"You live here?!"
Picture this: Me sitting in an American-style bar (at 4AM) full of Yeshiva boys screaming at a hundred screens as Tom Brady's face flashes across the screen.
This was literally my night last night and it was totally awesome.
I've recently been having an internal dilemma. (I promise to elaborate on why the story is important.) I've been living in Israel for 8 months now (go me!) and life has become life. I work, I hang out with friends, I buy groceries and pay bills, etc., etc. And recently I've been feeling that perhaps Israel has lost it's enchantment because it has become so familiar. Don't get me wrong—I am very happy that I can take the bus to most places I want without worrying about getting lost or knowing which stands at the shuk I'm like to buy my vegetables from. However, sometimes I am sitting on the bus and I have to check my google maps to remember that I'm in the freakin' Middle East.
Well last night, during the opening night of the NFL, I was reminded that I live in Israel. Let's back track in the events of my night a little bit to really get the full effect of what happened. At 3AM I walk into Mike's Place (the notorious "American bar" in Israel) to see my roommate who has been working since 7PM. I'm there for a few reasons: moral support for her because she will be working until at least 7AM, and to watch some football! Naturally none of my friends here are interested in football, at least not enough to stay up literally all night to watch, so I sat at a table for 6 by myself.
The bar quickly gets crowded. Every seat is filled with a kippah-covered Yeshiva boys and a smattering of their Seminary girlfriends. The energy is through the roof. These baby 18-year-olds are about to watch football in a bar and order as many drinks as their parents' credit card limits can buy them. Eventually the only empty seats around are the ones at my table. I see yet another group of boys coming in and they look around - no where to sit! But one of the brave ones comes over and asks if I'm sitting alone and so I decide to invite them to join me. What am I thinking? Generally I can't stand these little shits. They are loud and obnoxious, they take up all the seats on the bus, and they can't hold their liquor. But tonight they are my new friends and I am going to watch football with them (and maybe get a beer or two out of their constantly-refilled pitchers).
The game is starting and I start up a conversation with them. "So, what are our names? Where are we from? How old are we?" They're all from the New York or New Jersey area and they are all fresh out of high school. The brave one extends the question to me. I tell them my name and how old I am and then they wanted to know what I was doing here. "I made aliyah. I live here."
"What?! You live here?! That is so awesome!"
And at that moment I paused, looked around me and thought about it. This kid is right. I live in Israel! This is awesome! Sure, the day-to-day isn't so exciting. I wake up, I work, I eat, I sleep—I'm just a human being living my life. But it is cool that I live in Israel because only in Israel would I find myself in a bar at 4am watching football with a table of Yeshiva boys.
Just like only in Israel do I get to ride a space-age light rail next to the ancient walls of the Old City. Only in Israel do I get to hear people on the streets speaking every language of the world only to be united by the common language of the Torah. And only in Israel do I get to say I live in the world's single Jewish state, something that is amazing today and will always be amazing even past the day I die.
So thank you Yeshiva boys for reminding of how awesome it is that I live in Israel. I hope you all will join me for some more football at Mike's Place this season and that your year here is even a fraction as amazing as my life here is.