Struggle, Part II: Leaving

Lot’s wife looked back; I closed my eyes as I left Jerusalem. I chose not to look behind me, but it will not save me from becoming a pillar of salt.

As I sat in the taxi on the way to the airport, I realized that as soon as I enter the United States I won’t have a working cell phone. I began rehearsing how to fluently ask someone to borrow their phone in Hebrew but I don’t have to do this anymore. I don’t have to anticipate my interactions before I leave the house and make sure I can conjugate potential verbs correctly if they come up. I stress about sounding stupid and how to throw in enough colloquialisms and slang to pass as Israeli so that I will be taken more seriously. It works almost all the time, but not without practice.

How would it feel if this were actually my forever home and not “just” a place I loved? I don’t want to live my life grasping the majority of the conversation around me but not quite *all* of it. I don’t want to always be just slightly out of place and to continue to default to a foreign tongue to clear things up when my thoughts switch to Hebrew. When I wake up with Hebrew on my lips because I had been dreaming in this other language and it still feels strange. What am I to do?

I am returning to my home where my native tongue is the default language of the land. I cannot help but admire and feel for the people who live in the United States because there was something about it they loved or needed but for whom English is still a foreign tongue.

I love Hebrew. It thrills me to speak it. It’s concise and percussive and perfectly expressive. Its slang has roots in holy text and its neighboring Arabic. It feels good.

Home feels like home and a distant, slightly uncomfortable memory. It was perfect, only its reemergence on your horizon means your current dream has come to an end.

I cannot look out my windows as we’re driving. I remember how Naomi Shemer wrote Lu Y’hi driving between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. What could I write at this tumultuous time? I am leaving my city of gold without a song upon my lips.

It’s bittersweet. But I am finally ready.

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