“How is it that I can love a place so much and yet be so scared to be here?” This is the question I asked my husband as I was getting ready for bed last night. My husband, the native Israeli, just smiled sadly and kept reading his book. Actually, he may not have been listening to me at all. He may have learned these last few weeks that smiling sadly is how to quiet his anxious American wife. I had my own answer by the time I was done flossing. “I guess that is what it means to be Israeli.”
In August we began our big adventure. My husband, our three daughters, and I packed up our house in the U.S., put all its contents in storage, and moved to Israel for a year. Maybe 2. Maybe more. In some ways it feels like we have been here for 6 months: we have formed wonderful friendships that have blossomed and no longer feel new. Our kids have gotten used to school, have started understanding some Hebrew, and have picked up a few new friends along the way. We have been enjoying our weekends—as short as they are here—and living life to the fullest, as Israelis do.
Because there is no choice here.
Because you need to enjoy every day like you don’t know what the next day will bring.
Because there are people around us who want to wipe this whole country off the map, but we cannot let it get in our way of living life to the fullest.
After all, that is why we came.
This week, when two separate attacks in our town happened, it shook me to the core. I was ready to go home, pack my bags, grab the kids from school and head back to Boston on the first flight. I was ready to call the kids’ old school and say “We are back. Just squeeze us in.” I was ready to just pack up this home we have made for ourselves and call it quits.
But it isn’t that easy. We have fallen head-over-heels in love with this country. The beach. The people. The relaxed way of life—despite the ever-looming shadow of terrorism. We have made friends. Friends whom we adore, whom we see almost daily. Whom we could not imagine leaving. Not yet.
And, we just adopted a new puppy. An Israeli puppy. We had been counting the days, preparing his bed, buying his toys, craving his cuddles since we first set eyes on him a few weeks ago. He is the reason my kids kept smiling all week–despite the news and the tense and somber mood of every adult around them.
And then the voice enters my head. The voice that insisted I pack my bags and the very same voice that hesitated with this move months and months ago. The voice that asks over and over: “Are my children safe? Are they going to be okay emotionally and physically?” “Will this pass, as every Israeli promises?”
Today it feels hopeless. It feels like we are all stuck. It feels safest to stay in my living room and sit on the couch texting my family and friends from down the street or across the world.
That is not how Israelis live, though.
“We must remember the good people, too. Don’t let the one event overshadow them.” “We overcame Pharoah, we can overcome this.” “Eh, tomorrow is a new day. Let’s hope it is better.”
Israelis are incredible. That over-used mantra “Keep Calm, Carry on” should belong to this country. Israelis carry on. They power through. They do it together. They help each other out.
Tomorrow is a new day. Israelis will get up and start the day as they do each morning: a little more vigilant, possibly a little less trusting, and a lot more tied to this country that we all call home. I suppose I am an Israeli now. I am going to give all of this a try tomorrow, too. For me and for my children. Wish me luck.