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זה להיתרות, לא ביי ביי (It's see you later, not bye bye)

So this is it. This is finally it. Tomorrow I will take myself, my things, all that I've experienced and learned this summer, and put it on a plane back to the good ole' USA. A part of me feels like this day would never come, and the other part of me is in disbelief the day is already here. Although I am not exactly sure how I feel about leaving, I do know there are some major things I will truly miss.

1) The People

To every Israeli, those who hosted me, took me places, helped me find my way, or even just spoke to me, תודה רבה רבה רבה!!! Words cannot explain the love I have for you and all of the Israeli people. And I mean all of you—Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Arab, American, Brazilian, Egyptian, Iraqi, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, etc. You're all an essential piece to this places magnificent puzzle. The first things that made me love Israel, before I even got here, were the Israelis I met in America. Being here has only reinforced my feelings. The Israeli people, literally the living, breathing force of this beautiful country, are strong, full of life, and ultimately full of love. It is both sad and amazing to me that the average Israeli I speak to does not know that their tiny country is so scrutinized in the international community. Quite honestly, it is no surprise they don't understand. They are fully aware that they live in a complicated geo-political/religious conflict, but to them they are just being Israelis. They are just living their lives as Jews, or not, in the single Jewish homeland in the world, seeking life liberty and happiness just like the majority of humans in this world. They understand that their country has it's issues, but they can't fathom how those problems became the problems of the entire world. I'm not trying to "innocence-wash" them. This is who they are, and I love them.

2) My Friends

More specific than the general Israeli population, I am really, really, really going to miss my friends here. Both old ones and new ones, you are all such blessings in my life. Accepting the thought that I don't actually know the next time I'll get to see any of you next is really hard for me. But I know it will happen. I will make sure it happens. And every moment makes me feel that it will be because I'm back in Israel sooner than you make your way to the states ;)

3) The Beach

I grew up my entire life with access to the coast and although I always felt it was beautiful and nice, it was never my favorite place. The beach here is different. In Israel one of my favorite activities of all is to lay on the beach for endless hours. The sand is soft, the water so crystal blue, and the perfect temperature. It's just warm enough to not shock you, but cool enough to still be refreshing during the hot days. The beach at night is especially magical—and in Tel Aviv you could find people seaside at all hours of the night. never before has a place's beaches enchanted me in this way. I'm really trying to mentally prepare myself for my return to the beach-less concrete jungle and grey, sunless skies of Portland.

4) Food

Although I'm craving Chinese, Mexican, and Pizza pretty intensely right now, I am definitely going to miss some Israeli foods. Obviously I'll miss Israeli breakfast. But if I want a shakshouka I can make it at home. What I'll really miss is the out-of-this-world Hummus, Pita, Falafel and Shwarma. I'm sorry America, but you have no freaking idea what a pita and hummus really are. Now that I've been exposed to the real deal I will probably have some trouble eating these things in America. I'll also miss the tasty yogurts and dairy products, the deliciously fresh cucumbers everywhere, and the tasty eggs. I swear these three things are different (and better) here.

5) History

There is a special feeling one gets when they are in a place such as Israel. This place has so much history in it's soil and it's spirit is in the air. I've really enjoyed being in this place where past, present, and future all are existing and thriving in the same space. How can Israel be home to some of the most ancient ruins and the most innovative technological developments of the future? It is just AMAZING. I can't think of another word to describe it. (Maybe magic...)

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