I lived in Israel for about 8 months in 1998. It was an experience that I have actually never tried to communicate via the written word, although millions describing and remembering it swirl in my head all the time. My year in the Middle East was my coming-of-age year, most definitely. As such, it helped mold my personality and my views, and guided me from a carefree youth to a tiny-bit-more-responsible adult. I think the fact that I am a bit of a weirdo can be directly traced back to the incredibly influential time I spent with people whose first language and culture was not my own. (Trust me on this – being a Jew in North America is nothing like being a Jew in Israel. And not in the ways you would think. In fact, probably the opposite.)
Mostly, I carry with me the things that I learned, about life and people and the way the world works. I think these things have made me a better person, and I try to apply them to my life here.
Like, never sweep around boxer puppies, as they will wrestle the broom out of your hands, but not so that they can finish the sweeping.
And, if you want cute boys to talk about you in their native language, you can’t disclose the fact that you actually understand that language.
And, only black scorpions can kill you.
And, don’t trust a 5-sheckle haircut.
And, staying up all night to watch really bad Israeli rock bands and drink Maccabee beer when you are expected to be cleaning floors in the dining room by 6 am is not a good idea. The only upside to this is that no one else will know that you barfed all over the dining room floors since you are the one cleaning them.
But most importantly, I learned that people who live in a war zone do not live like they are in a war zone.
I’m afraid that lately it has seemed like my life is a depressing tapestry of darkness and woe. (Of course it does, k – you’re posting about miscarriages and bad news and more bad news)
Here’s the thing: I really don’t spend my entire day dwelling on the bad circumstances that have crept into my life as of late. I go to work, I play with my baby, I make dinner and I watch Survivor. Usually I’m not thinking about sad things as I do.
I laugh. Quite a bit. I kiss and hug my daughter and my husband and my friends and I talk about serious stuff, but I also talk about incredibly frivolous, unimportant things, like how my friend is getting crazy hair extensions and how proud I am that I watched all of Casino Royale in one sitting and how we want to start a bowling league, and I want my shirt to say Gladys.
It’s funny, I never ever thought of myself as unlucky. I know people that are unlucky. They are people who lost both of their parents before they were 16, or people who lost their job and then found out they were sick, or people who have struggled with infertility for years or have suffered the heartbreak of losing a pregnancy over and over and over again.
But that’s not me. Yes, I have had some bad news piled on top of bad news lately, and a couple of years ago things were pretty low as well, but holy crow, there is so so much good stuff in my life too.
So I feel a bit disingenuous posting the bad stuff and extracting your sympathy. It feels good to post, it helps to post, but I feel weird about it. As I have said before, I really tend to gloss over ‘tragedy’ in my life. I shake things off. I dismiss them, and don’t readily or easily talk about them. It’s not even a matter of being stoic. I’ve always hated drama, never wanted it, and this all feels too dramatic for me.
Life goes on, is what I mean. And that I don’t want to miss the really good stuff, just because there’s some bad stuff going on too.
Why don’t you guys just shoot me a ‘screw you, crybaby’ every once in a while to strike a balance?
Or hey, even better, I’ll just write about happy stuff every now and then. Because I think I can keep my war zone at bay.
This is how I know the sun still shines