I have received some feedback from one of my readers who said that I never gave the back-story about how I ended up in Israel in the first place. So, in an effort to correct this intentional or unintentional (decide for yourselves) oversight I am going to give you the Reader's Digest version of the story.
Eighteen years ago when I began dating the man who would become my husband, he mentioned to me that the one thing that was important for him to accomplish in his life, was to live in Israel. Looking back on it, I’m not exactly sure when the “forever” part entered the picture.
Years later, we still disagree on this point.
It was easy to be cavalier about spending a year or two in Israel when I was 29 years old and single. Heck, a life experience was a life experience; why not. All the while, my soon-to-be husband, Henry, was thinking he had found a woman who was committed to living out his dream of moving to Israel -- and living there forever. Neither of us realized at the time that we were living in parallel universes where the same idea was taking root in totally different ways.
I never really took the matter seriously for the next eight years. Yes, it surfaced once in a while, but his friends – all the while rolling their eyes in that “we’ve heard this a thousand times before” way -- confidently reassured me that he had been talking about this for years before he met me and he had never done anything about it, so there was no need to worry now.
I am not sure when I realized that now was precisely the time I should have begun to worry and that this hypothetical move was anything but that. It probably should have dawned on me when we made our first trip as a family to Israel in 1998. Picture it: a two-year old, a baby, an adolescent stepson and a partially deaf mother-in-law in tow … not to mention, my travel partner, the Ultimate Zionist.
As I try desperately to recall positive moments from that trip – any moment – it occurs to me that the whole trip is filed in my memory as a blur straight from hell. Babies adjusting to time zones, getting used to functioning in temperatures usually reserved for baking cookies, language barriers, an endless stream of Henry’s long lost and over enthusiastic relatives, cleaning vomit from children’s clothing and hair in dirty, out-of-the-way gas station washrooms. Did I mention the insects swarming me as I scrubbed those smelly clothes in that bathroom? Strangely enough, I remember that part very clearly.
Did I mention that the trip was hell. And I haven’t even mentioned that my stepson was continually lost – he came to Israel to peruse the gift shops. He spent the entire trip thinking about what he was going to buy for the people at home. He probably would have been just as happy in the Duty-Free section of Ben Gurion Airport for three weeks. And there, at least, he would have been much easier to find.
The trip was mostly miserable. In retrospect, it’s the “mostly” part that probably left the door open just enough for Henry to convince himself that all these years he had been right and that some day, some how, we were going to live in Israel.
Of course Henry is no fool. And he suspected that the trip had not been as good for me as it had been for him. I think the epiphany hit him as our plane from Israel landed on the tarmac in Toronto and everyone began clapping enthusiastically – except him. He just sat there glaring at me for being happy to be home. I think it was at that precise moment that he concocted his plan to have us practice living in Israel during our summer vacations.
Okay, that's enough for today.... more on the practicing part in upcoming episodes.