When I left my husband in 1971, I also left my job producing his radio talk show. I had two suitcases of clothes, temporary residence in a friend's extra bedroom and was an emotional wreck. Unlike my parents, I had always said, I would never divorce.
Now I'd started the ball rolling in that direction and felt disconnected, unattached, with nowhere to belong. No home, no job, no money and no sense of what the next day would bring, let alone the rest of my life. Like many women of my age and in that era, when things went wrong with a man, I wallowed in my misery listening Carole King's Tapestry album - in retrospect, not one of the better ideas I ever had.
The one smart thing I did was give myself time to become accustomed to my new state of being. I went where whim directed me each day and one of those was to spend some afternoons with my friend, Sali Ariel.
She probably doesn't know it (and I doubt I've ever said thank you), but those days with Sali and her then-husband, Terry, helped ground me through one of the top two or three roughest periods of my life.
It's not that we did anything special: we talked, listened to music, Bob Dylan came by for his Hebrew lessons with Terry and to play backgammon. These good people just let me be for a few weeks while time worked its magic until I returned to something resembling normal.
One of the things about old friends is that you don't have to explain yourself. They were there with you for the good and the bad which gives them an understanding of you that new friends – welcome as they are – cannot know.
And one of the things about keeping a blog is that you can write about anything or anyone you want. Today it is Sali.
Sali reminded me in a recent email that we met probably in 1969 when all of the disparate “movements” of the day were held together by their common objection to the Nixon administration and the Vietnam War. I booked a lot of those people on my husband's radio show – Abby Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Paul Krassner, Sali's husband Terry, even “Dylanologist” A. J. Weberman. And without my noticing it as it happened, in all our hanging out together with these mutual friends and acquaintances, Sali became my friend.
Not much later, Sali and Terry moved to Israel. No internet in those days, but we kept in touch by letter and Sali sometimes stayed with me when she visited New York. What was happening in her life, in addition to her own divorce, was her emergence as a remarkable and respected artist.
One of my visits with her in Israel coincided with a show of a series of her large paintings of nudes. Besides being beautiful, they were gigantic, but Sali gave me a set of miniature prints she'd had made which are now grouped on a wall across from my bed so they are the first thing I see when I wake; Sali comes to mind pretty much every morning of my life.
Here is a closeup of the middle painting which is my favorite - or maybe not. I like them all.
Three weeks ago, Sali sent an invitation to the opening of her new show of paintings celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of Tel Aviv's founding. It is times like this I lament I don't have the kind of money that allows me to jump on an airplane to be there with an old friend when something special happens. About the paintings, she told an Israeli blogger:
“I started seeing the Ramat Gan business district going up and all the big tall buildings on Rothschild Boulevard and while I don’t think that’s bad, I was afraid we would forget how Tel Aviv looked. I also felt inevitably, Tel Aviv had to change, but I didn’t know if it was for better or for worse. I wanted to document it for people in the future so they would know how Tel Aviv was in our time.”
Sali has been painting Tel Aviv for several years and what I love about them is they perfectly capture the feel and memory I have of the city from my visits. Here are a few:
I forwarded the invitation for the show opening to Tamar Orvel who blogs at Only Connect and lives in Tel Aviv for half the year. She had to be out of town that day, but said she would visit the show when she returns which, if memory serves, is about now.
If anyone reading this happens to live in Tel Aviv or knows someone who does, it would be nice if you let them know about Sali's show. It is at the Rosen Center Gallery through 22 April. And if you see Sali, give her a hug for me.
2 Dresner Street
Ramat Aviv Gimmel
You can see paintings from Sali's earlier shows at her website.
God I wish I could just stop by Sali's place and hang out again for an afternoon.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Norm Jenson recounts a tale of chess and automobiles in Catching Zs.]