Yes. I’m a month late in writing this. So shoot me.
July 3rd was my 1 year anniversary of being an Israeli. I celebrated it quietly and singularly in Fairfield, CT. I was back in the States for a few weeks visiting my family and friends, and doing a bit of work as well (that included a trip to Cleveland, of which I will talk about in a bit).
I stayed the first week or so at my neighbor’s house, directly across from my old house on Woodbine Lane. I swear to you . . . it bothered me none. I had left that house long before the day I moved out. Actually, it was a rather freeing feeling. Not having something as big as a house filled with all the “stuff” that one accumulates was almost heady. Of course, a small portion of that “stuff”still remains at Fran’s basement in Weston, awaiting disbursement to the various kids who will need something for their apartments. Eventually, I’ll have to cull through all that stuff and simplify dramatically, but for this year it was good to know that I had a bit of leeway. Should you need something for one of your kid’s apartments, please let me know. I’ll bet I’ve got something down there.
I would be remiss if I didn’t share one most remarkable experience while back in the US. My friend, Laima, married the love of her life, Mukund Nori. It happened in a series of ceremonies that spanned a private wedding in one of the most exquisite back yards I’ve ever been in—pond, gentle jets of water arching into the air, rolling hills, cupola . . . then a quick ride to a 2-hour Hindu wedding ceremony. The beauty of that ceremony will surely stay with me for years, with everything movement being a symbolic gesture. It was a pure delight and the 2 hours raced for me. If I remember anything about that day years from now, I hope it will be how their saris were tied together in a knot—put into that knot was money, then sweet and bitter spices representative of their future lives together. Tying the knot. Literally and beautifully.
Cleveland. Ohio. Have you been there? Are you Jewish? If you are and you’d like to know what it would be like to live in an American Israel, I recommend a visit there. It’s as if the city is Jewish Disney Land. I never saw so many large, new, impressive buildings that all were there for the Jewish community. The Federation building is amazing. The schools. The synagogues, the Jewish shops. There’s no recession there. I will never make cracks about the Midwest again. Never.
But back to Afula. While I was gone to the US, I received so many phone calls and emails from friends wanting to make sure I was OK and would be coming back to Israel. Did they really think I would get to the US and decide that I didn’t want to return? I guess so. Was I happy to return to Israel? Yes. I wish I could pack up my family and bring them with me. Doesn’t seem likely, but they’ll just have to come for visits. Being with my brother, my children, my family, my friends . . . it was wonderful. But I began to get antsy. I wanted to begin my return home—2 hours to drive to the airport (my dear, dear friend June drove me there), 3 hours at the airport, 11 hours on the flight, 1 1/2 more to get out and wait for a sherut to Jerusalem, 2 more to drive to Jerusalem where I could pick up my car, have a very strong cup of coffee, and begin the 1 1/2 hour drive back to Afula. When I finally approached the city, I began to cry as the surrounding hills and then my apartment building came into view. I just wanted to get “home.”
I’m now back 3 weeks. In that time I’ve forgotten what it was like to be in the US. Rocco has forgiven me for leaving him. The children at the Centre are on a bit of a break, staying with supporting families and friends, returning on Sunday to begin the next part of our summer program. Many of them remarked on my absence and were happy to see me again.
My daughter Zoe has arrived on her aliyah a week ago. It’s been a difficult week for her as she mourns the ending of her life as an American teenager, and tries to wrap her mind around all the un-knowables to come. Saying you’re going to have an adventure and move to the Moon and then unpacking your 3 suitcases when you land at Tranquility Bay are two very different things. I wish her much success. And I wish myself much patience. It will be interesting to read this entry a year from now and see where we all are.
And so my readers, I will let Rocco write the next entry, as he is straining at his lead to do so (a dog’s version of “chomping at the bit,” in case you didn’t get it).
I’m off to go swimming at Merhavia, a life-saver for me. Hugh pool, shaded spots, some on Astroturf, some on real grass . . . take your pick, I guess. Tonight I’ll go for another walk through the almond groves across from my apartment and see if I can’t filch an almond or two as it lay on the nets upon the ground, drying in the intensely hot Israeli sun. I rank the experience of eating one of them with that of pulling a fig and pomegranate from the tree and eating it within minutes of its detachment. Frankly, it doesn’t get much better than that.