I arrived in Israel one year ago today. I have had:
- 3 jobs (+ countless freelance projects)
- 2 gym memberships
- 7 trips to the National Health Insurance building to get coverage – speaking of, I think I owe them money. I should pay that, or else I’ll have to go back. That. Must. Not. Happen.
- 2 articles published in 3 places
- a bike crash, attended a protest, not seen a single camel and grown alien-strength nana (mint) and basil.
A year ago, something was missing in my life. I had this ache, an empty place indside me only filled with the knowledge that I had to go out and explore the world and myself. I wasn’t living the life I wanted. I know this sounds airy-fairy-new-agey, but it’s true.
So I moved.
A year ago today, I landed at the airport, met by my cousin and whisked away to the kibbutz. I managed to clamber out of that potential quicksand pit (lovely beautiful small community with lots of family and pretty easy life – and utterly terrible for “exploring the world and myself.” But I digress) and stumble into Jerusalem, find a job & an apartment & the life to fill that void. I’ve gotten lost everywhere from the Old City to the most hardcore Jewish neighborhood in the world (ok it was right next to it, but still.) and successfully argued with assholes – excuse me, merchants and taxi drivers – who tried to take advantage of my white-girl-ness.
A year is so much time, but really it isn’t. It doesn’t feel like it’s been a year. And yet everything I’ve learned via the experience, about myself and the world and this country and my roots, can’t possibly fit into 365 days. Last night I dreamt in Hebrew, after going to this new jazz pub (with great beer) owned by an old Russian lesbian couple, getting into loud and overheated and inappropriate arguments about racism and the white man’s dominance, and sex and sexuality – all in Hebrew.
Someone recently said to me, in explanation of why he’ll move back to the US soon, “I’m tired of being a foreigner.” My response was, “I think you’ll find that once you’ve lived overseas, you’re always going to be a bit of a foreigner – home is never really the same.” And it’s true. I grew up as a foreigner, Israeli in the US and American in Israel. At least now I know what it truly means to be both. This is the fulfillment of who I am – Israeli in practice, not just blood and culture.
All this, after only one year. What will the next year bring? Where will I be a year from now? I didn’t know I would still be here, a year ago. Wouldn’t necessarily have guessed it. Certainly not in Jerusalem! This country has an inexplicable pull. Have I put the word ‘year’ in here enough?
This experience has been amazing. First I was scared, then I was uncomfortable, now I am home.