For some four hours this year, two of which have already passed, my family’s Aliyah-versary is sharing the same English and Hebrew date. Yes, believe it or not, it has been nineteen years since my parents, siblings and I packed our bags and embarked on the plane to the Promised Land.
It was on Rosh Chodesh, the first of Av. The start of the nine days.
I went into the army at the age of nineteen. Also during the nine days. That summer was brutal. This summer, it’s brutal again. I was a proud, shocked new soldier in a skirt, shouting down seconds, lugging around a cardboard shooting target with the Ten Commandments of Gun Safety. And I woke up every morning in disbelief that there I was in olive green, standing at attention and singing Hatikvah as the flag was raised.
It is the Nine Days of Jerry. Between his birthday on August first, and his death day on August ninth, there’s a radio station in Nachlaot that dead-icates their setlists to the one and only Garcia, who sang a little while and then flew on, but the music never stopped.
Last week, when we went away from reality for a mere twenty seven hours, I was put in charge of the playlist. I made a rule, so as not to get carried away: up to two songs per artist. When I reached some eighty songs, I figured that would suffice. Sure enough, the car rides were nostalgic and we were giggling and trying to recall all the lyrics of our youth, and I showed up hoarse for my next rehearsal.
I will be averaging four and a half nights of rehearsal a week for the next month or so.
Our road trip was up to Karei Deshe, on the northern beach of the Kinneret.
When I was four and a half, on my first trip to Israel, we stayed there. Erika and I ran out of our room as soon as we opened our eyes in the morning, and splashed around unsupervised in the cool, sweet water.
One Sukkot, when I was just about fourteen, Grammy and Grandpa took the whole family up there, too. I stayed out of the water after going to the bathroom and discovering a strange black-brown stain in my underwear. The dark discharge went on for a few days, and only a month later, when I was in school and there was actual red blood, did I realize that that trip up to Karei Deshe could be considered when my body officially decided it wanted to transition into womanhood.
We were three close friends on the road trip, departing to the Sea of Galilee so as to gain a second wind before returning to our whirlwind summers of renewing leases, finding new roommates, taking tests and writing papers, leaving bad jobs and embarking on new adventures. The water tasted of independence. Bragging on facebook with our pictures, Nuria entitled it #adulting.