Today*, when I went outside, the sun was shining, and the weather was perfect. It was slightly chilly; not too hot, not too cold. For me, slightly chilly is perfect, because I tend to walk fast, and then I get sweaty. For a few minutes, it felt as if I had stepped into a story, one of those, ‘This was a land of hope and green after the Holocaust, where the sun shone and the sky was clear,’ post-Holocaust, stories.
Why? I thought to myself. It’s true, it’s a beautiful day. It’s true, this is my favorite kind of day, when it’s sunny, but still chilly, and it’s beautiful and green. But why does it feel like a story?
Besides, if it is like a story, how would I know that and recognize it?
* * * * * *
When I was twelve years old, I came to Israel for my cousin’s wedding, which doubled as a bat mitzva trip for me. My birthday, and my cousin’s wedding, were in March/April, so I got to miss school for about two weeks.
In those days, I didn’t know about the maddening things the government did, I didn’t think too much about terror attacks, and I didn’t worry about the water shortage or if we were getting enough rainfall. Sure, I knew that Israelis had to be careful to save water. They would rinse the dishes, soap them, and then rinse the soap off, being careful to turn off the water between each step. They would also take shorter showers, and turn off the water when they were soaping. But I didn’t fully understand, and I didn’t worry.
* * * * * *
Maybe I did fully understand, but I didn’t care.
* * * * * *
I came on this trip to Israel with my mother and 1.5 year old sister. 1.5. Wow. Shlomo’s only a little older than that now. Kind of makes me feel like deja-vu, if you know what I mean, except it’s my child that I’m pushing in the stroller, not my mother’s.
We went to restaurants, she paid with travelers’ cheques. To this day, I can hear her saying “travelers’ cheques” in English, with the rest of the sentence in Hebrew, while she asked each establishment if they accepted them. I was so embarrassed that she was speaking Hebrew except for one phrase. It sounded so dumb.
It’s true, I’d left my pesky (sorry, Esther, but that is how I felt then, and how you felt, too) little sister at home, but I didn’t really feel that I had my mother to myself, unless she happened to be telling me how to act or dress or talk. I didn’t mind that my baby sister came along – her, I liked. I did mind that my mother didn’t really seem interested in spending time with me, unless it was walking around shopping, or doing touristy things that she wanted to do. Except, that is, for my cousin’s wedding. She wasn’t really paying attention to me then, either, but the wedding itself was nice enough to make up for that.
I walked around, I did some dumb things, I did some embarrassing things, but I loved the country. When I went back to school, I had picked up, in the two weeks that I spent in Israel, a little bit of an accent. I worked hard to keep it when I noticed that it was going away; I was proud of that little bit of an Israeli accent.
* * * * * *
I can’t say that I was successful in keeping my bit of an accent, but it certainly might have helped me to develop a better accent later on, when I moved here.
When we arrived back home at the end of the trip, I announced to my parents, “When I grow up, I’m going to make aliya (move to Israel).” They replied (truthfully, my mother replied): “We’ll see what happens when the time comes.”
The time came, and I made aliya.
But it is walking, carefree, in a beautiful day like this one, with a chill in the air, green grass, gray trees, and the sun shining, that made me feel that today was a story-like day.
* I’ve never used italics for thoughts/daydreams before, so please forgive any mistakes (and correct them).