I was coming back from Rothschild Boulevard at 2am accompanied by Rani Blair. We stopped by the activist's tent of Eretz Hadasha (New country) that was set up there. We came to say thank you, but we actually prayed for a hug. And we needed it desperately. Rani, that directed in his life just over 5,000 minutes of television dramas, that touched the deepest parts of people's soul and never really left them - "Shabatot Vehagim" (Saturdays and holidays), "Parashat Hashavua", "Noah's Ark", "Strike" and many more - was trying to direct yet another scene on his way to Rothschild Blvd. Hold on a moment, he told the taxi to pull over, we have to give them hope. The deal is done. It's tight-closed. We got a bit over one mandate, but it's over. The night is long, but we're out. Everybody ran to Yair Lapid's party. We don't want to sound like Shimon Peres at this moment. There's no seaman who've voted for us and there's no point in waiting for the soldier's votes. That's it.
We got defeated. By a knock-out.
We hugged with the activists from Rothschild blvd., and went back to my place. In the start of the evening, around 10pm, we could already do an inventory. Such a refined moment, that allows you to know who's a friend and who's a "contact". Only friends came to my house. Few. Few but worthy. Every person who was interested could hear the rumors about the results from the TV samples since 8pm already. The What'sups massages spread the rumors all across the country. The masses, nearly all of my thousand "contacts" in my i-Phone, that in the morning were inquiring by text about "where to go" and "where is the party", had apparently just did a U-turn and went on celebrating with the victorious. There's no reason they would want to come to a mourning tent on a evening like this.
"The mourning tent" was opened on the roof of my house. At 10pm sharp, in front the TV sampling. Everyone knew that soon enough Mina Zemach will explain that we didn't make it in, but maybe. And who knows. Mistakes happen don't they? and are we short on surprises? and who said the rumors are true? and then she explained we didn't make it in. Us and Rabi Amsalem. And Eldad. That extreme right-winged professor. Not the bold one. Some of us went out to the balcony to get some fresh air, to smoke. Mina was left all by herself, flickering on the screen. In the balcony a parliament was opened, tense and sad and cracking and embracing. All night long. Dana Mosevics, who was the first one to come and assist in setting up Eretz Hadasha, was also the first one to crush the funeral. She opened a champagne she had brought especially. For the moment of victory. She said, it's about time for a good champagne. Napoleon stated that in the moment of victory you deserve a good champagne and in defeat you need it, she said trying to make us laugh and poured everyone a glass. We drank. Laughed. Did cheers. There's still a future, isn't it?
The loss is on me
There's something very pure in moments of defeat. The defeat is more real and clear than the moments of victory. I am quite familiar with the joy of the victorious. I like that feeling. How can you not? The feeling of silence - we've lost - I remembered much less. I was familiar with it, with the feeling of defeat. Who doesn't. But I repressed it. I always shook off that feeling and blamed others for my defeats. Or at least that's the excuse I gave myself all those years. The losses in courts in which I represented clients, were always the defeats of the fraudulent clients. Now the defeat was all mine. Written with my name on it. It burns in the throat and it's pain. In the bones.
From the corner of my eye I saw Yotam, Omer and Roni. Omer and Yotam are the twin boys of Lior and me. Roni, our princess, shone in our lives four years later. Yotam and Omer explained her that we're losing. For the moment. Though they've already witnessed matches in which Hapoel Tel-Aviv scored a threesome during the second period and turned the tables. Yotam didn't let go of his i-phone. I thought he was playing about with some application. Though I breezily realized he's doing refresh, and refresh, and refresh - in the Israeli Central Elections Committee website. Over and over. Perhaps some votes will suddenly arrive from somewhere. I embraced his heart and told him he should stop. And maybe it's enough. Nothing's good is still threatening us tonight. And there won't be any second-half goals.
At one point, after everyone left already, it became clear to all of us, Lior and the kids and Rani, that it's time to go to bed. Yotam cried. Omer cried. Lior shed a tear. Rani chocked. Everyone cried. Besides me and Roni who fell asleep on the couch. Rani hugged us all like an older brother. Damn. And I wanted to cry so much, so much. Dry on the outside, wet on the inside. It burns inside the heart. That's the way I was raised. You choke and you don't cry, never reveal your heart. You need to hide it good. Deeply. So no one could see. I passed an entire life thinking like this you cannot get hurt. Just in the last few years I've learnt that when you don't cry, you don't feel. Living-dead. But my tears never passed my retina. I wanted to cry. I needed to. My eyes were glazed with tears, yet the wall I've built years ago, never came tumbling down. And it was more painful than constipation.
We packed the mountains of leftover food we bought for the victory party, which never happened, in plastic boxes and put it in the fridge. The food was for the loads of "contacts", who threatened in the morning they'd come in the evening for the television samples, and never showed up. Dozens of beers and roasted seeds and nuts, the pastries, the salads. We turned off Yonit Levi the TV broadcaster who spoke on mute most of the evening, and I didn't have the guts to look her in the eyes. We said goodbye to the few and worthy that stayed with us since ten o'clock, and Rani got on a taxi with the Get Taxi app. Waze showed that there wasn't any traffic on the way from Moshe Sharet st. to Borochov st. - from my place to his. For sure there isn't any traffic. How could it be. It's the middle of the night.
In a familial spoons position, on a single double bed, an extremely long journey has come to an end. In a single moment, after months of tense muscles and full of adrenalin, both of which kept me up at nights, I felt a terrible weakness. Limp like a floor-rag, I fell down on top of the bed. One blanket put us all to sleep. Five people in one bed, and Lili the dog on the floor beside us. Lior stretched her hand far away within the bedding, on top of Roni, Yotam and Omer, and stroked me in my bald spot. Together we slept shortly and deeply until the morning came. Embraced by all four of them - I think I fell asleep first. Like I haven't in months. Like a baby.
A day and a bit earlier I was still on the top of the world. At 7am - election day - everyone were still chasing me: Where you'll be at night? Where to come? "contacts" I haven't seen since the 6th grade sent me SMS's and what'sups. For months we travelled around the country. We covered every inch of it. Met thousands of people. We did everything, Rani and me, by ourselves. Hand-made. In the beginning nobody stood at our side. Whoever came, abandoned quickly. People that promised money assistance, ran away. Whoever came to advise about the strategy, escaped. People who thought to get a chair on the list, vaporized. It didn't settle well with anybody to be in a campaign that speaks out such painful truth. The advisor justified himself saying it would be impossible to recruit voters for such a campaign. I wouldn't be able to contribute anything for such a campaign, the others excused. From such a campaign you'll never get seats in the Knesset, justified those we wooed after in March.
Afterwards, a small group of wondrous and marvelous people that shared out vision joined us and gave it all they had. And believed. And hoped. Without an organized headquarters. Without a real budget. Without any helpers. With no paid talkback writers and activists that came in volunteering and demand salary later on, since that's the way in the other parties.
Facing the hostile media, threats on our lives and promises we won't have anywhere to work when the campaign will be finished - we kept on climbing the steep mountain.
And then the self-pity began
The little money we still had for the campaign I got from the bank. From family members. From close and personal friends. From myself. I mortgaged everything that was left in the house. I thought I could return it. That we'll get in. Into the 19th Knesset, that we'll get a budget. In a voyage that lasted months I got excited like never before. I touched love for the first time in my life. A pure one. Simple. One that doesn't depend on anything. My heart met theirs. I discovered that when you submit your heart, you get one back. Just like that. Simply. Honestly. Straightforwardly. I learned a lesson. A worthy one. For the rest of my life.
In the morning after the defeat, after a short and good sleep, I woke up in panic. And sweaty. On a winter's day, right? and naked. For the first time without an armor. Without a goal we must, but really must, conquer. Without any timetables. No identity. Nothing to hide me from myself. No roles in the play of life. It was only me, by myself.
I gazed upon Lior and the kids. They were still sleeping. They seemed sad. Or at least that's how I felt and I thought they feel the same. Projection, that's how Neta my psychologist refers to it.
I went to the roof and made coffee. Short and bitter espresso, no sugar. I walked on the roof. Like a prisoner in his daily yard-walk. Back and forth. Back and forth. Just like that, for several long minutes, in an area of just a few square feet. Tel-Aviv woke up a long time ago already. Beautiful, ugly and loved. And I? In less than a month's time I'll be 45. Ex-journalist. A former lawyer, a former political consultant. Where do I go from here? Who am I now? An unsuccessful candidate for the 19th Knesset?
Unsuccessful? a failure. Realize it, I told myself. I got it, I answered to myself. I understood.
That's another lesson the universe summoned me. I - a man who always sought after victory and never cared about who I ran over on the way - was defeated. Not just defeated. I was defeated in such a manner that the entire world could see. Everyone sees the shoe sole mark spread all over my face. The same mark exactly that was spread over so many faces, for so many years, that was made by my shoes.
I, a man who always lived in the illusion that I'm in the apex, experienced the illusion of abyss. The failure.
I really hated that word, failure. At 2am, election night, just before the morning of defeat, while Yotam and Omer were crying again, and Roni felt asleep woke up and fell asleep once again, I was still telling them the final result doesn't matter. That it was a magical and wonderful and exciting journey and that's what you remember eventually. The way. The flowers you meet and smell. In the morning, I forgot all about that. I didn't remember - not the way nor nothing of that kind. And no flowers. I got heartburn again. From the neck to bottom, and back. And pain again. In the bones.
And then the self-pity started. And shame. Oh what a shame. In the first few days I was afraid to go out. Meeting faces. Go for a walk with Lili the dog. I secluded myself with the family and a few close friends. The only people I felt comfortable to walk around naked next to.
I made another espresso. Rani sent a text massage. I answered. and again. he said: "Little brother, I feel you. You're having a panic attack. That's the way it feels. Breath. Breath. Get some fresh air". But how exactly can I breath? it was just the thing I wasn't able to do. To breath.
I felt I had no air and that I was drowning. The lost of identity. The feeling on nothingness. And the inability to escape somewhere and vanish. Mainly from myself.
What did I do, dear god? How did I take a bungee jump and scorched behind all of my safe and comfortable existence? And what would I do for a living? How can I repay so many debts? Why was I so complacent and arrogant and certain we'll succeed? What's going to happen tomorrow? Really, am I a little kid who thinks he can take on the world all by himself?
What's going to happen tomorrow? Tomorrow?! Today! right now.
How the hell did I imagine that Rani, myself and the rest of our magnificent group, will win over the entire world all by ourselves? And when will the retribution of all the people we stripped down in our "Method" movies we spread on the net will come?
Shmulik Hasperi, the playwright, and a friend, told me that I must check my car daily - from this day on. These people don't file libel suits. They turn the brakes in the car loose.
Ori Ramati, political consultant, another friend, told me that Idan Offer opened a champagne to celebrate, or at least that's what saying around town, because the dog, that's me, was left out and we're spared of the headache, now that we want to sell the Dead-sea to the Canadian company Potash.
The first days were the worst. I felt like I got a direct hit to the heart. One that really hurt. Really.
A few more months will pass until I'll realize how much people believed in me and Rani and the idea of Eretz Hadasha. Just over 28,000 people. Not enough to win the system and go in the Knesset, but the most that ever believed in me. A few more months will pass until I'll realize what a family I've got. How's Lior is the best thing that ever happened to me. How much I can learn from my kids, that reconnected me. The rarity and uniqueness of Rani, that became an elder brother, one that I've always wanted and never had. The touching nature of my parents, who assisted with the money. How special are Lior's parents, that opened a giant savings account without asking any questions and without finding out if I'll ever pay it back. And I was so surprised by Itay Adam, who popped into my life suddenly and became a very close friend. Love that's not contingent upon anything.
Some more time will pass until I'll understand that the illusions on being on top and in the abyss, are both deals with the devil. Released from both, for the first time in my life, I could actually understand what I really want. Freed from illusions, I could follow my heart.
But all of that didn't interest me at those first few days after the thing I experienced as the biggest downfall of my life. I was preoccupied with myself. With my pain. With pity. I felt lost and abandoned. In those full days until the kids came back from school and Lior from work. I went back and forth inside the house. Slept a lot. Escaped.
But mainly I was thinking, no kidding, to put an end to this enormous pain of mine at last.
This Text is based upon the first chapter from the forthcoming online book "U-turn" by Eldad Yaniv.