The truth is, we are an odd couple, Gidon and I. He is from the Czech Republic, I am from California, I like cats, him not so much, I like Asian-fusion food, he loves potatoes and gravy, he likes romantic books, I mostly read nonfiction, he’s into football, I never got sports, I am 55 and he is 84. But we have a lot in common, too, like our mutual love of camping, bingeing on Netflix, making soups in the winter, swimming together in the summer, reading books quietly in the evening and playing “rotten egg” at bedtime. We also like to sing duets together and our repertoire includes everything from “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” to a rousing rendition of “Shalom Aleichem.”
We met in a café in Israel in 2017, to discuss a book Gidon was writing about his life. I am an editor by trade and he had been referred to me. At first, I was hesitant, but I simply could not resist Gidon’s sparkling blue eyes, playful manner and mischievous smile. We started hanging out together, doing errands and seeing movies, and a few months later, decided to just be sensible and move in together. I think we surprised a lot of people, who wondered what on earth we had in common, what with our differences about cats and potatoes.
The book is progressing apace and has become more than either of us ever imagined, as we add more experiences and reflections to the pages. Gidon spent four years in the Terezin concentration camp but he refuses, in word and in deed, to be defined by that terrible time. His life has been a series of adventures, some of them a bit crazy and misguided, others very rewarding, that included two marriages and six children. For a man who does not consider himself to be educated, Gidon knows more than a little bit about the art of living and aging well. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not all sunshine and roses and neither am I. But we are both old enough to appreciate each other, for the brief time that we have together, and to let life’s cranky moments roll on by, as they are wont to do.
I have no doubt in my mind that in this specific moment in my life and in Gidon’s, we are meant to be together. Can I get a shehecheyanu?!
Julie Gray is an editor and writer living in Tel Aviv. A long-time Huffington Post contributor, Julie has written for The Times of Israel, Script Magazine, and The Sanskrit Literary Journal. She is the director of the Tel Aviv Writer’s Salon and is working on a book, together with her beshert, called The True Adventures of Gidon Lev.