Ever since I've booked our trip to Israel last week, I was thinking about what it exactly means when my heart is in two worlds. In June 2011, it will almost be 4 years since we've seen our families. Part of the reason why we've stayed away so long had to do with money, but a big part has to with professionally thriving in an environment, which is why we've opted to live in the States.
With that sacrifice though, comes a lot of loss. Loss of not feeling connected to the people or environment, and even with the simple things like walking along a river. (see below)
As a bilingual speaker and one who has lived in Israel for almost 18 years, I continue to straddle two countries, two languages, two histories, two mentalities and two cultures.
If you had asked me in 2007, 2008 or 2009 about my struggle, I would have told you that I was "homesick" for Israel, particularly for reexperiencing certain things that have brought me closer to home. For all you bilingual speakers out there, who feel like me, realize that the "homesick" part emerges when you are struggling to find home. And as the well-known quote goes: "Home is where they understand you."
Pittsburgh, for us, doesn't mimick the Israeli landscape and lifestyle which is why it was so difficult to find "home" in the very beginning.
In the very beginning, I tried to "hit" home by listening to Israeli songs, reading Israeli newspapers, speaking Hebrew whenever I got a chance. But now, it's become a committment for us to speak Hebrew ALL the time with my son. Then I don't feel so "buffetted" by the wind of "homesickness." I guess that means in socio terms, I'm not so much an "immigrant" anymore.
Natalie Portman, 2011 academy award winner has said in interviews that when she is in Israel, she feels "American" and when she is in the States, she feels "Israeli" - I think that would apply to me now, but if you had asked me in 2007, I would say it the other way around.
It's obvious, there is a world outside my window that is "bathed" in English, affected by US temperature, erratic snow and rainfalls, 5 day workweeks, and lonely and busy professional lifes.
But yet, I am always comforted whenI think of...
The Ami Promenade alongside the Jordan River
My love for this place started in the year 2000. I had just broken up with a long-term boyfriend and moved from Kibbutz Ein-Gev to Kibbutz Naot Mordechay. (The Naot "Teva" shoes are made at this factory.) To help me deal with my pain of the breakup, I had spent long walks trekking through the fields up to the Ami Promenade alongside the Jordan River.
When I moved to my final kibbutz Sde Nehemiya, I was plesantly surprised to not trek through a field to get to a promenade. I would sometimes bike from the promenade down the 5 kilometer or so hike to the nearby town of Kiriyat Shmona.
Since this is a work in progress, I will continue to add to this post, which as I see it, resembles a collage, a quilt of memories so to speak, feeings and stories.