Just 12 hours ago I was stomping around my bedroom looking for the charger for my Israel cellphone and wondering where I’d get a replacement battery since it doesn’t seem to be holding a charge. I’d packed my noise cancelling headphones and seat-belt extender, tissues and reading glasses, and thought about what book I’d bring to read on the plane, and counted out my shekels. Here I come, Israel, or so I thought.
Just a few minutes ago I received a voice message in Hebrew that I assumed was from El Al. Rather than that call being a reminder about my flight, a few minutes later a call in English explained that my flight was canceled. “Would you be interested in flying today,” she wants to know, in a few hours, from an airport far from home? “No,” I told her, “I couldn’t get to JFK in time. It’s best that I cancel the entire 4-day trip.” Yes, 4 days.
As the thought of cancellation sank in, I sagged in my desk chair. Why? I have been to Israel 5 times in the past year including a summer trip to celebrate our oldest grandchild’s bat mitzvah and a week in November to celebrate Thanksgiving American-style with my son and his family. I communicate with my grandchildren in Jerusalem via FaceTime, and by telephone several times a week. And I’m in regular email contact with others.
I’m an adult, and stuff happens. So, why the funk?
I guess I’ll never forget the first time a cab driver wished me a Shabbat shalom after he just overcharged me on the fare, or watched as an Egged bus moved up King George Street with a destination sign that said chag Purim sameach, or the Chanukah decorations hanging from every light pole, and the sight of hundreds of Chanukah menorahs proclaiming a miracle that took place more than 2,000 years ago being displayed outside for all to see.
A lot of firsts, yes, but I’m still excited when a cabbie says Shabbat shalom or a kippah-clad bus driver takes my 10 shekel coin for the fare and puts those useless agorot in my hand as I reach for the ticket with the other and struggle to keep my balance as the bus starts moving.
Maybe it’s those sights, feelings and memories that I miss so much. Or maybe I have come to realize, as others now will, that Israel is our home no matter where we may temporarily reside.
I guess I miss being home.