Transitions. I’ve never been much good at them. I have distinct memories of returned essays, marked in dripping red ink with forms of the word in between paragraphs: TR? TRANS? LINK? I’d move from topic to topic with no bridge. Head first I would plow through with no regard for the ideas around me. Breathing room? Who needed it? Let’s get to the good stuff. That’s what I always wanted to do. No introductions necessary, no slow plot progression. I’d dive in head first and hope to swim.
I felt myself living this reality in the first few weeks of arriving in Israel. In the months leading up to it, I wouldn’t give myself time to think about the details. If I did, I would spiral into catastrophe. I’ve never lived away from home, I’ve never been away for so long, I’ve never done laundry for myself, I don’t know anyone else, I… As the anxiety grew, I buried it deeper inside.
The looming future was fuzzy, like when you try on a pair of prescription glasses that turn everything in your line of sight into blurred versions of themselves. The potential distortion would be too much to bear so I busied myself in spending time with friends and family, holding on to the things which took a firm shape in my mind.
Once first semester back home finished, the hardest moments began: the three weeks before I set off for five months. The three weeks of keeping busy for fear of spending too much time with myself. An extended transition- the worst of them all. I’d have moments of passion- I just want to be there already. And I’d have moments of fear- I just want to go back to bed. The transition wasn’t smooth, nor did it clearly lay out what came before it and what was to come, like a well-mapped essay.
Upon arriving in Israel I arranged for there to be no time for transitions. I threw myself in head first into what would be a whirlwind of just over three weeks. I managed to avoid any remote possibility for alone time, from meeting a stranger at the airport, to spending a week in a hotel with 40 new faces, to moving in to my dorm room at Hebrew U. No time for contemplation or self-reflection, because none was necessary.
This is the first time I have had a moment’s rest. Have I managed to successfully dodge the dreaded transition period? Or was this just the smoothest one yet?
I’ve realized that taking time to process becomes more important as calendars fill up and our shoulders are weighed down with responsibilities and schedules. I knew I wasn’t good at confronting others, and I’ve now realized I also have a lot of work to do when it comes to confronting myself. I have to use the moments of transition for good. These in-between times: waiting for the light rail to glide in on the grey skating park reserved for it alone, in between programs and classes, the half hour when the sky turns every colour as the sun sets before Shabbat ends. These are what these moments are here for. I hope I can take advantage of them and continue getting to know myself in a place I call home.