Beautifully Complex and Frustrating

Well, I’m coming home in about a week.

Don’t have too much to say at the moment.

It ended well after we our final week long trip together in Jerusalem finished: We had good goodbyes. Lots of summarizings of the year. Last moments of bonding. Tons of crying.

The connections are strong. Right now, they almost feel alive and breathing. Tangible.

Not to be cliché …

I hope that my friends, here, find ways to continue seeing each other, despite their drafting into the army and following their own separate paths inside. And I hope, when the opportunities present themselves, that the other internationals and I find ways to easily reconnect with each other and with our Israelis.

A word we liked to use here was “process.” The process that each one of us went through over the year. How we changed and how we grew. And I think that this process I underwent is one of the most precious gifts I could be taking home with me from this year. Something that is going to have to follow me wherever I go and with whatever I decide to do. I didn’t see my process happen. And I don’t see how I am different from the beginning. But I witnessed others’ and I see the beauty of both who they were and who they became. These others have said the same to me. So, I really hope that this gift does stay with me and I don’t loose who I am. That, in my next adventures, I can continue to carve this path onward and upward.

I do not know what will become of this blog when I return. America just doesn’t seem exciting enough to me to document. Life there is my normal life from nefore this year. I will not be able to do work with Asylum Seekers or be living in an emmersive environment of a completely different culture. Canada, where I will be attending university, isn’t so far off from America, either. (Sorry to all my Canadian friends out there. Your country is still amazing.) And university is just university. Almost every 18-plus year-old in the world goes through this experience. I will always have things to say and share. Opinions and thoughts that I have developed and crafted. But I simply don’t know yet if I will feel like they will be important enough to share with the world.

So for all of those who stayed with me the whole way, thank you – for now, at least – for experiencing this part of my special year with me. Even if it was only for one or two readings here or there. These blog posts have documented the most formative year of my life yet. And it was a great ride. And maybe there will be more moments to come, who’s to say. Like everything else, I will wait and see.

In the meantime, I will be enjoying my last week in Israel. Traveling the country with friends, visiting other friends and family for the last times, and just simply getting my fill of this hot, humid, and beautifully complex and frustrating place.

And So the End Begins

Tonight is my last night in my apartment.

I didn’t really see it coming. No one from my program really celebrated our last night together.

Like…I knew this was coming, but I didn’t expect it to happen today.

It kind of just happened. The end. We haven’t even really talked about it much, or at all. It’s one in the morning, and I only just realized that its my last night in the apartment. I think an hour ago.

I don’t exactly know how I am supposed to feel. It has been a hard couple of last weeks with some amazing, insanely meaningful moments. It has been one summary after another. One closing discussion leading into the next. One more moment where I realized just moments after it happened, that that might have been the very last time I am able to do this.

And it hurts. It hurts so bad.

I said goodbye to my kids in my moadonit, today. And my heart is truly broken. Those kids were one of the most important parts in my year. I walked a group of the kids home afterwords, because they lived close to my apartment, and bought them all ice cream. I didn’t realize until after the ice cream choosing chaos ended how it was my last time with these kids. And next year, they will get someone else. Another American on Bina Gap Year. Because that is how life works.

I know I sat here a year ago, telling myself to enjoy every moment – because the end of the year will be here before I know it … and here I am, wondering if I succeeded.

A drawback of not fully understanding Hebrew is that everything I am experiencing seems like it is behind some sort of screen. I feel slow and sluggish. And that I only got half of what was said. So when we had our ending ceremony or our last classes or even the last volunteering time, I felt like it came so suddenly and had no buildup. Almost like its not a big deal.

It is a big deal.

Either way, a year later, I find myself back where I started. At one in the morning, a week before my return to Saratoga or the start of the rest of my life – apprehensive. I do not know what is going to come next. I do not know what I actually want to do in university and I am so scared about loosing my relationships with the amazing people I have met this year.

I know I will figure everything out,  but I cannot help but to have all the ideas we never did and all the last things I wanted to do one more time floating in my head. And I hope this does not turn into regret. So, in times like these, I think the best comfort I  can hope for right now is that my memories will be of all the best times I had this year. And that I continue to grab as many moments now as I can.

So today is my last night in my apartment. And I am celebrating it. My way. Know that this year was formative and important. And every moment is influencial for me. Despite the barriers I have.

Thank you.

Struggle

“When one is in an act of struggle, they may feel as if their  very essence is being torn in two. Stretched and worn, like an aged tapestry – held together only by its weary threads. Together, but almost not. Left to ponder its choices; hoping beyond hope that pondering will not be the very act that severs it. That action will not over-stress it. That this impasse within itself will come to pass, because even the impasse can tear at those threads. And so the threads continue to fray as time trudges on. They cannot be fixed, for fear of breaking, and they do not want to fracture, for this sacrifices their beauty. And so time weighs its heavy hands; resting, taunting. Causing our hearts to pound. Our writing to become unsteady. It eats and gnaws. Until all we are left with is doubt. Doubt in ourselves. Doubt in our actions. Doubt in our choices. All because of this one, very internal –

struggle.”

I wrote this about a week ago in my creative writing class. The class is in Hebrew. I couldn’t understand most of it. My Hebrew skills are improving, but mostly just to understanding basic, light conversations. From what I got between the translations and this writing exercise, it was about what different words mean to us and the many different ways we can describe each, individual word.

I was sitting in the class, feeling so … torn. I wanted to walk out, I didn’t want to walk out. It was my first class in Hebrew without a friend who could tell me exactly what was going on or to put me completely at ease even if I didn’t want the translations. (I did have a friend, Kineret, trying to help me. It just wasn’t enough, but thank you so much for doing what you could Kin!) And for the first time, I really, truly questioned my choice in staying. I felt like I didn’t belong there. And so when we finally got a writing exercise (write a list of six words that are me and six words that are not me, then take one from each column and write our interpretation of the definition for the word), I went a bit overboard. I wasn’t expecting to, and I certainly wasn’t expecting to share it out loud in a different language than the one the class was conducted in. (Doing this is usually a nerve wrecking experience because I never know if what I’m saying is relevant or an intelligent addition, but I just go for it anyways) But, anyways, I just started writing and the words started flowing.

I’ve never talked before about what it’s like to write this blog for me, but, to be frank about it, I really enjoy it. It has become therapeutic. I didn’t think this would happen, but I have become crazy about keeping this up. So when I started thinking of the words as something … magical, I felt … powerful. I felt like I was controlling the language. I don’t know how. I don’t even know if it’s normal. But I just approached the exercise from a different mindset than any writing I have done before and since then, I have become obsessed. I have written a bunch more passages. I don’t know if I’ll be publishing those, though. We’ll see.

I shared a section of my passage in class (it was the longest by far); I knew that it was different from all the other definitions that everyone read from the mood of people’s voices and their body language. I guess because I couldn’t follow the lesson I could take it where ever my brain and heart wanted me to take it. And I definitely was not expecting the reaction I got – as soon as I finished reading, everyone was silent. I’ve changed a few words here and there since then, but I knew I used some words that some people in the room would not know. I was worried for a few moments that they were silent because they didn’t understand. And I was worried that I would have to explain what I wrote – I really apologize, my friends, because this was not the case at all. After the moments of silence drew to a close, I began receiving compliments. Some of the nicest I have ever received. Or maybe I was just in dire need of acceptance at the moment. Either way, the feelings that caused me to write this passage in the first place started to dissolve. Just like that…

I came on this gap year partly because I want to get more experience in … well, in everything before I go to college and choose what direction I want my life continue in. And I have had experience in everything from being a teacher, Judaic learning, philosophy, social activism, to now creative writing (among much, much more that I’m blanking on at the moment); I have just found something else to consider. Who knows. I used to want to write for National Geographic as a child. Like a super brief phase in my childhood. But maybe I’ll find a way back to this path somehow.

Only time will be able to tell. Until next time!

Jaz