back to Israel after a vacation in the USA, despite my miserable first year there, and despite the triggering argument with the van Ouwerkerks.

So, as I mentioned above, the first part of my vacation in the United States was wonderful. Then again, after driving across the country in the summer, I decided in September 2019 to make a trip to New Mexico with my friend George and our friend Kendall, another soldier from our unit in the infantry. That trip was also great, although it was towards the end of my vacation. Because of this, I began to contemplate my return to Israel. I thought a lot about the van Ouwerkerks. And I specifically started listening to Noah’s songs on Spotify.

And this is a very, very important point: the songs of Noah van Ouwerkerk. Now you probably think this story is about an old man’s love for a teenage girl. You wouldn’t be wrong. But this isn’t just a romantic tale. It will also be the story of an absolute madman, and possibly also about the discovery of a very profound form of wisdom. To this day, my problem is that I have difficulty distinguishing between madness and enlightenment. In order to explain to you what I mean by that statement, maestro, I will have to tell you about the human mind, my mind, and some facts of psychology.

Let’s start with some thoughts about what intelligence is to begin with. Intelligence is the organization of information. We have experiences and memories, and we order these thoughts into previously acquired patterns in our minds. We give meaning to these patterns, and from this we derive meaning. Sometimes the mind connects things that most people wouldn’t. In psychology, it’s called “apophenia” when a person connects things that don’t have a real relationship. It’s a sign of schizophrenia. For example, a paranoid person thinks everyone he knows is a secret police officer. He’s created a pattern that’s not real. The thing is, though, anyone can manifest this characteristic on occasion, and most of us actually do at various points. Take for example a man who thinks everyone at his office hates him. In his situation, it is quite possible that everyone at his job really hates him. In all likelihood there are only a few people who feel that way, though. Most likely, no one hates him, and he’s just reading into things. We all know people who think everyone hates them. Because we all have an element of delusion in our attitudes, and some of us have it fairly extensively while still being able to function in society, it can at times be difficult to distinguish between functional analysis and personal fantasy.

In addition, there is the phenomenon of the mad prophet. A man has an experience of madness. Maybe he took a psychedelic drug. Maybe he was very sick; maybe he practiced meditation (meditation is like a drug of its own), maybe he experienced a lot of stress (stress is also like a drug), or sometimes he just went through strange experiences in his life. In any case, he has these experiences and relates thoughts that he would not normally relate to create different patterns. However, other people listen to their experiences, their mental schemes and conclusions, and believe that man has found wisdom. Some people describe their experiences as hallucinations, others describe them as visions. Some think he went crazy, others think he became enlightened. The difference is only by connotation: hallucinations are meaningless; visions are are the highest form of revelation of meaning.

Returning to myself, I’ll say that in my life I’ve always had the an ability to analyze patterns. I have already mentioned that my teachers in Germany regarded me as a prodigy. This is because I could find patterns in the Bible and philosophical writings. Later, in the Army, I was a good analyst because I could find patterns in the behaviors of the enemy. But now I have PTSD and a complicated psychology. In several ways my ability to analyze what is going on has been derailed somewhat, and I have less confidence if my gift is still intact.

Later write you about some experiences with drugs and hallucinations, some of them possibly visions. There are a number of cases where I can’t say that I know the difference. As I have said, it can be difficult to separate madness from enlightenment. Besides, I do not know exactly when this problem started. Maybe the trigger was drugs, or maybe Noah. You probably think my experience with Noah van Ouwerkerk is absolute madness, but I’m not sure, and I need to know.

Now that I’ve expounded these psychological concepts, in general and with reference to myself, I can refer to the songs. Carly Simon has a song “You’re so Vain.” her chorus is: “I bet you think this song is about you.” Apparently she wrote for an ex-boyfriend who thought all her songs were about him. This could be an example of apophenia, if we understand it as a disease. Surely not all of her songs are about him, but her ex-boyfriend wanted it to be that way, or he was afraid they were about him, or he was so arrogant that he couldn’t understand her writing a song about another subject or someone else. Or, possibly, he has schizophrenia, and is not able to properly connect the themes of her songs. Each of them is going to have a unique theme because they are attempts to communicate the heart of the singer. Thus we identify with the singer, often falling into a certain hypnotism afforded by the rhythm of the music. When it comes to songs, we identify with the lyrics. We also send songs to others to communicate to them: “this is how I feel.” Teenagers do this a lot. We also listen to each other’s favorite songs to learn how they feel. Many people, especially teens, often create song lists that describe their experiences.

Noah van Ouwerkerk had created such playlists on Spotify and, I have to admit, it seemed to me that the lyrics of the songs on her playlists were related to her personality and her thoughts. Apophenia? Possibly, but at that time it was normal to look for these kinds of indicators of who a person might be when I felt some interest in a stranger. However, if her songs described her character, she was definitely not her father’s daughter. Their themes were sexual, romantic, passionate, profound. But as I told you, master, before I left Israel, I would sometimes check her playlists, and I sensed that she was an interesting person. Though later when listening to her songs in the USA, I noticed other things. She listened to songs like “Daddy Issues,” “911 / Mr. Lonely,” “This is America,” “Come out and play,” “Let’s Fall in Love for the Night,” “Butterflies,” and others that seemed very strange to me. They seemed to me to describe my character and my condition of life. I started to feel a stronger connection than before with this teenager. I even created a Spotify playlist titled “The Blood of the Ewe Lamb,” where I made a story of songs about a woman who was sad and angry because an important man had left her. I wanted to describe Noah in my imagination after after this mystery man had left her. You may find this behavior odd, but I am a bohemian, philosopher and literary guy. It was just a list of songs, and a fictional story that I put together in an emotional time. In any event, thus began a sort of idealized relationship with someone I had never spoken a word to. And it was in this state that I did something crazy.

Like I told you, I have PTSD, and sometimes I don’t sleep well. I often have nightmares, and sometimes I don’t sleep at all. After the trip with my friends to New Mexico, I was at George’s house, thinking about Israel, Noah and my daughter. I couldn’t sleep. One night I had a very intense dream that I don’t remember now. I woke up very early from the dream, and all I could think about was Noah. Dumbfounded, I texted her on Facebook Messenger. I asked her for a chance to talk to her. At that second, not after a few minutes, but at that very second, her father Harold sent me a WhatsApp message saying that he had ordered me not to talk to his daughter, that I was a pervert, that he would cause me difficulties with the authorities. I don’t remember exactly how I answered, but it wasn’t nice. I wasn’t a pervert. Maybe I was crazy, but I wasn’t a pervert. I wasn’t even slightly ashamed of anything. Noah was young, but she was an adult, and could at least respond to Facebook Messenger messages on her own without help from her dad. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I felt pain in my soul and wanted to talk to her about the reason for my message. I was annoyed by Harold’s insane response. Harold, in true Christian moralistic fashion, blocked me on WhatsApp like he was a little girl. Noah did too, although at least she actually was a young girl.

Then things got really weird on my part, I fell in love with Noah van Ouwerkerk. After I write you a lot more about me and this story, you’ll know why. Right now I’ll only say that I was rebelling against a very powerful psychological characteristic that had been implanted within my by religious moralism and experiences with my divorce and the Army. But more on that later. Here I will just say that the fire of passion had been list. I was enchanted in every possible way: sexually, emotionally, intellectually. I loved her more than my wife at the height of our love. On a level equal to my love for my daughters, but more, because there were no limits. My daughter was my daughter, but she could never be my lover. But Noah, the relationship had no definition, basically because it was all based on the Spotify songs of someone I had never talked to. Those months were a time of stress and a lot of confusion. My trauma was triggered by accusations that I was a dangerous male animal, and nothing could turn it off. My psychological reaction was an internal war against these accusations. We were adults. She was an absolutely beautiful woman, physically, spiritually and intellectually. She was young, like my daughter Alia and like Chloe. Full of potential, and I imagined she needed the wisdom of an old philosopher like me.

The weirdest part was that I thought she loved me too. Apophenia? You probably think so, maestro. It would be very difficult for me to prove anything. But I kept listening to her songs during September 2019. I also created another list of songs on Spotify that I titled: “The Electrochemical Girl.” It was the account of my thoughts and feelings towards her; at the same time, she added songs to her list. I felt like her songs were about me. And I added songs about her to my list. Over time, our lists formed a dialogue between us. And it was a dialogue of love.

During that September I became very confident that I had an intimate connection with a person of the opposite gender, basically of an opposite age, who lived on the opposite side of the world, with whom I had never spoken a damned word. If it was apophenia, it was like the man who thinks everyone in his life work for the secret police. This would be a very strong and complete apophenia. And like I told you, maestro, I can’t prove anything. The details were too complicated. But this conversation between our songs was very articulate, a complete conversation. I can’t prove anything, but at that time it was important to confirm that the conversation was real, and in any case I was nervous and stressed about my return to Israel with a mad father in my synagogue. Don’t forget, my plan was to return to Israel, to the same apartment, to the same city and synagogue. I had to try to do something, at least to foster harmony with the van Ouwerkerks, and more importantly, discover the nature of my connection with this girl. I already told you that I was very confident that there was something meaningful there, and if that was the case, I wanted to know how to connect with that teenager. A romance would be fundamentally bizarre. But I just couldn’t forget her. Besides, despite my confidence, it was a song-based relationship. I needed confirmation that it wasn’t a fantasy (you’re probably very proud of me for wanting to know!). Finally, the reaction of the van Ouwerkerks was very rare. Why did her dad respond to his adult daughter’s conversations so quickly? Why did you treat all men as potential rapists of his daughter (in fact, all women)? Was Noah in danger? Was Harold sexually abusing his daughter and trying to avoid competitors? I had to do something.

Meanwhile, I had changed my phone number from an Israeli number to an American number, and I was able to contact Harold again. When I spoke to him, I don’t remember the sequence of what he did. All I remember is that Harold threatened me with the intervention of the United States Ambassador. He told me that I was a disgusting person, cursed by God. He went with his daughter to the police and made a statement about harassment. He sent it to me. He said he couldn’t believe he was in the same country as me. Bear in mind, maestro, I told him nothing of my love for his daughter. I just told him I was worried about her. Everything was so weird, and I wanted to talk to her directly about the situation. Finally, her father assured me that Noah would take care things herself.

Maestro, I’ll tell you about the only conversation ever I had with Noah van Ouwerkerk. She called me on Facebook Messenger. It was like listening to her father again. She told me they had already gone to the police and she didn’t want to take any further action. She said that she didn’t want me to say anything and that she didn’t want to hear anything from me. That he didn’t want to know anything about me or have anything to do with me. She added that I was a disgusting person and cursed by God, and that she couldn’t believe I was in the same country as her. Yes, maestro, she used exactly the same words as her father! Then she informed me that under absolutely no circumstances did he want to hear any word about me for the rest of her life. Then she hung up.

Maestro, I was completely traumatized. So, of course, I went to a sex shop.

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