Three days ago, I made a decision to sit at a restaurant with my boss. Three days ago, I made a decision that saved my life.
In all the chaos that is the conflict in the Middle East, I didn’t know that I would be walking to a scene hours before it was too late. I was twenty feet from the firing. Twenty more feet to a different direction and I don’t know if I would be here today telling this story. And for that, I am only so grateful. Call it luck, chance, good reasoning, maybe even G-d that I’m here to tell the story. As each day passes, I feel more and more detached to the situation. It feels more like a story and less as a reality and I don’t know if that’s good or bad anymore. I wanted to let you know, attempt to describe to you in words what happens to you when you witness that situation.
First, you’re oblivious. As you should be. It’s always in the deep dark depths of your mind that one can be at the wrong place at the wrong time, but really, you don’t think that the percentage could ever in a million years include you. You as a statistic. You as someone that was there, that was near, that was eating at a restaurant twenty feet away, you as almost dying if not for a last minute decision.
Second, you’re in shock. There were about three seconds that your mind and body can’t comprehend what it is that’s going on. Three seconds where your mind is coming up with every single possible reasoning as to why this sound is piercing your eardrums than the possible obvious one. Three seconds where you hope that you here fireworks. That you hope that these people are children and not adults. But in three seconds, hope is gone.
Third, you’re in the middle of everything. As I turned my head back to look into the eyes of my new friend, we both knew that we had to get out of there. Not knowing what you do in this situation other than do anything to save your life, I got on the ground on my stomach as Idan did. I did everything as Idan did. I ran past all the chairs thrown on the ground and I ran past glasses shattered upon impact when everyone else had their realizations. I can sometimes still hear the screaming. Of the people, of the people not knowing if they were next, if we were next, if one will come into the building and start shooting as well.
Fourth, you’re following. Clutching onto someone else’s hand trusting them to save your life. Getting on the ground near the bushes, near the air conditioner, running to the door once more to finally go upstairs and find an alcove away from what looks like danger. Following Idan’s eyesight to his toe that is bleeding after the mess we ran through. You’re following instructions to stay put, to make sure other people know you’re okay, to tell loved ones you’re fine.
Fifth, you’re processing. Processing what the fuck actually happened. Flooded with so many emotions about how you made it to safety. That you weren’t twenty feet away eating at a different restaurant, sitting at a different table. Realizations then flood in, fear starts realizing itself into your body and you can’t help but to see your life pass in front of your eyes and tell the world that you’re too damn young to die at the age of 19. You’re processing what just happened, and boy are you happy in the future to be able to tell the story. That you were in fact there when it happened, you heard what happened, that you were close where it happened.
Sixth, you’re stuck in your thoughts. The hours pass by and you’re still in shock. You talk things out but they still don’t seem real. You make jokes seeing as that is the only real way to cope through things and you keep replaying those hours. Those minutes when you didn’t know when and where your life would be taking you. Just knowing that the person you’re with will know. It replays in your mind and you can’t help but recall the second you decided to eat at one restaurant over the other. Because truly, that’s when your fate was decided.
Seventh, you’re writing about it. You’re still processing what just happened, but things are better. You’ve talked about it a lot, you’ve thought about it a lot, but you’re looking at the brighter side of the story. That they didn’t take more lives, that they were caught, that they didn’t run to the building next door. That you have a cool story to tell when you go back to the States.