On account of the fact that this could be my last month in Israel, I’ve been ready to take on new adventures and say yes to every opportunity that gets thrown my way. I booked a trip with some of my friends to Eilat (stay tuned)! I ventured out to חוף דור, a remote beach up a bit past Caesaria. Had my cousin Mika’s 10th birthday party and got to catch up with lots of family over delicious food and cake. Tried a new Retro pancake bar in Kfar Sava with the most mind-blowing pancakes I’ve ever had (see below). I even went to an IDC Shavuout party at Shefayim Water Park…albeit the park itself was underwhelming compared to the monsters we have in the States, but with music, cheap alcohol, and an entire park filled with just college-aged students (which in Israel is 24+), it was better than I could’ve hoped for. But, one of my favorites was eating at the blind restaurant in Yaffo.
Turns out, eating in the dark is more disorienting than you’d think. Pretty much you walk in to the blind museum, put your personal belongings (including phones and wallets) in a locker and fill out a menu survey before entering the dark dining room. I ordered the gnocchi and the “surprise” for dessert…figured I’d put my taste buds to the test. We were transitioned into a dark tunnel and led to our table conga-line style by our waitress, Roni, who has been blind since she was around 10. She seated us side by side from each other and across from a random couple whom we found out were from Toronto, Canada. Before our food even came, I got soaking wet trying to pour a pitcher of water into my cup, stabbed myself with my knife, and accidentally set my fist in the bowl of hummus (several times). We got acquainted with our new dining companions, Marty and Beila, whose ages we guessed (incorrectly) based on their voices, and really got to know them without even having a face to the name. And then, the food came. Let’s just say I’m incredibly lucky it was pitch black because I was missing my mouth with the fork, dribbling food all over myself, and resorted to eating gnocchi with my hands by the end because I couldn’t find the rest of the food in my bowl. After an excessive use of napkins, my dessert arrived. I have no clue what it looked like or if it was even appetizing, but I’m pretty sure it was a mango-flavored crème with pastry and merengue. Two hours of sitting and eating in the dark, I overcame the initial claustrophobia and truly understand the meaning of heightened senses when one is unavailable to you. It was an intimate experience, reasonably priced, and highly recommended for anyone coming to TLV!
Hands down the biggest disappointment of the month was Shavuout, the holiday 40 days after Passover that celebrates the receiving of the Torah. Last year, I was in Jerusalem in the holy city at the Kotel with tens of thousands of other people for the sunrise. This year, I was stuck in bed with a 24-hour stomach flu and a fever. While I did get to catch up on some R&R and watch tons of movies, I missed the cheesecake, dairy-filled holiday meals. Thankfully, there are always leftovers on Shavuout :)
From here begins all of the closing ceremonies and goodbyes. But before I delve into that deep hole, I want to return to some of the questions I posed in the beginning of this post. I’m pretty much in the same position I was back in October 2015 my senior year of college when I had to make a decision on “my next move.” I had a luxurious grace period of 6 months before graduation last year to figure it out. However, coming into ITF, I didn’t want to be caught up in the same tangled web of logistical worries. Trying to live in the moment and enjoy the present, being lead by day-to-day life problems, I didn’t really weigh or consider my “future” options until March.
Three months later, and after a lot of internal reflection, I’m stuck because I now have two homes. I built a community in this country, with friends and family as well as mentors and students. And yet, I have connections with places and people that I will be missing no matter where I choose. So in the spirit of the archetypal Israeli mentality, I will try to continue to live day by day for the remaining time that I have here. One friend of mine said something back in October when we were walking through the Petah Tikva shuk that really stuck with me. People really “live” here. You hear it on the streets, see it in the coffee shops, feel it in the way they emanate energy around them.
And with that I also want to share some news. At the end of July I am actually returning to Washington, DC to begin a new job (details to come once the paperwork is signed). It’s the same job I wanted right before I got to Israel a year ago, and it’s an opportunity I am beyond lucky to have available to me now. While the prospect of returning to DC and picking up where I left off before this year began is exciting, I am also terrified that I will forget this wonderful place and the effect it’s had on me.
I know I will miss Israel every morning when I wake up to a cup of fresh brewed coffee, when I don’t have to walk 45 minutes to work; in the afternoons when I won’t get to leave work at 2pm or go over to see Shani or Omer for English; in the evenings when I won’t be able to sit at a coffeehouse for hours on end without being bothered by the staff, when the streets will be empty, when people will ask me how I am but not really mean it. I will miss Israel, and the people I’ve connected to, everywhere I look. I will miss my friends and my family who have been my support system and whom always offer open arms. I will miss Israel when I am with my family, when I see my grandma. The tears will come (stay tuned for the next post), but in the spirit of living for the day, I also need to be open to change and enjoy the next chapter of adventure that’s about to unfold. I have so much waiting for me back in the States. My closest and longest friends, of whom seeing in April for Passover was just a tease, the conveniences of life in America, and an amazing job! It will be hard, just as the first few months in Israel were. And even though my MASA with ITF in Israel is ending, I know that the real MASA is just beginning.