We are here for three weeks now. They have been very eventful. We have found a new place to live, Sadie has started a public kindergarten (more on that later), Logan is in Yeshiva part-time and I am looking for a nanny three hours a day/5 days a week to watch Aaron so I can work on my writing. We have built a home here. Despite all of these great accomplishments I am feeling terribly homesick. I miss my family and I miss my friends from back home. It's hard starting over in a new land.
I also really miss being able to communicate fully with people around me. The language barrier is starting to get to me. I feel vulnerable. I feel easily taken advantage of by shopkeepers who know I am an American. I feel like a chump. Yesterday at the shuk I wanted to buy a cart to wheel my groceries around. The owner wanted a 150 shekels. I handed him a 120 and asked him if that was enough. It was my quiet way of bargaining. I hoped the sight of money would have him drop the price. No such luck. He was offended waving his arms at me and shaking his head while saying "no." I reached into my purse and handed him the 150 and walked away shaking, upset. I didn't feel the cart was worth his asking price but I was too embarrassed to walk away from the situation. I spent the rest of the time at the shuk mentally shaken by the experience.
I am not used to bargaining. I pay the asking price and move on. But here, when nothing has a price on it, it makes sense to try to lower the price.
This morning when I was at the park with Aaron the sounds of sirens filled the air. At first I thought it was particularly loud city noise when I noticed the sirens were loud and filling the space around me. I began to panic imagining a rocket in the air propelling towards our park. I looked around and no one else looked concerned. Moments later my phone was ringing, it was Logan. It was an emergency siren test, he had received a text message in Hebrew warning him. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I did not receive the terrifying text Logan got minutes earlier that was all in Hebrew except for the part in English: Emergency Alerts - Imminent Extreme Alert.
Israel is an intense place to live. I realize more people die per day in car accidents than in rocket accidents but I'm still afraid. I have developed a fear of living here. This place feels raw and real, very unlike uneventful San Diego. I am starting to miss the feel of my land, the trees, the fresh breeze blowing in from the ocean. Here most trees are cut into disastrous shapes, the landscaping is bare. I miss the false feeling of safety that does not exist in Israel. I miss American innocence. I wish Israel was safe enough to find its innocence. Kids here live in a world where they need to have gas masks in school, learn about ways to protect themselves during rocket attacks. Kids lose their innocence here quickly.
Both of my parents are immigrants from Ukraine. Yesterday was my father's 35th anniversary leaving the former Soviet Union. I always respected my parents' experience but I never understood what it was like to leave your culture and your land behind and try to make it somewhere else. It's a hellish experience. And I am saying this with money in the bank and the comfort of knowing I can go home whenever I wish. My parents came to Chicago separately at 19 with their parents. They had to finish their important years of development in a country completely alien to their own. Russian and American culture are polar opposites of one another. They needed to get a solid understanding of the language and cultural nuances to make new opportunities and to survive.
I am hopeful this is just a phase. I am betting on settling into the land and the culture and learning the language and finding a happy medium in all this chaos. But even if I do, I miss my family. I spoke to a mother of four at a park today. She has been living in Israel for seven years. She said at first she missed the shopping and ease of America. But now, seven years later, all she misses is her family. The older I get the more I realize the importance of family.
Meet the Blogger!
I'm a mom. A writer. A lover of good fantasy. A proponent of nursing when possible. A birth advocate. I am absolutely horrible at keeping my house clean or the dishes washed or the laundry done. I strongly believe in women having a positive birth. When we start to respect women's rights to birth the way they want, we can start to treat women as equal people in this world.
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