NOTE: I wrote this post back in August after a trip to the US and then decided not to publish it because I was afraid it would offend either Americans or Israelis. Today I was doing some house-keeping on the inside of my website, read this and thought “It’s good! Why not?” So, I hope it doesn’t offend any of you!
In completely unrelated news, I made a Daily Nutrition Checklist yesterday as a free downloadable gift for my readers. You can download it HERE. In my practice, I believe a lot more in what TO eat rather that what NOT to eat. You can actually “crowd out” the bad by increasing the good stuff. You feel fuller, more nourished, less crave-y. Good stuff. Enjoy the checklist!
On August 28th, 2011, my family and I celebrated our 4th anniversary of aliyah (immigration to Israel). On a hot August 27th, in the year 2007, we got on a plane at JFK, with one-way tickets to Tel Aviv, not having any idea what our new lives would be like, but hoping for the best.
For our 1st two years here, I made the conscious decision to not leave the country at all. I somehow felt that going back too soon would be too confusing. Turns out, I was right. I have been back to North America a few times since then and each trip throws me for a total loop.
The first few days in the US are spent in shocked disbelief, accompanied by open-mouthed drooling and rapid expenditure of cash. America is Abundant beyond belief. There is so much space, so much to buy, giant stores stocked from floor to soaring ceiling with a dizzying array of products. Every book I have desired is waiting (in English) on the shelves of Barnes and Noble. Every hard-to-find food, supplement, shampoo, and shiny trinket is there at the tip of my fingers. There are no subtitles. No labels covering up the English. Nobody really looks at anyone else, much less interferes in their lives, comments on their driving, or criticizes the amount of clothing they have dressed their baby in or where their dog is taking a leak.
I took a BATH, for Pete’s sake and I didn’t have to save the bathwater to flush the toilet or do the laundry. And speaking of laundry: let’s just say large capacity washing machine, clothes dryer, fluffy clothes, fabric softener sheets…
We went to the public pool and my kids were dumbstruck that there was no pushing or cutting in the line for the water slides. People stand apart, as if they are in an invisible bubble of private space. I watched as the boys’ bodies relaxed. For the first time in 4 years they didn’t have to compete, jockey for, or defend their position.
Life in America is Easy Street. I know it might not feel like it to some of you who live there, but darlings, you have NO IDEA until you live somewhere else.
And then, it’s time to come back. Still in the airport, as we approach the gate, we can spot our countrymen a mile away. They are the one group not lining up to board the plane, but rushing upon it in a surging mass of frenetic energy. We shake our heads, laugh, and plunge into the fray, elbows out. Somehow I manage to feel simultaneously depressed and excited.
I lived in the Land of American abundance, politeness, and order, for 41 years and never really felt like it was my home. This is not something I can easily explain. I believe it is some genetic attachment / cellular memory / tribal consciousness – that binds me to Israel in a flagrant defiance of logic. This is the dusty air my lungs were designed to breath. This is the sandy earth my feet long to walk. This is the melting sun my skin seems to crave. These are the pushy people I was meant to elbow?
Still, after 4 years here, I am very much a foreigner. I only have enough Hebrew to get by, not enough to converse fluently or work in my profession. I never really understand what is going on at any given time. I can’t read the newspaper or the phone bill. When meeting a new person, I am seized by the panic of not knowing which cheek we will lean in to kiss first, often crashing into an awkward nose collision.
I know I am Home. Sweaty, dusty, crowded, pushy, annoying, confusing, home.
I know that the next few weeks will be a ping-pong of roller-coastering emotions as I re-adjust to life in Israel, the kids going back to school, and the approaching Jewish holiday season. Bear with me.
And in case you are wondering what any of this has to do with Nutrition… your relationship to where you live is Primary Food, Baby. Do you love your geographic location? Do you feel truly at home there? Does your heart long for somewhere else? The country life? The city life? A foreign land? The land your ancestors came from? Sometimes we have to live somewhere less than ideal for a job or school or family ties.
Sometimes it is time to to have the courage move on.