As we were flying back from New York in the dead of winter last week, late February, Simone was the first to notice the sky. “It’s weird how sunny it is here. Like it’s summer outside.” She didn’t need to say more: not like in NY. I was thinking it quietly to myself, too.
I remembered flying in at the same time of year five years earlier, during our one-year-off here, and feeling as if I had flown to another time zone and climate and planet. How could it be -5 in Manhattan with freezing cold wind and 75 in Tel Aviv in the same 12-hour period? What I remember most was feeling as if New York was normal, an adjective I had always loved despite its fallacy, and Israel was not.
While waiting for our luggage at Ben Gurion Airport last Friday, the girls and I began to peel our layers. I changed out of my bear-like, knee-height Ugg boots into sneakers and Daniella tied her sweatshirt around her waist. “It’s too hot! I miss the cold,” she said, making sure her first complaint was heard. Unlike her, I relished the warmth that was seeping into my cells. During our seven-day stay in the States, we had endured temperatures ranging from -5 to 50, and I didn’t like it at all. One night in Manhattan, while walking from our hotel near Central Park to dinner in the theater district, we had to hail a taxi because the wind was so cold it hurt our foreheads.
Throughout the three long years that Philippe and I discussed this move, I recall the one reason we both agreed upon about relocating to Raanana: climate. Neither one of us had ever adapted to the wacky northeast weather, each preferring the mild climate of Strasbourg or the San Francisco Bay Area. We hated snowstorms and shoveling, hurricane-like winds and summer floods.
I understand why those who live in cold weather climates flock to this country in the winter. Temperatures are mild, hovering in the 60s and 70s, and often the sun is out, making it warm enough to walk on the beach and even sit outside at a café.
After five nights of Ambien-induced sleep, I finally slept deeply until morning on Wednesday. When I awakened to thick fog blanketing my neighborhood, I thought I was dreaming. Such an usual sight in Israel. It was cold, fleece weather, and challenging to see beyond a few feet. In the days that followed, the weather was cool, and I basked in the glory of light layers—sweater, long-sleeve shirt, slip-on shoes and sockless ankles—during the day. At night, within the poorly insulated walls of our home, we were still bundled in our flannel pajamas under our duvets but no longer in need of forced heat.
As spring begins to erupt, it’s an ideal time to walk outside or head to the beach. I strive to spend time outdoors every day, to take advantage of the cool air before the intensity of the June, July and August sun descend, making us retreat into our stone houses and tiled floors.
I only spent one wintery week in New York, but, because of the weather, it was enough. Enough to make me long to come back, home, to my bed, to this climate, to Israel. At some point over the past year and a half, I made an unexpected shift. One that I fought against for years, both in my own head and in my marriage. I know now that I am here to stay–at least for now. I recognize the shift. And it’s okay.