What a month.
I started this month still on the high of my December trip to the states. In two weeks I was in Tel Aviv, Amsterdam, Texas, San Francisco, more Texas, DC, Philadelphia, New York, Moscow, and back home to Tel Aviv. I ate on Thanksgiving until my sister and I had to lie on the floor, rode a train with my baby brother on his 3rd birthday, had locally brewed beer and organic pizza in Berkeley, enjoyed a mini high school reunion in DC, and visited Philadelphia for the first time. I was completely filled (as I so often am these days) with love and gratitude for my family and friends. My friends have noted that my happiness is bordering on grotesque and obscene. Some tell me that no one should be this happy, but I like to argue that perhaps everyone should.
This trip and these memories – still so fresh in my mind – remind me to love.
On January 5th, a day that used to hold significance for me as the 12th day of Christmas, I went for a late-night stroll and tripped. As I fell, scraping my hands, knees, and hip, I also hit my face on a slab of concrete and broke my nose in multiple places. Before I even had a chance to start crying, three young Israelis scooped me up and practically set up a triage center. As I sobbed on the sidewalk, a kind man my age held my bloody face in his hands and whispered for me to breathe calmly. One girl bought me water and tissues and cleaned me up in-between my crying, and another girl located all the belongings from my purse and used my cell phone to call a friend I directed her to. Five minutes later my friend showed up and took me to the ER where my nose was x-rayed, re-set, and in less than an hour I was sent home with a black and blue face and an ice pack. The heroes from the street called for regular updates on my progress. As I spent this month healing, friends have visited and brought me food, endless Israeli strangers have asked me “what happened to your face?!”, and I have pondered what my endless injuries might mean on some deeper level.
In these moments of pain, healing, and dependency on others, I am reminded of humanity and compassion.
This month I started a new Hebrew class. If I thought my Hebrew was bad before, it’s somehow gotten worse. Just today I was asked to describe how to make tea. Sounds easy, right? First I told my teacher “I do hot water,” and then I said “I put water on fire,” and finally “can you please put me in an easier class?” She said no, refused to give up on me, and we laughed until we nearly cried. I’m not sure if all my tears are from humor these days, but I’m not giving up either. I’ve also started studying with a tutor – who is amazing – and who is making it his personal mission in life to make sure I don’t embarrass myself (as much).
In continuing my struggle to learn Hebrew, I experience humility and growth.
January was also a month of travel. I put a new country on my list, Jordan, even though I didn’t particularly like the city of Amman. All the same, I had a great trip with my friend, and learned that I prefer cities with actually lanes in the roads and restaurants that serve alcohol. I also took a day trip to Jerusalem, full of humorous shopping, and a visit to the Western Wall. After writing my prayer and putting the folded paper in the Wall I sat and prayed – first in English, then in Hebrew, and finally in sign language - just to make sure the message got across. I prayed for healing, for my family and friends, and then, as always, I prayed a prayer of thankfulness for this life.
With tears in my eyes, on a sunny afternoon in Jerusalem, I felt gratitude.
This month also marked over a month since I officially applied for aliyah – to be an Israeli citizen – and seven months since I moved to Israel. I’ve received no news on my citizenship saga despite my endless calls, and I give a great deal of consideration to selling my belongings in preparation of my feared deportation. But I am still here, and my friends give me determination when I am lacking. Two of my friends offered to take my case public, to call news channels and write articles in order to raise the deeper questions of my conversion and religion, my potential contributions, and my desire to be in Israel. Another friend connected me to the most helpful contacts I’ve spoken to in the last seven months, two experts with experience in cases like mine, and now a lawyer is consulting on my case.
In these moments of support, I feel new hope.
This month has been full of all sorts of other shenanigans, too. I resolved to go to the beach more, and I went nearly every day. I read three books so far and may finish a fourth. I knit a really ugly hat with my first ever pom-pom on top; I like to wear it when I’m alone in my apartment. I made new friends, and I said goodbye to those who returned home. My dad bought a ticket to come visit me in March, and my baby brother in Texas asked me “lama lo?” (why not?, in Hebrew) during a skype chat. My big brother turned 29. I did my taxes. Also, I think I perfected my Spanish rice recipe, and you are all invited to come over and try it.
January has been a reminder of everything life should be – love, pain, humanity, adventure, disappointment, hope, creativity, humility, and gratitude. I’m not sure what February will bring, but I’m looking forward to whatever comes.