I was late for class, but it was a beatiful day. I stopped for a minute halfway to the main building, and took in the flowers, the blue sky, the white stone buildings. Neve's campus was always nice, but even more so on this near perfect spring day.I was 20 years old, it was 75 degrees, I was in Jersalem, and if I stepped on it, I would only be five minutes late to my favorite class.
I was about to hurry on when someone tapped me on the shoulder. Startled, I spun around. A girl--a woman? --maybe five years older than me stood there. She smiled and blinked and seemed a little uncomfortable. "Are you D?" her voice was quiet, refined.
"Yeah, can I help you with something?" she did look vaguely familiar, but that's how I am with faces. Vague.
"Hi. Um. You probably don't remember me. Do you remember me?"
"Uh, no. But that doesn't mean anything. I'm totally hopeless at remembering anyone...sorry."
"That's okay. I just need to tell you something."
I nodded encouragingly and made what I hoped was an interested face, not one that told her that I was going to be even later for class. "Go ahead. Do you want to sit down?"
"No, that okay. I'm late for class."
"I just wanted to tell you that I am here because of you."
Interest no longer feigned, I looked at her more closely. She had beautiful eyes. I had no idea who she was.
"I arrived here, on the campus, around 6 weeks ago. I'm in the building next door to yours. I was feeling kind of down when I got here because of things at home, and things that I was going through, and there are so many people here. I was totally lost. I had no idea why I had even come here. I wanted to learn about Judaism, I guess, but this was so overwhleming. I felt unwanted."
She paused. A butterfly flew by.
"I decided to leave. I didn't need this. I would spend the rest of my trip at a friend's apartment in Tel Aviv and then go home. Then I saw you. You walked out of your dorm and towards the main building. You must have seen me coming out of my building at the corner of your eye, because you turned. And I decided to stay. And here I am."
"I...I'm really glad? That you stayed? But I don't get it, I'm sorry. What did I do? Why did you stay?"
She was quiet for a minute, fidgeting with her necklace. Then she looked at me and shrugged. "I'm not really sure, actually. You introduced yourself. You asked me my name. You asked me how long I was here for. You asked me if I needed any help with anything. And you smiled. And I guess I just needed to see a friendly face because then I thought, I can do this. I can stay. And I did."