It seems that everyday I experience something more and more Israeli. I've been thinking for the last week or so about what my last post for this trip would be, however in the last few days things have changed a lot. As if the past 5 months in Israel did not bring me enough perspective, G-d (or Hamas or someone) decided to squeeze in a few more big drops of the stuff.
For those of you who do not follow the Israeli news (most don't, so there is no need to feel guilty if this is you), Israel has come under heavy rocket fire from Hamas in Gaza in the last week, especially the last few days. Read any news outlet you want on the situation: Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Haaretz.
(Times of Israel Live Blog)
Many of my closest friends and family know that the last 5 months have been very hard on me personally. I experienced some of the worst depression of my life, encountered medical challenges, and have been faced with a lot of large, complicated questions about myself, my life, the world, and where I'm going. All of it was difficult and scary. Some of it is still difficult and scary.
Tonight is my last night in Israel. In light of some recent events I wanted to try to push myself to make the last night fun and special, so I texted 3 of my favorite Israelis and invited them out for some sushi. Just as I was saying my goodbyes to the kids in the family I'm staying with the Code Red siren went off in Tel Aviv (signifying a rocket was headed our way). I immediately picked up the 4 year old boy I was sitting with at the kitchen table and followed his dad, 3 month old baby in hand, to the stairwell. We waited there a few minutes, heard the boom of what we later found out to be the Iron Dome Missile Defense System intercepting the rocket, and went back inside. As soon as we walked in the door our phones lit up with calls and texts. His were from family making sure everyone was ok. Mine were those, plus my friends regretfully canceling our plans. We were not going out tonight. Everyone was staying home with their families and I could not blame them.
The rest of the night (which I spent in eating pita pizza instead of sushi) I've been thinking about fear. I've felt so scared so many times in the last 5 months for many reasons. I faced the most aggressive depressive episodes of my life. I learned there are so many jobs I don't want to do, but haven't figured out the ones I actually do want to do. I've flip-flopped daily, even hourly, about whether or not I want to live in Israel or America.
But tonight, literally under rocket fire, I did not feel scared. No. I take that back. I did not feel scared for myself, but rather I felt scared for others. I felt scared for the 4 year old boy I held in my arms. I felt scared for my friends who maybe weren't handling the situation as well. I felt scared for my friends I knew were coming to Tel Aviv to meet me, worried that although the rocket did not hit where I was it might have hit them. I felt scared for the people who live in much closer range to rockets who have to sleep in their bomb shelters for days because the rockets just don't stop.
5 months sounds like a long time, but it really isn't. I came in with an unrealistic expectation of answering so many questions inside myself. Well, sorry-not-sorry, but after everything this is the small conclusion I've come to: What I am most scared of is anything having to do with me. It is always "How are YOU feeling Amy? What are YOU going to do after college/the rest of YOUR life? Where do YOU want to live?" These questions stop me in my tracks. These fears paralyze me. But when I am scared for others, worried about others, I jump into action. I scoop up the 4 year old boy to take him into the stair well. I text my friend across town in Jaffa to check if she is ok being alone during this time. I call my friend who was supposed to meet me and make sure he has gotten ahold of his boyfriend and made sure he is safe.
In a few words, when I stop getting stuck in the "me, me, me" I am the best Amy, the one I like the most, the one that makes all the scary feelings and questions melt away.
I guess now we go from here. Thank you all for your readership over the past 5 months. I'll continue to post while I'm back in the states, because I assure you my Israel journey is still just beginning.