Sunday, September 2, 2012

Tying Up the Ends

It has been a long and interesting two months since I last wrote. My life has been turned upside-down, with all the excitement and sadness that goes with it. With the passing of my Saba, a chapter of my life has ended and with it a large piece of the childhood I have always known, but with it new beginnings have lit my way and I am in the tumult of great transition. One nice solace are the pictures I snapped photos of from the years gone by. Here are a few:

With my Savta, wearing her roses for my birthday

On my Saba and Savta's steps

Baking with Savta


My beautiful Savta when she was younger than I am now!

My first painting to be displayed in a gallery show
 While Israel will never be the same as it once was when my grandparents were alive, I will always have the experiences I shared with them embedded on me, in me, within me. Maybe it's better that way. All things must end, isn't that what people say? And after my experience as a fellow with JDC, I have seen different prisms in the spectrum of Israeli society; the good and the ugly, the profound and the silly, the crazy customs and in-your-face feeling of family you can't find anywhere else and the happy tranquility of gazing at the dusty white stones of buildings thousands of years old. I have learned about immigration issues, population problems, the dire situation of youth at risk from all colors of society--Russian, Ethiopian, Arab, Religious, Secular, American, French--we are all one piece of the fabric of this land. I have seen great goodness in the simple gesture of a young teenage boy helping an old man climb onto the bus and witnessed the ruckus and tumble of impatient drivers honking their horn at the air; I have been on lines that crowd into one steady spilled pulp on the sidewalk and navigated my way to the front, learning how to knock some elbows shamelessly on my way; I have felt the power of a strong family unit, one that holds each other up during the hardest and happiest times; I have learned to open my mouth and risk saying something stupid rather than not saying anything at all because I am scared of making a mistake; I have learned to laugh off the feeling of always being 'other' in a land where I am surrounded by my own. I have seen, breathed, smelled, witnessed, felt the energy of thousands of lives swaying together on one collossal ship that is the Jewish people and all of the noise and pinching and poking and laughter and smiles and good energy that comes with it. We are sailing through a sea of sharks, one of rough waters that is nonetheless sweet with the smell of rose water wafting through the air and good times ahead, always looking forward, looking back if only to learn, and planning for the moment not for tomorrow. I still use my schedule and I still have trouble rolling my r's but I do so with the pride of being one more piece in the puzzle that makes up the country of the Jewish people.

I have made friends with my family and created a family of my friends, picked my way closer to the rough and grit that is real life and continued to try to make those lemons into sweet lemonana (lemonade with mint, a popular delicious drink). But here despite the fact that the sabra plant has its thorns, it is also already so sweet and ripe for the picking. That's how I feel here in Israel. Always on the cusp of something great and standing on the grounds of history that have built us up before. Each story is connected to the other and every Israeli knows the other's friend. I don't know where my particular story will end but I know where it began, and it was here, started with the simple dream to establish a Jewish State, that took my grandparents across a war and camps and battles to finally realize their dream of a proud, accomplished, Israeli, Jewish family. And that we are. We will see where we will go from here.

And now for a glimpse of the past two crazy months (and an excuse, I hope, for why I haven't written until now). The dust has finally *begun* to settle:

-Sat shiva with family and friends, talked, laughed, cried, reminisced, and been touched tenfold by the outpouring of love and affection that graced me during this difficult time.
-Learned to be a little more Israeli and simply invited myself over to the homes of those I care for.
-Begun a journey of greater flexibility and going-with-flow attitude, sometimes triumphing and mostly failing, but I'm hanging in there.
-Talked a lot more on the phone. Whenever my fingers itch to call my Saba, instead I am channeling that energy into talking more with others who I care about. So far so good.

-Spent a lovely distraction of four days in Paris with my grandparents, changing dresses every half day, strolling the streets, wandering through museums, eating delicious food, sharing stories, going shopping, taking lots of pictures, catching up with some family, and eating more really good food.
-Realized when I landed that Israel will simply never be the same again. It's sad. I will never have to rush to the bathroom in the Ben Gurion airport to freshen up so that when I see Saba and Savta's smiling faces, I will feel ready to greet them. It's also a new opportunity. I can create a new Israel for myself now.
Rooftop view of the opera house

At the Louvre, although you can't tell

Me and my crepe!

Dinner by the Eiffel

With my grandpapa

Wandering into the Rodin Museum

My wonderful grandparents

A view from the carousel by the Toullieries Garden

Place D'Concorde

-Fallen deeper and deeper in love.
-Gone on a magical trip through Sweden and Norway with my sweetheart. Every small village was overflowing with crystal blue lakes, rising majestic mountains with waterfalls splashing from almost every peak, glaciers, rain that led to many a rainbow, flowing rivers with hints at the vibrant wildlife flitting among the waves, hikes, warm smiles, camping, woods, the midnight sun, laughter, and many piles of white plastic-covered (we think it was) wheat on every farm we passed. We slept in our cozy little tent (in the rain, cold, wind, and yet it was warm), cooked wild salmon outdoors overlooking a breathtaking lake that shifted colors beneath the late evening sun, and collected memories.
-Returned to a reality that overwhelmed me only to be wrapped up in the arms of good friends, colleagues, and my wonderful caring family.
-Met my boyfriend's friends and family, slowly but surely, and begun to partake in the sweet work of intertwining our lives.

(The following pictures are crazy out of order, but still nice for your perusing pleasure):

Yes, that is my boyfriend you see standing on his head!
Beautiful island in the Stockholm archipelago

The Stockholm Synagogue

Hold on to that rainbow!
We were just driving by, minding our own business...

Can this country maybe stop being so beautiful?

The longest tunnel in Europe, 1/2 hour long drive

Our fresh salmon meal

View of our hotel

My cousin's 100 year old grandmother's childhood home

Random stint in Warsaw
Skansen Zoo and Botanical Garden

Where the Great Synagogue of Warsaw once stood

The remainder of the Warsaw Ghetto

We made it to the top!!

-Undertaken the staggering challenge of job searching through connections and "protectsia" that rules the land. Connection led to connection led to connection led to maybes, interesting stories, some strange instances, and so far still just ideas. But good ideas.
-Learned how many people care about me and want to help me.
-Packed up and moved my life to Haifa.
-Searched for an apartment.
-Interviewed. Sometimes arrived at what I thought was an interview and it just wasn't.
-Tried to be accepted into a new community of academics that will revitalize the neighborhood of Hadar in Haifa. Been limited in apartment searches because of that.

-Made aliyah! I am an official citizen of Israel with the right to vote, her own bank account, soon to be Israeli credit card (and hopefully job that pays for said assumed future charges), an identification number, and new responsibilities.

-Planned my trip to New York! Soon, for the holidays, I get to see all of my friends and family back at home. What could be sweeter?
-Taken the capabilities of skype to a new level. 

Doors open and close. Paths change and divide. I am over-swept by new tastes, sounds, ideas.  I don't know where I'll be in a few months or what I will be doing. I don't know who I will still meet. But I do know that I will be somewhere warm and happy, full of color and fun, new ideas and challenges, and who knows what else?

Thank you for following me throughout this vivid year. This is only the beginning.

Shana tova to all! I can't believe we are here again so soon. 

This one's for you, Saba. I love you.

1 comment:

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