Nov 27 – Dec 2, 2014
The first 6 apartments I looked at were each a different version of “I could live here, but…”
Do I, will I miss my lovely condo in Denver? Of course, but time and again as I release the good I’ve received I’ve found my hands and my life blessed with people, experiences, insights I could never have received had I not let go. I’m comforted knowing God fills open hands and hearts that are eager to learn and give.
Apartment #7 viewing was not more of the same. The 50+ square meters (something like 550 sq ft) had everything I was hoping to find, at a reasonable price. The recently remodeled unit on a quiet street of one of the best central Jerusalem neighborhoods (translated for me: “safe”) may become my new address. I probably can’t move in until around December 15th, and then I’m left with a bit of a challenge since my shipment from the U.S. (my good Simmons mattress J, a few furniture pieces, most of my art, and dramatically reduced wardrobe – who needs professional clothing if no longer going into the office every day?!) is scheduled to arrive 2 weeks later. IF these lease contract negotiations can be finalized, I’ll hope to borrow a temporary mattress and chair to use until mine arrive. Unfurnished here means “sans kitchen appliances.” I’ll probably buy the stove/oven of the current tenants, and will need to shop for a few comfy livingroom chairs or loveseat as well as a refrigerator and washer and dryer in order to set up camp. I’m hoping this apartment will be a new home, but if we can’t agree on terms, I’ll begin the search again.
Language learning: at this point, I read Hebrew like a 1st grade child – sounding out words slowly. Painfully. The disadvantage I have over a child learning to read is that many of the words I’m able to sound-out are not yet in my Hebrew vocabulary, whereas by the time children are learning to read, they have extensive mastery of the language. It’s a thrill to sound out words on a sign, and piece enough of the message together to actually understand it. Whooohooooo!!! I try to restrain myself from doing a little jig in public, but can’t stifle the proud GRIN.
Signing countless forms and documents without reading: if you’ve bought a house you’ve had the experience. Most of us sign many documents without reading every word, or even every paragraph, but it feels different if you can’t even glance-read to find the signature line, much less digest the document’s crucial concepts. I’m grateful to the Israeli friends who willingly read, and caught the irregularities in my potential lease agreement.
I occasionally travel by bus or light rail, but most always walk long miles. It’s the best way to learn the area and have more encounters with locals. How are the streets here? Do they feel safe or dangerous? Are my travels in Jerusalem restricted by danger zones, or are there parts of the city I avoid? Yes.
While there are areas throughout the nation where Jewish and Arab Israeli’s work well together, if you follow the real news http://www.i24news.tv/en/ the East side of Jerusalem is the area that tends to generate recent terrorism, and those attacks have occurred in unpredictable Jerusalem neighborhoods. I’ve stayed away from visiting the Kotel (Western Wall) and haven’t yet visited the Old City during this trip except to quickly snag a couple of the great city maps provided by the Jaffa Gate Visitor Center. Will I go to East Jerusalem? Not without good cause.
Am I afraid? A tiny bit for a tiny second, but no more than I would be living life anywhere. I’m certainly more actively aware of my surroundings, but distractions distract so easily. We all know glancing at the phone while driving could be disastrous, and really when walking as well. Liken me to trying to be an “alert, focused driver” 100% of the time while walking the streets of Jerusalem, and you’ll realize that often I let my guard down with inattentiveness. Because of last month’s car-terrorism at pedestrians, I do find myself waiting further from the street at intersections and paying more attention to the vehicles whizzing by.
What about the current conflict? Please check out the links above – educate yourself about the rising anti-Semitism elsewhere. Israel faces unique challenges in multiple arenas: political, oil, nuclear capacity, as well as economic persecution. Jerusalemites live their normal lives modified, e.g. more parents escort kids to school buses. People talk about the dangers, politics, etc while going about their days. To me, the emotions on the street feel more intense than this summer when the rockets were flying, but perhaps my sensor is confounded by my personal transition. I embrace conversations with Israelis about these subjects, but try to be sensitive in approaching the issue.
I attended a lecture that was about politics rather than what I had hoped would be the subject, and while not agreeing with the speaker’s perspective, I realized for the first time that I’ve learned to think while sitting under or beside a lifetime of both gifted and not-so-gifted teachers, bosses, friends, relatives, and one-time encounters. I’ve learned to hear and most often “feel” their words, process it through the grid of what I KNOW or believe to be true, changed my misconceptions to new information or insights, not accept instruction or insights, and so forth. Do you know how you learned to think? To really think?