Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 21: Jerusalem (Nachlaot)

The rest of my trip to Israel went fairly smoothly - Miriam got to JFK around 3:30 in the afternoon, so from that point on I was pretty entertained. She was staffing the flight for a group of NFTY kids going on EIE, which meant that we were traveling with 26 teenagers, most of whom assumed that I was also working for NFTY. I did the best I could to help out without having any actual authority or desire to control the group, so mostly I just answered questions and looked reassuring. One of the teens managed to misplace his passport (it was in his carry-on, which the flight attendants took from him at the gate and checked) and I stuck with him through the process of recovering it while Miriam took the rest of the kids through passport control and baggage claim. Once she turned them over to the NFTY in Israel staff we were free to go, so I hopped into a sherut (a shared van service), and was off on my way from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

I'm sure the drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is pretty, but I slept through the whole thing, so I actually have no idea. Maybe next time...

Sharon had e-mailed me directions to her apartment, so I knew generally where I was going, but not entirely. I had just paid the sherut driver and gotten all of my stuff together when I heard some of the best words I've heard in a while - "Excuse me, are you Naomi?" Yonatan (Sharon's boyfriend, who was meeting me at her apartment) had actually just arrived, and happened to see me on the sidewalk with all of my luggage and took a wild guess. I have never been so happy to be recognized by another human being.

Thursday afternoon is a bit of a blur - I spent time relaxing with Sharon and Yonatan in her apartment in Nachlaot, and then we went to spend some time with friends of theirs who happen to be leaving Israel tomorrow.

On Friday I had a beautiful first-real-day-in-Jerusalem experience. Sharon and I slept in a little, and then spent our morning doing some shopping at the shuk. We bought all sorts of lovely things - fruits and vegetables, bread, cheese, and some of the best ice cream I've eaten in a while. We also picked up some herbs at a flower shop down the street from Sharon's apartment, so now she has mint, basil, thyme, and zatar for tea and cooking and eventually for pesto.

Today has been a lovely, relaxing day - we slept in (I'm still catching up on rest from the journey!), and cooked breakfast, and then watched an episode of Top Chef. I have no idea what we'll be up to this evening, or what I'll be up to tomorrow, but I know tomorrow night I'll be going to a Pardes meet-the-students event, which should be really nice!

I don't think the reality of the situation has caught up with me yet - the fact that I live here now, and that I'll be staying for ten months. It all feels a little surreal.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 18: JFK

I woke up very, very early this morning to get to RDU so that I could fly to JFK, where I am currently sitting. And waiting. And waiting. My flight to Tel Aviv is at 7:35 and it is currently 12:55, and I have been here since 9:30. It's been a bit of a day.

This week went by in a bit of a haze of packing. Narrowing down all of your earthly possessions to just what will fit in two suitcases that can't weigh more than 50 pounds each is a bit of a challenge, especially when you consider that I'm moving somewhere with four very distinct seasons.

So. Tomorrow I land in Tel Aviv at 1ish, and then I have to get myself to Jerusalem where I'll be meeting up with Sharon for a few days. I'll move into my new apartment on the 30th or the 31st, and start getting settled. Orientation starts on the 1st, and we pretty much dive right in! I'm very excited for the next few weeks - I think it's going to be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 11: North Carolina

I've been home for a few days now, and they've been some of the most productive days I've had in a while! I've basically been sorting through all of my belongings, trying to get rid of clothes and belongings that I don't wear or use anymore, and unpacking everything I brought home from Chicago. I've done a ton of other stuff as well - went to see Julie and Julia with Mom, got a new carry-on suitcase for the flight to Israel, set up a new bank account that I can use abroad, picked up some fair trade tea for Sharon, etc.

It's definitely taking time to adjust to being out of Chicago - I'm doing a really big thing right now, and it's difficult to do it when my friends are all so far away, but it's also really nice to be home with my parents. Also, I'd forgotten how nice it can be to have a car! Don't get me wrong - I love public transit. I really, really do - I love taking the train to get places, and knowing how the bus system works. On the other hand, being able to walk out my front door and get into a car that's waiting for me and drive anywhere I want at my own pace, with my own soundtrack and control over the air-conditioning is amazing.

I'm starting to get really excited about Israel - Pardes posted the class schedule for the upcoming year, and I spent some time looking at that yesterday - I wanted to start highlighting things, but I've decided to hold off on making any major decisions about classes until I'm actually in Israel. I don't really need to worry about any of it right now, and I have other things to focus on! Look at me, taking things one step at a time. :)

Still on my to-do list are things like buying health insurance and an Israeli cell phone, both of which will probably happen this evening. Or tomorrow. Or maybe on Friday...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 3: Boston

Leaving Chicago has been difficult, as expected. I miss my friends. I miss my apartment. I miss the way Chicago feels and smells and sounds. The water here tastes funny.

Coming back to Boston has been a little strange for me - I was here briefly last November, but other than that I haven't really been in the area since graduation. I used to think that I could live here forever, but now I don't think I could live here at all. It's hard to explain, beyond a general sense that Boston doesn't fit right - something about being here feels itchy to my brain. Mostly, I think it's the constant refrain of "not Chicago, not Chicago," running through my head, but I also think it's the realization that I don't actually know that much about this city.

Staying with Jen has been really great, if a little awkward. She just moved into her apartment, and it was a little strange to be around for the first few days of her meeting her roommates - I think it's good that I'll be away for a few days, so that they can spend some time together. They have a lot of conversations ahead of them!

Yesterday was Brandeis day - Jen and I dropped by Student Activities and Hillel to say hello to our old bosses\advisers. I miss talking to those people every day - both of those organizations had a huge impact on my Brandeis life, and it's weird to me that I don't see them all of the time the way I used to. Last night we hung out in Waltham at the Floyd St. House - I got to see some old friends, and we watched a creepy movie called The Mist, which totally freaked me out. Giant insects are scary!!

Plans for the afternoon include hanging out with Miriam, and then dinner at with my aunt and uncle. Anne has graciously offered to drive me to New Jersey and back, for which I am incredibly grateful. Not having to take the bus and the train there and back will certainly make the trip less stressful.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 1: Chicago to New York to Boston

I left Chicago today.

I am sitting on the floor in JFK, having just devoured some incredibly overpriced sushi, trying to comprehend everything that has happened to me in the last week. Namely: I packed up my entire life to ship home, said goodbye to some of the best friends I've ever made, left my job, left my clients, left my city, and embarked on a crazy whirlwind tour of part of the east coast.

Leaving is always exhausting, and this move has been particularly tough - I found myself another family here in Chicago, and choosing to walk away from it is scary. I know that they support me in this adventure, and I'm excited for it too, but it's hard to leave, and it's sad to know that I won't see some of them again for at least a year.

I'm on my way to Boston right now, to visit some friends and family, and then next Saturday I head home for ten days before leaving for Israel. It's a little scary to think that in seventeen days I'll be on a plane bound for Tel Aviv.
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