Last Monday, I got an email invitation for a Wednesday night party. Two couples wrote:
Its five years to the day, this Wednesday, since we made Aliyah with our families.
We’d love to raise our glasses and toast this milestone with our friends who have helped us so much along the way.
Please let us know if you can join us.
As I wrote two weeks earlier, everything is cause for celebration in this country. It is one of the many aspects of life here that appeals to me. In a land where war can erupt overnight and terrorism is an everyday word, people party. They make merry over the big and small.
But when I got the invitation it made me stop and reflect. We met these particular friends five years ago when we, too, had arrived—for one year, our year of living differently as I had so aptly called it. In the end, it turned out to be the year that changed everything: when our Israeli-born son discovered the meaning of coming home and when my French husband realized he could no longer live in America. It was the year we reached a major compromise: Philippe and I agreed that at the end of our experience we would return to New York for three years, for the kids to each reach their major milestones, and then once again pack up and turn back around, permanently.
And I am sure everyone can recall: I didn’t want to come.
It is now mid-July, and we have spent almost a full year in our new Israeli home. In that short time, I have found a friend to go to the movies with on Saturday mornings, opened up my own yoga studio and joined a writing group. I have joined an English-language networking group, started a weekly yoga teachers’ practice and taught a memoir writing course. I have rekindled old friendships and made new ones.
Friends who knew me and my struggle with the move call and email, asking the same question, “Are you happy?” Happy isn’t the answer, I say. Rather, I am calm inside; I don’t second guess myself or blame Philippe. I have chosen instead to be content, to accept my life as it is.
Bolstered by everybody’s words of support over the past few years, I have come to this extraordinary country with my eyes wide open, determined to see the bad as well as the good. And as I initially wrote in my first blog post, I packed everything I knew I needed to bring—wrap sunglasses, SPF 60+ sunscreen, a Nook—along with the things I’d never brought to Israel before: a sense of humor and an open heart.
Being back in Israel’s party culture 23 years after we first met reminded me that Philippe and I used to love to throw parties when we lived in Haifa as young newlyweds. So since it’s summer and our girls aren’t around, since we’re closing in on a year here in addition to our birthdays, we decided to host a party before I leave on Thursday. A lot of our friends have already taken off for the remainder of the summer, but we are moving ahead with a belated Bastille Day fête on Tuesday night. If you can come, please dress up in bleu, blanc, rouge and be ready to gorge yourselves on savory and sweet crepes and waffles, baguette, cheese and wine.
Bon voyage if you’re going somewhere. Next time I write will be September 2. Enjoy!
Faire la fête = to party, to have a party
Aliya = immigration to Israel
bleu, blanc, rouge = blue, white, red