Where are we? I have no idea. I’m too tired to care. “Can we go home?” I want to know.
My feet feel like they’re going to buckle under my own weight. Has it really been 13 hours since I’ve been able to walk more than 20 feet straight? I want to sit down, or to lie down. My head hurts.
So many people, screaming, cheering. There’s hats, flags, and stickers. There’s volunteers who usher us into a tram which takes us to a building.
Everything is gray and empty. There’s cold, hard chairs, all attached in rows in corners of the room. Dark gray walls, lighter gray floor, and gray desks and chairs scattered around.
Where are we? I have no idea. I’m too tired to care.
“Can we go home?” I want to know.
And in that second I realize ‘home’ is a place that no longer exists. At least for now, at least until I decide if the absorption center is a home or not. (Spoiler: the 2 rooms me and my family share for the next 3 weeks is NOT a home). I am asked to amuse my siblings and then get pulled in different direction to sit in front of different people who tell me different things and shove strange leaflets into my hands.
I am given a number, family members are given the chance to have new legal names. I stick with mine, as much as my mother tries to convince me that going by “Dassi” or “Hadassah” will be so muchhhh nicer. Eh, I’ll pass. I’m too tired to think.
Moments later we are in the glaring sunlight, a photo taken of the group, the group of people who are with us, who are also all making aliyah.
I’m sitting in another place for another few hours straight, squished in between human beings and bags. So…this is Israel, I think to myself. I watch the mountains whizz past. Mountains, I’ve seen hundreds, I’ve travelled to over 10 States before…but these ones look different. I wonder if mountains can really be so different?
The building we reach is taller than anything I’ve lived in before. There’s more than 10 floors at least.
Is this really Israel? Nothing sounds like Hebrew. Not that I would know what language anyone is speaking, as I’ve never heard people speaking in languages I didn’t understand besides for Spanish perhaps.
We reach our “home” for the time being.
The the first room is small, with one dresser, sink, and electric burner. There’s a shower…I think? It’s level with the bathroom floor, how does that even work? Won’t I flood the entire apartment?
The next morning I am handed a stick with some type of rubber contraption on one side. I fail at making it work. Also, I discovered much too late that you need to activate the hot water by pressing a button. I didn’t know we were moving to a 3rd world country?
I mean, at least there’s toilet paper.
Someone told me before getting on my flight that israeli’s still used cardboard and leaves. (No joke), but they were right about the no cream cheese and bagels. (Not anymore)
All of us children are piled into the second room. How on earth can I get any sanity between the massive boxes all over and the jetlagged hyperactivity of the younger ones? I discover very quickly I am jetlagged too, and the night time is a party of everyone complaining it’s impossible to sleep when others are acting like they are on the sugar rush of a lifetime, and them complaining there’s nowhere to act like you are the sugar rush of a lifetime.
I realize after the 4th day it will take a miracle for all of us to be asleep at the same time.
The first week is spent in a mess of confusion. Meeting with our new doctors, new schools. Everyone is I excited to meet me. I can’t quite understand it, as I can’t quite understand anything anyone is saying.
The 3rd afternoon there me and my sister go rollerblading in the nearby outdoor shopping area. We also try chocolate milk in a bag…IN A BAG? Wait…what? How on earth do you drink it? Oh…you need to rip off a corner with your teeth…and just drink?
I sit down to write in my journal
That’s what’s coming from their mouths.
I recognize a word, or perhaps a letter once in a blue moon
as I sit in the dark, and dream of the colors that only exist
from the place I came from
Where is home?
Is was there, it’s not here
I think it’s in my heart
I learn to understand the language
not of speech
but of their essence
Who I am?
Am I not a product of where I came from?
I think I understand that I am much more
As a connect to these strange new surroundings
They no longer seem as strange as once before
I tell you, when you claim it will never get better
for I know it will. I have no past regrets, for I have learned so much here
and I know this was meant to be and I feel this is where I should be
but it’s okay to wonder about the place I came from
the place I once called home
before I knew what home was
the place I claimed that could only be for me
before I knew who ‘me’ was
Nonsense taught me more than I can ever explain
Nonsense was the beginning of my journey
Nonsense is what I love about this world
Everything is strange.
But it’s a good kind of strange, there’s a certain level of uncertainty, but there’s also excitement, adventure, hope.
Hope you enjoyed today’s post!
Let me know if you want more storytime posts!
Have a greatttttt week!!!
– Hadas Bat-el