What do you call this?
When I first started blogging about my Aliyah experience, about two weeks into our new life here, a friend in Israel (also an oleh from the States) told me he had also started a blog when he first made Aliyah. But he soon found he “didn’t have much to say or was too busy to write.”
I smiled and thought to myself, “I can’t imagine ever feeling as if I had nothing to say about our experience here or no time (or inclination, rather) to write about it.”
That was almost a year ago. And my last blog post was a month ago.
I have asked myself many times over this past month, “Why aren’t you blogging about this or that?”
The answer in my mind each time was some version of, “I’m too tired.”
But I think the real answer is, “I’m too busy living here to write about it.”
I am approaching my one year anniversary of making Aliyah. And, thus, approaching the time of reflection.
And suddenly, reflecting on my life here, seems a luxury I do not have.
There are too many va’adot (committees); too many aseifot (meetings); too many parent-teacher conferences; playdates; conference calls; rush projects; and networking meetings.
There are nights when I have to work late. There’s the weekly ulpan I am a part of. There’s the appointment with the massage therapist and the vaccinations the kids have to get.
Of course, there are the seven loads of laundry each week and the dishes every night. There’s homework, volunteer projects, yoga class, birthday parties, Shabbat dinners, and Skype calls with the folks back in the States.
For so long, our life was focused on klita (absorption.) Our klita was front and center. For a time, our life revolved around visits to this Misrad or that Misrad. Our life was filled with papers to sign and documents to scan. Our life focused on meeting new people and navigating new roads. Our world centered on making sure everyone was mentally safe and sound here in a new land, new community, new school. Our life revolved around figuring out whether or not we were “going to make it.”
I think we figured that one out.
At least, for now.
Psychologists would likely agree that all five of us in my little family unit are still very much in the process of “absorption,” particularly emotionally. But it’s clear to me, that we’ve pretty much been absorbed.
There’s a word in Hebrew for moving here: Aliyah.
There’s a word for the process of getting adjusted and trying to fit in: Klita.
But is there a word for the space in which I now exist? The space in which I live, with both feet planted, yet still not so firmly?
Is there a word to describe the space in which:
I still find myself fretting when I wait in line at the grocery store?
I still find myself scripting out all my conversations in my head before I have them in Hebrew?
I still find myself screaming at drivers?
I still find myself longing for American stores and American conveniences?
I still find myself grateful for English signs and English speakers?
I still find myself crying sometimes at how hard it all seems?
The space in which I do those things and yet also know with confidence that I am happy? That I have friends? That my children have friends?
That we’re all better-than-okay?
Is there a word for this space?
There is a phrase, I’ve learned, that parents use to try to get their kids to calm down when they’re acting up or, in the case of our lovely Shabbat lunch last week, acting out while the grownups are trying to enjoy good food and wine.
Their parents say to them:
“Tistadroo!” Which loosely, and with typical Israeli brashness, translates as “Manage!”
Often in response, the child will say Ani m’soodar! Which could be loosely translated as “I’m arranged!” or “I’m settled!”
Any person, but especially any parent, who has been through a big life change understands, there comes a point at which you, too, have to “Manage!” When you no longer have the luxury — or the inclination to– focus on “The Change.”
And one day, God willing, you notice you’re managing pretty well.
And that’s when you’re m’soodar.
Jen Maidenberg is is a writer, editor, activist and former assistant editor at the Arizona Jewish Post. Visit her website at http://jenmaidenberg.com/.