Saturday, July 10, 2010

These things just don't happen in America...

Taxi drivers in Israel are a whole species to themselves. They're pushy and rude, friendly and helpful, get way too personal, and you always feel like they're scamming you, no matter what. I don't take cabs a lot, but when I do, I usually come out with a good story. Here's the one that still amazes me, over a year later.

I was exhausted. The wind was blowing my hair in my face, my backpack seemed to get heavier by the minute, and although I had been standing with my hand out for 10 minutes, no cars were stopping. Finally, I decided to give up and take the next taxi that came by. He asked for 45 shek, I asked for the meter, and we started to drive. The driver was wearing a kippah, and was very friendly. He asked me questions non-stop for the first couple minutes. I answered automatically.
Yes, I am American.
Yes, I want to make aliyah.
Yes, I am Jewish.
Am I religious? Yes.
Do I like being religious? Of course.
Do I know what a Tehillim is? Yes, I know what a Tehillim is.
He pulled one out of his glove compartment and hands it to me. It’s green, and wrapped in plastic. It looks like it’s been used before.
This is beautiful, I say, and try to hand it back to him.
He turns around.
Keep it, he says. It used to belong to my daughter.
He tells me how beautiful she was and how sweet and smart. She had two degrees in medicine, and was thinking about getting married. One day she went to sleep, and she never woke up.
He looked at me. I didn’t know what to say. How long ago, I asked.
He pauses to think. Two years ago. He takes the Tehillim from me, looks at it, and hands it back again.
Whenever you feel alone, or sad, and you want to talk to someone, whenever you feel sick, when you’re worried about a friend or your family, read from this Tehillim, he tells me. Read it when you're ready to get married. You’ll feel better.
I smile, and thank him. I’m sorry about your daughter, I say. He tells me that Hashem gave her to him for 22 years, and he’s thankful for each one.
I open my backpack to put the Tehillim away and he sees my Siddur. He smiles.
You’re a good girl, he says. My daughters name was Sharon.
That’s a pretty name, I answer.
We pull up to my kibbutz, and I get out of the taxi.
Thank you again for the Tehillim, I say before I walk away. He smiles at me, and waves goodbye.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sometimes the rest of your life starts with goodbye....

My best friends left Israel a couple weeks ago. They left and went back to America, back to the rest of their lives. I miss them always. This is what I wrote after I got home from saying goodbye.

They said making Aliyah would be difficult. They said maybe it wasn’t worth it, because of how hard it would be. I thought they were talking about setting up my bank account, getting my health insurance, learning the language…

I thought I had succeeded and proved them wrong. See? I did it. I did it all, and never once did I regret my decision to move here. I thought they were crazy, those people who told me not to do it. Israel is our home, I would say. It’s where we belong. It’s where I’ve always wanted to be. Why should some “difficulties” hold me back from living my dream?

It was beautiful outside today. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and it was the kind of hot that made you want to lie outside for hours.

My best friends left me today. We grew up together. I’ve had almost 20 years of memories so far, and most of the amazing ones I’ve had they’ve been there for. The few that they’ve missed they heard about over midnight slurpees.

They all went back to America today. I watched them pack their things. I waited with them until their Nesher came to take them away. And then we said goodbye.

In high school, I said goodbye to my friends more times than I can count, but I was always the one leaving. I always knew I would come back for Chagim, I would come back for summers. I always knew I would come back. This time, I can’t come back. This time, our lives are about to change, and our time as “us” is over. I don’t doubt for a moment that we’ll all stay friends. That’s not over. But those midnight talks, those spur of the moment sleepovers, those days we spent driving our lives away in circles – those times are over. The years when they knew every detail of every moment that happened in my life – that’s gone. Now, we’re just part of each other’s worlds but no longer main characters in them. That’s why when we said goodbye this time, it felt different. And that’s why I couldn’t stop crying. And that’s why, for the first time since September, I wondered if I made the right choice by moving here.

I’m listening to my ipod on shuffle, and Zac Brown Band is telling me how much he likes his chicken fried. That song always puts me in a good mood, but now I’m just thinking about how I don’t really know what chicken fried is.

I’ll miss them a lot. We had a great last day together, looking at pictures from the past and talking about our fears for the future. We all gave so much of ourselves to each other over the past 19 years, and now that they’re gone, it feels as though a part of me has gone too.

It’s hard when life changes. It’s hard when you can’t stop it from going places you aren’t ready to be. But at the same time, Hashem has given me the most amazing life path I could possibly have. I just have to trust Him that everything will turn out okay. I know I’m not alone, but I cant help but feel lonely.

The next stage of my life is about to begin, and although I’m still crying because I miss you, I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

I love you guys, and I miss you, and I will think about you every day.