I contemplate the two ten shekel pieces (roughly $5) on the table and thus begin the calculations of how many carrots, green squash, and onions I can buy to make a soup. And will there be some extra shekels left over for the purchase of soup nuts for sprinkling on top of the soup?

The soup steams into my face and smells like earthy caverns and caves. The ten shekel pieces are round and hard. They smell metallic and sit side by side like impossibly identical twins. There was never any question that they would come out different from one another while the soup is eccentric and hopelessly personal. It gets even more so when I let myself experiment by tucking in smudges of cumin and detonating small explosions of cayenne pepper. And yet the soup and those twin ten shekels are inextricably connected, as the soup waits for that twenty shekels to be released up above and come crashing down on the table top.

The soup and those twin ten shekels are inextricably connectedThey have been given over from hand to hand to hand, far from their place of origin. They have made soups possible, but they have also facilitated bus rides and gasoline for private cars and their passengers. They've inched their way into the giant bill for the electricity even though they cover only a small percentage of the total. Not to degrade them. They symbolize what they symbolize—each one confers the 10 shekel status that should neither make or break anyone. However, believe it or not, without them, sometimes all is lost. No milk and sugar for the coffee or no coffee.

Without their contribution to the full amount, all would definitely be lost. The electricity would be turned off, and we would be sitting in the dark, drinking our soup mixed with our tears.

Now I will carry them in my pocket on the way to the store and fill my bags with the makings of soup. I will count out onions, weighing them in my hands to approximate their cost. These identical twins will pass to the man at the store and be deposited in his till, the drawer that opens and closes on them all day long until they sail out again into the hands of someone else as change for that one hundred shekel bill.

We played with their likeness as children, but these are the real thing. Their weight, the way they glint in the sun, the way they fall precisely on their faces.

Sometimes I search for them in the silky fabric inside my pocket book. One never knows when they can slip out of your hands and hide in there. Sometimes I wait for them. I and the soup wait for them, and I wonder if I will ever merit seeing them again. I wonder if this is the punishment—long and fearful waiting- for my childhood misdemeanor of dismissing their worth.

When they told me my whole life depended on those coins and bills, I refused to believe. After all, I could not eat or drink them even when hunger gnawed at my edges. They were slippery and thin and could not shelter me from the wind. They were cold to the touch and didn't touch me back. They never kissed me on the forehead or tucked me in at night. They seemed even lonelier than me but never said a word to breach the distances.

I knew they could mean ice cream cones and bubble gum, sling bags, and high heeled shoes, but how could I live for them? How could I spend my days at a desk with a phone in my hand, saying "Pfizer Drug Company" for their sake? How could I spend the whole morning waiting for my coffee and toasted bagel and the few words I exchanged with the woman typist on my left? "No," I said to those who told me to trade in my life for them. No, I would rather live under the open sky with candles to light the page of my book. And they retorted, "Even candles cost money."

I will not staple my dreams and ambitions to the bank statementsSo be it, I said, then I'll read by the light of the full moon, and on days when the moon hides on the other side of the earth, I'll read the pages of the velvet night hills, the slope of the horizon, and wait for the rosy dawn. But I will not wait for money, will not count and calculate and dream of piles getting higher and coffers filling. I will not staple my dreams and ambitions to the bank statements.

I turned my back on all those piles of coins and stacks of paper bills. I said those bills and coins are for others, but not for me.

They had more advanced arguments I would rather not mention. They were arguments about health insurance and inevitable things like dying. They cared about me, what if I needed doctors, and then they would have to pay the bills. They even said things like, "I hope you won't have to come crawling to me."

They are the same ones who insist that my stories must have a certain shape zig zagging up and down and with dialogue and lots of plot at well calculated intervals. I let them into my mind where they still talk to me now and then, but I moved away where I was far out of earshot.

I foraged in the dark earth for potatoes and placed my hopes in the tiny carrot seed, and I was not disappointed. It grew feathery green leaves and stems, while under the ground, the tiny carrot fattened and grew on juices from the earth and waters from the heaven.

I sewed together my dress from scraps of other dresses whose rich memories dripped into the seams. Without a sofa, I leaned against trees and as their sap rose, I heard conversations you would never believe. Without a roof, I swayed beneath canopies of leaves. I got comfortable with those kinds of words and spaces. I envied no one because I had no piles to measure and no money to comprehend. I could watch the night sky for its simple sake without calculating borders.

I learned to make "Whatever You Have Soup." I put in things that were threatening to stop being food like onions with long green stems shooting up and peppers whose wrinkles were spreading and softening all its smooth contours. I put in spices that had names in another language, hoping that would do what they had always done as their original selves.

I delighted in stories of my tribe's sojourn in the desert. For forty years, they wore the same garment and they dined on a kind of dew that tasted like cakes fried in honey. Now I knew where I was coming from. I knew in my bones that I remembered a time before stores and money, banks and credit cards. I had walked through the desert surrounded by Clouds of Glory. My clothes had never worn out and my food appeared at my doorstep. I got warm from those memories sunken within me.

Instead of counting money, I counted windows. The more windows the better. In one house where I lived, there was only one big window at the entrance and two small ones at the back. The cooking smells filtered through all the rooms until they could finally make an exit.

I was always counting the children to make sure I hadn't left anyone behind when I crossed the street. And then I went back to counting the windows in other people's homes. They usually had more, and that's when I realized the truth of the statement: "Comparisons are unhealthy."

What happened to the dire predictions of those voices in my head? I neglected to teach my children the laws of counting and their permutations and combinations. I prayed they would manage without it and never care to calculate what they lacked or what they might gain. I kissed them and tucked them in at night, but I didn't save for their future. They ate Whatever Soup without complaining, and sometimes one portion was slivered into many. They learned how to chew and chew until they found every taste imaginable in the kasha. When I asked them why they loved me, they closed their eyes and thought, then answered, "You're always there."

What happened to the dire predictions of those voices in my head? Granted, there were many, many things I didn't buy and many, many things I didn't do because I had spent my last twenty shekels on the soup. But then again I saved myself from all kinds of controversies, narrow straits, and nasty choices because I had kept things simple.

At night the wind blows through my empty fingers, and I persist in pressing my ear against the bark of trees to listen.