Journey to Me

On my way to Israel, I learned and slept through the night flight, not willing to distract myself with electronic enticements. I attempted to fall asleep repeatedly while scores of fellow passengers wrestled the cellophane off their frozen and reheated meals. My pilgrimage home carried my expectations, as well as those of everyone who knows and loves me. To come home after too many years requires a certain bravery.

The only question on people’s mind seemed to be, “How does it feel to be back?” The question would hang heavily in the air. Isn’t it normal to be home, to feel at home and to know no matter how much time elapses that your place is secure.

Attending a friend’s simcha felt as it should as a time to reflect on the nachat each of us have in each other’s lives and accomplishments. Shabbat and time in yerushalayim with family felt warm and filled with love. The Kotel plaza, packed with chayalim embracing their accomplishment under our flag set the stage for prayer and contemplation. The smell of the land and incense mixed together with melodic, quiet tunes elevated the yoga in Bat Ayin.

And now, as I sit in silence on the flight to London, the voices of my stay float to the top of my consciousness. The trip was more about conversations with others and myself than anything else. Exploring possibilities of returning to the land permanently, laughter with my nieces, deep discussions in cars as my friends and relatives transported me to my next stop. And the voices in my head. Being away from my family allowed me time to think.

As the trip quickly wound down, I tried to live in the moment. The pull of everyone who wanted to talk was pushed aside in part because I did not have a way to be in touch except when face to face.

With tears, I passed the tzetchem lishalom sign. Although everyone said that I should come again and not wait so long this time, I have no idea where life will take me.

We all come to a point where we need to accept the choices in our past, make new decisions if they are necessary and recognize when a path must be taken in spite of reservation or when there is simply no choice.
Traveling British Airways snapped me out of Israel immediately. The pompous music played as the blond haired flight crew welcomed us aboard. After I davened and learned and tried to sleep, I flipped through the movie choices and immediately decided to watch The Rewrite which takes place in my hometown of Binghamton, New York. I caught myself laughing out loud as Hugh Grant describes the city’s outstanding characteristics. Growing up in the Carousel Capital of America and having attended Rod Serling’s high school, I thought I could explore home a bit as I traveled. “The absolute end of civilization,” is my childhood even though I have never eaten a speedy, even at the Balloon Rally and Speedy Festival.

The movie was right up my alley but I found the title ironic. The entire movie is about moving forward, not rewriting. As we jetted mile by mile through the never ending sky, I realized that The Rewrite is about rewriting expectations for the future not the past. About acceptance of past choices but the ability to re-script the journey ahead.

My vacation, as it were, allowed me to recharge and just be me, someone who had been lost for a while. I worked hard in the months leading up to this unexpected trip thinking about who I am outside of the rolls I play as a wife, mom and teacher, positions that I cherish and to which I have dedicated my life.

I set out on a spiritual journey and found that holiness is a state of being. There is no reason for regret in a life well lived. There is no shame in rewriting expectations. I believe I will be back in Israel and it will not take 16 years this time. But it matters a bit less now. Both the journey to Israel and the subsequent return to America are journeys home. In this there is both paradox and comfort because in this is me.

About the Author
I am a mom, teacher (is that redundant?) and wife trying to serve Hashem in Galut. The rest is just commentary