I have been back in America for a while now, trying to adjust to it all over again.  I have never actually… adjusted to it.  

I’m just slow. I still strike everyone here as an obvious foreigner each time I go anywhere. Starbucks, the doctor, the supermarket. People hear my accent and get SO alarmed, or curious(which I prefer). They give me this surprised look!  Israel is almost never on the list of guesses to where I’m from, and if it is, well, how intelligent of them.

I don’t know what is my problem exactly.  I mean, I lived in the United States for a WHILE. Yet, it seems to be getting worst: my accent, my mentality about the situation, the food. I used to be anxious about this, Thinking: “Efrat, you must stop being so obvious. Act American.”.  But I  learned to give it a rest and just let myself be. I guess I am slow.  that’s ok.

I have to admit though, I never tried too hard: many of my friends in college were foreigners, and I studied about China and Japan most of the time in AMERICA. I am very close with my parents who are more Israeli than me (experience wise) and to whom I talk way too often about too many things. In addition, I never watched Gossip Girl!

But I do enjoy season 6 of Game of Thrones these days, yes!

With all due respect to these minor issues, the amount of luck that I have, being able to simply jump to America like this, stay and be,  is enormous. I am the only one in my family with this privilege. Which I got by luck. As I grow older, I get to understand my luck again and again. 

When I was little I was bullied a bit about this in the Kibbutz: “You are not a real Sabra” some kiddos said. Which made no sense to me, of course I am!,  I thought, what else can I be. The answer is:  So many things.

Trump or not Trump, America is to me, and will stay, a refuge, a place to rest and clear my mind. Truly, the land of the free. Though our relationship is subject to change. 

As I travel around the US and meet people, who speak and think unlike me, who teach unlike what I was taught, who inspire me, make me happy, or hurt me deeply ( I am sensitive. Not a Sabra at all in this regard.), I realize that in the end, I go back to my roots, and I learn to value them, to pull strength from them. It doesn’t matter where I am. 

I have to create my own balance. Define myself, without letting others do it for me. Then, I don’t feel like a stranger anywhere. 
It takes time. But it is ok to be slow.

I hope that as I become even older, busier and in love with the people around me, a bit more in love with myself as well maybe, I will find the time to look back at this period and see that it was healthy.

A piece from the SVA Chelsea Gallery beautiful Illustration exhibition I visited today

No regrets in the forest

Lately, I am starting to think about going back to New York.

My plan of coming to Israel was pretty much a “no plan”.  And it worked great for the past six months. I’ve been doing some interesting stuff. 

I think New York became a real deal after my dad came to visit me and went back, leaving me here with the hole of his absence.

It was great having him here, we drove around and met people, laughed at old jokes, old memories. It was like we never left, never moved to another place.
We were listening to the radio, amused by the silly commercials, embarrassed by the boldness of Hebrew and Israelis. Everything has so much nerve in this place… everything is so dumb. I think it was always one of the best things about Israel: the joke that it is. 
My dad is really funny too. 
After ten days that seemed like two, he left.
It was one thing to be in Japan without my parents for a long while, but it is a whole different story to be in Israel without them.
My grandmother would say that now I’m all hers. She used to say this a lot. With a loving pride.
She was born here. Looking back from my current viewpoint, I see how rooted in this place she was.  I do wonder how it felt like: living in Israel/Palestine for 80 years. Without really being out of it.  80 years of colorful adventures in this crazy tiny place, speaking Hebrew and eating all familiar tastes for a very long time.
I never thought of it as something special that my grandmother was born here and spoke only Hebrew. But now I know that it is a little bit special.
She was so hurt when we left here, left her. I could see it in her eyes. I was her first granddaughter, the one who turned her into a grandmother, I don’t think she ever imagined me crossing the ocean like that, tearing away from her and this place.  
Being back here I feel like I am doing something to make her happy.  I am a bit late, but I am loving everything that reminds me of her.  I am here. And I am sorry.
I am sorry that I left. Yet,  at some point, I will be leaving again. Because this place is nerve-racking, this place is hectic, it wrenches people to tears and blood. 
And because part of me is not sorry at all: I gained so much from being away, I collected many good memories, I got over monstrous challenges and I met with wonderful people.

It’s nice being a foreigner in New York sometimes. It’s so trippy. 

Back here, I so very often read the news, hear something on the street, or crash into an awful conversation that make me want to leave. Immediately.

I cannot handle this.

I do not want to take part in this maniac piece of earth with this insane group people I share so much with. 

Then I go on a trip like I did this past weekend, and I sit there in the forest. It is a small forest, nothing like the massively heavy and rainy forests of north America.
There aren’t that many trees, and all of a sudden, I smell all those delicious aromas I remember so well.
The earth is different here. The sounds are so specific, unforgettable. I just want to eat it all up, to core myself into it. And if I close my eyes I am almost enjoying it too much. 
This essence, this very real rock I am sitting on. Everything here is so much more alive. I am feeling so alive.

Yes. This little forest, with the shy poppies sprouting around, is much better (to me) than the beautiful forest in New York.

Then I become alarmed by the sensation because maybe, just maybe, I am just as insane as everyone else around here. 

And I shouldn’t let this craze get me.

But it’s obviously too late.

A "lefti" post

I’ve been a Lefti(/ שמאלניֿֿֿ/traitor to Israel/an illogical person, etc.) ever since I heard about politics.

But actually, I’m just someone who never bought the “chosen people” bullshit. Why do we, Jews, deserve something and other don’t.

It’s very simple.

I love this country, therefore, I strongly believe that Palestinian freedom and self-determination is a key factor for the future of this place. Because without it, there is no future, for anyone. People who are having difficulty seeing this are living an illusion that will explode bloodily in their faces.

There are people who are all heart on the “other side”, Palestinians who love their children MUCH MUCH more than they hate us (… Golda you weren’t very smart), and will keep on living and loving in hurt, treasuring their culture and heritage. Because what else can they do. People live. Their spirit lives. We jews should know.

I met people with bright eyes and sad smiles who warmed my heart with their love. Who didn’t hate me even a bit when I tried my best to feel their pain.

Palestinian culture can be very warm. People welcome each other happily when they meet and wistfully when they depart, they shake warm hands, kiss your cheek, they tell you what on their hearts, truly.

Israelis are very similar. At least the way I experienced Israelis during my life. There is a lot of beauty among Israelis. Good souls. I will always carry this within me.

I was raised to fear Palestinians, to keep guard of them, to consider my own life above theirs.
I was raised to love life fervently, to treasure it, to enjoy every day of it, hold it dear, always.
I was raised third generation to the holocaust, a sick generation, a wounded generation. Frightened to blindness generation.

I am seeing the Israeli militaristic fetishism around me and I am disappointed,  I am angry, I am ashamed. I try to understand, see why, and how. How did we get here. Usually, I can see the person who speaks my language and shares my culture. See the fear. But sometimes I cannot, and I am nothing but disgusted by them.

I am seeing the Palestinian Propaganda online and I am horrified. I am anxious. I know well that some people, blinded by their own anger and fears, will be thrilled to harm me, slaughter me.

It is sad. All of it. It is bitter.

There is nothing to hold on to but to those who shine above this darkness.