The natural ups and downs of life are far more extreme here in Israel. Where my highs and lows were subtle gradients in my path in England, here in Israel I sometimes feel like I am riding the waves in Taiarapu, Tahiti. Just when I think that I have found my feet along comes a bomb of a wave to knock me off my feet and wipe out. Thank goodness I have always been a strong swimmer if not a natural surfer.
A friend just made Aliyah and asked me what had made my Aliyah so successful. If I am totally honest with myself I cannot say that my Aliyah has been 100% successful, it's a pretty ridiculous expectation, I think I might give it a 75% success rate. For everything that I gained, I also sacrificed. In truth there are very few of my friends who living in this country have it all, just as in the same way there are very few of my friends in the UK or in the States that have it all… but as long as you have your priorities straight and have the most important things to you, then life is never that bad. My priority when I made Aliyah was getting my spirit back… the spirit of Channah Boo which had been lost under the name of “Hannah” in a land where they could not pronounce the ‘CH” without hacking up.
I felt living in England with the 9am-5pm job, which was more 7.30am – 8pm, I never had the time or energy to spend time with those closest to me, my friends and my family. Here in Israel I am home by 5pm and have the entire evening at my disposal to hang with those that give me the most joy and release from the monotony of the day. I realise fully how lucky I am to have the friends I have, and feel even more privileged when my Olah Chaddashah friend turns to me on Thursday night and says, “You have the nicest friends.” What else can I say but, “I know!… they can be yours too if you like!”
Looking through my little black book of friends dotted around the communities of new Olim in the Anglo suburbs of Israel I can see those who have found their Aliyah experiences the easiest and those who have found it a struggle, and for the most part, it has been the ease with which they have fitted into or found their new social circles that has aided them. I turn back to my Olah Chaddashah friend and say, “Now is the time to let go of the friends you had back in England, they will always be there, and you’ll never replace them, but if you want to get on, you gotta get on with those around you… make the effort, and most importantly never be afraid to make yourself known to a group you want to get into… The beauty about Olim is that we rarely turn each other away.” And true to form, within minutes I see her chatting among the group as if she had been there forever.
In the bar, among a sea of strangers, I saw the good friends I have as the lights floating at the top of the water ensuring that in the darkness I don’t become too disorientated and drown. They are there; I trust in them, I know that if I need them they will be there in the same way that if they need me I will always be there. Yet they too give me the space to swim in my own direction, try and catch that killer wave, and laugh with me when I fall flat on my face with a mouthful of sand.
Not to give the impression that it has all been so easy for me… it has not been smooth sailing. I guess it has taken me some time to find a circle of friends who I totally trust and also want to get drunk with on a Thursday night. When faced with my own personal dramas they don’t force their opinions upon me, although they do offer words of wisdom and advice. And when I want to be left alone, they understand and give me space… I don’t feel I need to explain myself… they respect the choices I make, the person I am, and I am free to make my own mistakes. They understand that despite all the manuals that may say otherwise, life is about taking a risk, leaping off the boat and plunging in feet first. Ok so I might drown, so he might push me under, but we might have a lot of fun along the way… what is the point of travelling the road of life if you cannot enjoy the ride!
Me: I guess there is no wrong or right, just the decision I have made and trust in.
Friend 1: Just so that you know that either way we will be there.
And the best bit… the best bits are when you find a friend who; without a word will eat the ice-cream for you, because she just knows you never bought it for yourself; shows up at your apartment with a bottle of vodka and four cans of red bull just because you seemed a little quiet today; will never let you buy jeans that do nothing for that sexy ass of yours; buys you a little present on her way over, just because she thought it might make you smile; is more than happy to walk my friends home, because he is just that kinda guy; knows the right moment to cuddle, because there is nothing more to be said; has a fancy dress costume ready at any given moment so we can stop taking ourselves so seriously and just laugh; lets me call her dog “Shitface”, just because I like saying the word…
Oh and the other best bit is when you can drunk text someone and the next morning they think it is adorable!