Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Catch 22

Feelings. Funny things, feelings. They change so often and so rapidly, it’s like a whirlwind that has swept in and out. Lately, I’ve experienced so many, I feel as if the whirlwind has swept me up and taken over.

Show a little love... Shai accepts a kiss!
During the first few weeks of August, I felt insecure, anxious and a little apprehensive. I knew I had to move on. My time on the kibbutz – my home for the past 14 months – was coming to an end, but for various reasons, I wasn’t ready to leave.
Besides the fact that I had become attached to the people on the kibbutz and the quiet, peaceful lifestyle, I didn’t have enough freelance work to afford the move. August and September are very quiet months in Israel because of the last part of the summer holidays and the numerous Jewish holidays that accompany the New Year, and so the work wasn’t coming in. So much so that I wasn’t sure how I would pay for the apartment I was about to rent.
I was having regular panic attacks, wondering what I was going to do. I knew it was time to leave, but I wasn’t ready. I’m sure I could’ve organised to stay on the kibbutz a little longer, but then I’d lose the apartment for which I’d been waiting for over six months – a building owned by Telfed, the SA Zionist Fed in Israel and a support organization for olim (immigrants) – and I also realized I needed to be in the city in order to find work. Catch 22.
Then, in the second week of August, I managed to get an interview with a public relations company in Tel Aviv. It sounded promising. Within two weeks, I went to three interviews with various people in the company and on the third, they offered me a position. Part-time for the first two months, and full-time from November. And the chance to work from home. Phew! Relief! Happiness. Nervousness. Excitement. Now I could relax and plan my move.
But the conflicting feelings hadn’t dissipated. Fourteen months is a long time to be in one place. You’re bound to make friends and increase your circle of contacts. I feel I’ve finally become a part of something here, a part of a very large family, a community – even if I don’t speak the language yet. People have accepted me. They’re used to seeing me around and are actually happy to have me here. Even the children say hello to me now.
During the last weekend of August, I put on a slideshow presentation of photos I’ve taken of kibbutz events and chaggim over the past year – a year in the life of Kibbutz Mashabei Sade. I expected around 10 or 20 people to attend. There must’ve been over 30 adults and many children.
Aliza, Rachel, Ella & me partying up a storm!
And many people who really wanted to attend apologized because they were away for the weekend.
I was amazed. Yes, people attended to see themselves and their children, but most of the people in the room were friends I’d made on the kibbutz.
People have been so amazing since they found out I was leaving. Asking me to stay, wishing me luck, telling me to come visit often, offering me a bed when I do visit... and so many of them have given me stuff for my new apartment. Blankets, linen, furniture... and not only from people on the kibbutz. I’m amazed at everyone’s generosity and warmth. Makes me even more sad to leave.
However, I know that living on a kibbutz two hours from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem when you’re single and over 30 is not the best way to increase your social network. Most of the singles I’ve met here have been very young or on the kibbutz for a very short time. People my age are all married with kids. I’ve become friendly with most of the Kibbutzniks and have made lasting connections, but I need to face the next step of my Aliyah.
I have enjoyed my “first home in the homeland” more than I ever believed possible. The desert. The heat. The good times. The bad times. The tough times. I’ve survived the first year and come through it stronger, with good memories and good friends. I can’t believe how things have changed. How different my attitude had become over the past year – from feeling unwelcome and like a stranger, to feeling like a part of something, of a life, a community.
But I know that it’s time to go. I’m moving to Givatayim, which borders Tel Aviv, this week. September. New year. New beginnings. New challenges. Here's hoping the road to settling is paved with success, happiness and plenty laughter!

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