I am struggling here in this crazy, wonderful, beautiful, horrible, infuriating, aggravating, inspiring, demanding, unforgiving, obstinate, beloved, proud and holy land.
In the last year I have felt like a passenger on a rollercoaster. Up and down and up and down, rounding a bend and then slow climb up again- and everyone knows that I do not like rollercoasters.
We moved here in part by happenstance. The circumstances were right, we were enjoying our new adventure, our children were here. It all made sense. We love Israel. We are committed to its survival and to the protection of the all the peoples who live here. We are secular Zionists who see that there is space for multiculturalism, religious diversity - the whole shebang. And I am totally, 100% happy being a Jew. No apologies being offered. I like the whole damn thing.
But I am struggling living here. The politics are crazy but really not any more crazy than the United States or Europe. The bureaucracy is maddening, but no worse than Italy or France - maybe a little worse. The security situation seems more stable than the pro NRA states. And of course, the social underclass is very real - something not unknown to us in every place we have lived.
Most people move about when they are young or when they are pursuing their studies. Lots of people retire, but they seem to retire in herds - to communities that are pre-built to suit their needs. Most people do not pick up and leave a whole life behind with little rooting them in the new place.
This country is harsh. The water is full of sand. The subsurface in buildings is sand. The building blocks are limestone (sand). Our clothes will never again be soft. All that is fine. Even the dollhouse size oven is usually fine (except when we are having a party). What isn't fine, is finding a comfortable niche - a group of friends - someone to laugh with who remembers Frank Zappa and has not magically turned spiritual (OK - lost some possible friendships with that comment).
We are a tad lonely. We love our sons and we will love our grandchildren when they arrive, but we do not want to hang out in that crowd. We are Olim but we are never going to be Israelis. The backgrounds are too different. There is no cultural equivalence. The references are lost on each other. We are two intellectuals in search of conversation. And we are frustrated because we cannot speak well Hebrew well enough to even begin to express our true personalities.
Last week we had a long talk about what it means to be here and how it affects our sense of self. After months of obsessing on this I was surprised to hear that Ken felt the same way. We will learn Hebrew to the best of our abilities. It is not a race. We are lucky enough to not need to work here. We can explore. If it takes time, then so be it.
So today I demoted myself. I left Dalet class (level below university entrance) because it was just too damn hard and besides, I do not see myself getting another degree. I re-enrolled in Gimel and I will probably be a bit bored but I need to practice everyday and I need to see people. I need a lot of review and I am finally accepting that this is okay. Maybe I'll trip on someone who thinks Zappa was great and that The Band was way too underrated.
I can feel myself letting go of the struggle to keep up. I will go forward at my own pace. Thinking of starting a cooking group (like a book group). Meet on a regular basis, cook, eat, laugh and learn how to communicate intelligently with the butcher.