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