Missing Israel

I’m signing up for so many volunteer things I may as well be back in Israel. The truth is I moved to LA in a bit of an unnecessary rush, such that I don’t think I fully wrapped my mind around what I’d be getting into (nor did I know) when I made the decision to “pursue my career” by leaving Israel. Now, what on Earth?

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I don’t know if I’m romanticizing my time in Jaffa (probably), or if I took my freedom of schedule and worries for granted (definitely), but somehow I’m here in LA and I keep shaking my head trying to get a grip like, Sam, what were you thinkin girl?But I’m taking things day by day, and while I don’t feel thrilled, I also don’t feel terrible and I think if I were to return to Israel it would be with a bit more seriousness—as in, living there for a longer while (either to do a graduate degree, or, I’m scared to say it, but possibly make aliyah???)

Where did these Zionist feelings come from? Certainly they were there all along, I’ve always felt a connection to Israel and its people and sea and politics since I set foot there back in 2006 on Birthright, but having been through several stages of Zionism, Anti-Zionism, Post Zionism, Confused Zionism, I feel that I’ve run the gamut and can safely say that any reasons I have at this point for returning to the promised land are solely my own—and not motivated by any political ideology.

I simply enjoyed the pace of life there. The sea (how could you not?), the men, the romance, the culture, the food (once in a while), and the way it felt things mattered there and didn’t matter all at the same time. If I wasted an afternoon, so what? Most likely I’d discover some wonderful café, or meet somebody new with an interesting story. Occasionally I’d feel crappy about my lack of productivity, but maybe life’s not all about being productive. Maybe that’s a Western misconception that has yet to entirely permeate the Middle East mentality. Maybe it has, and maybe that’s what scared me back to the US to re-enter the daily grind of 9-5 (8:30-7) and bills and driving and awkward dates with too much beer and too little chemistry or excitement.

Maybe I miss the Dead Sea. Or Jersualem. Or the Golan. The Kibbutz in the Arava, or maybe it’s the small village in the West Bank. But I know that I miss Jaffa, and that Tel Aviv is the best city I’ve ever lived in. I was getting good at Hebrew and I don’t want to stop. I even stopped criticizing the military (somewhat) and started to understand their thinking (again, with a limit). Or maybe I just stopped focusing on the bad things (is that wrong? Perhaps fodder for another post) and began to appreciate the beauty of life and diversity, and even conflict because of the truth it brings to light.

I miss Israel, and I believe my story isn’t finished there. What the next chapter is remains yet to be determined. Until then, I’ll bide my time amongst the palm trees and smog, avoiding the anorexia and celebrities until better days come along.

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