For nine and a half hours the Israeli solider sitting next to me on the plane was completely silent, but as we began to descend and my ears slowly congested with pressure he suddenly got chatty. "What was that?" I kept asking. He'd laugh in response, or nod gravely as if we had an understanding. "I'm sorry," I'd repeat, raising my voice, "what?" At one point he leaned over me and pointed out the window. "There. See that line across the land?" I pictured us both in full scuba diving gear, his words slowly reaching me through a sea of blue jello. Thhhheeerre. See that liiiiine .... acrosssss the laaaaand?
I finally nodded.
"That is the wall that separates them and us. That is all there is. Just a few feet separating the two. That is them, that is us." He shrugged. "And the airport is just barely on our side."
"Wow," I shouted. " ... is it safe?"
"Is what safe?"
I swirled vaguely with my hand down toward the earth, treading atmosphere. "Where we're going. The airport. Is it safe there?"
He was taken aback. "Of course it's safe!"
"Haha, well good."
He settled back into his seat, letting a few minutes of disgruntled silence pass. "What is safe anyway," he said. "Nowhere is safe. Just don't be stupid. It's like ... Harlem in the 90s."
"What?" I said.