1 – The Return

This journal, like the summer’s version, is a combination of my observations and touring, emotional journey, personal growth/insights, politics, and faith. I hope it’s a smorgasbord for you and invite you to come along for what’s meaningful or interesting. I welcome your thoughts in response, of course.

The Return 11/22/14

As promised, this first blog is to let you know I arrived safely in Jerusalem and am in the process of working out logistics for my extended stay. English, rapidly expanding Hebrew, and a useless smattering of Spanish and German from studies decades ago, leave me without adequate words of thanks to those of you who helped with this process – your encouragement and wonderful assistance with my departure for this grand adventure. My temporary digs are familiar from this summer’s visit, and though tiny, are sufficient for the anticipated 3-week stay while I search for a small apartment with a 1-year lease. Getting settled through Israel’s bureaucracy and the language is a challenge but the locals are happily helpful and I’m learning how to present the questions, a starting place. Stepping outside of my own self as often as possible, I see persistence undergirded by faith in God.

I left Denver on the morning of Nov 18th for a 3 day stay in NYC – my first return since leaving there in 2005. After Colorado’s frigid, burning cold of -12’ the days before I left, I wanted to tell the New Yorkers they were overdressed for the “cold” (in the 30s), which felt like a heat wave to me. If you’ve spent any time there, you’ve already figured out that I didn’t even try to tell New Yorkers what to do.

I wandered the streets looking like a tourist with a big grin on my face and gazing at the buildings that bring back bittersweet and wonderful memories from my years of living there. Macy’s, Central Park, Columbus Circle, riding the Staten Island Ferry, and walking Battery Park to pay my respects to Lady Liberty who meant so much to me during my difficult times there… all like visits to dear old friends.

One morning, I left my mid-town hotel at 5:30 to walk the long blocks to the East River at 34th Street, to watch the sunrise. During the years I lived in lower Manhattan, I’d meant to watch the sunrise and sunset on the same day – a feat that should have been simple for someone who lived on that narrow island for as long as I did! The idea actually developed in the ‘70s when a group of us took the train weekly from Fullerton to San Clemente for much of my 15th summer. We talked about coordinating a car pool with the few drivers among us with access to vehicles for the entire day – to stay for the sunset, and then the idea was raised to come early enough to see the sunrise as well. We never got that plan actualized, and it was years later when it dawned on me how foolish we’d have felt had we put all the effort into arriving at the beach before sunrise only to have it “dawn” on us that (DUH!) it wouldn’t be rising over the western water horizon but rather over the dog-days of L.A. basin smog.

As it turns out, last week’s short NYC visit still did not include same-day sunrise/sunset. I’d planned to watch the sun set behind Lady Liberty from lower Manhattan, but opted to spend the time visiting with a new friend I’d met online – Jessica, a talented young writer who lived briefly in Israel and made the trip into the City from New Jersey to meet me for coffee in Macy’s basement. Our first meeting/ coffee date could have been a disappointing 15 minute nice-to-meet-you encounter, but instead became a new friendship/ 3 ½ -hour introductory visit, and far more important than seeing the sunset.

Several time changes for Tuesday’s flight to Israel culminated in 8+ hour delay because of an El Al wildcat pilot strike, and I arrived Wednesday 3:00pm (Israel is 10 hours ahead of California). After the document processing at the airport for the 59 of us new Israeli citizens, the taxi brought a grateful me to a SHOWER and BED in my temporary digs by 8:00pm.

Over the years, I’ve grown nearly accustomed to my personal style of “buyer’s remorse” – conflicting emotions that follow big decisions, moves, etc – and this first week has brought a few mildly discomfiting emotions. It’s nice to be at a point of life that I recognize the pattern, that waves of delight and joy at being here for this amazing journey are a bit soggy at times with doubt and questions. I’m sleeping well, and yet surely the timezone is a contributing factor to the oh-so familiar wondering about my wanderings. Still this process is a dream come true and I look forward to getting settled and getting busy with language learning and the projects that have captured my heart.

This first Shabbat, I was touched by the hospitality of my friend Keren for a lovely and perfect Friday evening dinner in her amazing new apartment. I will be pondering valuable insights about the patriarchs Isaac and Jacob all week, thanks to this morning’s teaching at the Conservative Synagogue by Rabbi Adam Frank, followed by an invitation to a luncheon of Hungarian soup in the home of new friends Dolly and Larry. We strolled past the Belgium Embassy and Prime Minister’s official residence on the way.

It’s rainy, but my days must be about logistics – bank account, cellular phone, healthcare insurance, bus discount card… and then locating a residence in one of the surrounding neighborhoods. Perhaps next week’s journal will include a new address.

Nov 25 update: logistics are set and the new phone is 053-522-6145. That means texting to my old phone is no longer an option and I suggest that you check with your carrier about texting to an international number – besides most of you probably have learned I prefer email to texting. Skype and email addresses are unchanged and shouldn’t trigger expenses for you. Today begins focused apartment searching.

I am ever grateful for your friendship and love