You know those people who drive you mad in the morning being all cheerful before you’ve had your coffee? I’m afraid I’ve joined their ranks.
Pesach has come and gone, and I can honestly say that I feel freer. My mind is clearer. I’ve woken up nearly every morning these past few weeks feeling like something special is on its way. It really struck me the morning after arriving back in Israel, after a two-week vacation in the states.
Let me just backtrack and say this: If there’s one thing that proves I am a changed person, it is the fact that I packed an hour before getting on the bus to the airport. An hour. This from the girl who packed two months early before making aliyah. I kid you not.
It was rejuvenating to be with my family. After the initial lethargy that accompanied me from the plane, and after getting back into the rhythm of Baltimore life, home began to warm me. We had family dinner and home-movie night. I took my siblings out for some one-on-one time. My parents and I went out to a Chinese restaurant – just us. We haven’t done that in 10 years! We sat in the living room on Friday night and enjoyed just being together.
The seder brought us to another level. My favorite part was hearing the pieces of Torah my father brought to the table; his unique combination of stories and lessons about leadership, Hashem’s (God’s) love for us, and our love for each individual. This year, my brothers put on hilarious renditions of the Ma Nishtana, rapping the four questions with shades and imitations of accents they hadn’t mastered. In a (predictable) twist of events, my mother also composed a superb rap about Pesach.
When we sang ha lachama anya, the prayer about the bread of affliction and our deep hope for the coming redemption, my eyes clouded up.
It was strange and sweet to visit my sister Hadassa in her new home, seeing how she’s created her haven since getting married. We got a little taste of our bygone late-night chats sitting on her living room couch.
It was extremely healing and relieving to talk to my parents face to face, hearing their advice and encouragement, and feeling their support. I could stay in my parents’ hugs forever.
The four youngest have grown up a lot, and it was charming to see their little quirks and interests. It’s never easy to say goodbye. I mean, it was real torture, if I’m honest.
And yet, waking up in Israel felt blissful. Opening my eyes to the white walls of my small bedroom was like seeing an old friend. Gratitude washed over me like a waterfall. This is the life I want so badly, and it’s humbling to see it unfold.
One thing I learned from going home is the necessity to prioritize. Dr. Samuels, my excellent chiropractor who does so much more than chiropractics, taught me a profound lesson.
“If you are here,” she said, holding her right hand waist level, “and you think you’re here,” she said, moving her left hand a foot up, “and you want to be here,” now moving her left hand even higher, “Well, Hashem is waiting back here for you. Don’t let your ego get in the way.” Now both her hands were back at waist level.
It was just what I needed to hear. Believing that I can do everything was believing that I could text and drive at the same time. Just kidding.
I’ve also been focusing lately on building rather than expanding. Lots of my drive since moving to Israel has been to find opportunities, make new friends, and experiment with my newfound independence (…fine, adulthood). With my backpack full and life more predictable, I’m ready to go deeper into my relationships and explore the vistas I’ve already traversed.
Now that the black chalkboard in my mind
has been cleared
I inspect for traces of faded limestone
and identify those which have remained.
Stepping up to the board, a weathered piece of chalk in hand,
I trace the lines until they form a map.
No longer do I need to search for faded rays.
My new frontier is between the boundaries
created by experiences that shone too brightly
to be erased;
souvenirs that stood the test of time.