6-months in: feeling at home (more or less)
It is hard to believe, but the calendar does not (usually) lie. It’s been 6+ months since we came back to live in Tel-Aviv. Our experience tells us that it takes a full year to really feel at home in a new place. But the 6-month milestone definitely calls from some retrospection. It just so happened that the better half and I went out on a date last night and I used the opportunity to get her perspective on how we’re doing. She usually just knows the answer intuitively without having to think too hard, which is very convenient (but can also be very annoying). I know what you’re thinking — asking your very pregnant wife how she’s doing is a precarious move (she recently berated me for smiling at her too much) but she was in a good mood so I got away with it. Anyways, it turns out that we are doing well overall.
The kids are settled into their lives with their friends and endless activities. They are still very adept at driving us crazy from time to time but they have genuinely gotten used to their life in Israel (how hard can it when you can go to the beach in February?!).
We are also feeling more and more at home and missing less from the day-to-day life in the U.S. The short weekends here are probably our biggest consistent pain-point. There’s just much less time to unwind, rest, travel and spend quality time with the kids and with each other. Couple that with the larger time commitment for the extended family and you get weekends that simply slip through your fingers.
Another area which I complained a lot about initially but am getting much more used to is the underdeveloped e-commerce scene here. The direct result is that we lead a life that is less consumption-focused, and I actually like it. In addition, I have come to re-discover and appreciate the benefits of local commerce (much more personal). I have been thinking about this topic a lot in the context of the startup I am working on, so more on this in the future.
Of course we dearly miss all of the friends we left behind. At least we got to meet some of them in the December onslaught of visits. It was our first time experiencing this from the local side and the breathless scheduling, jetlags and general craziness was a bit amusing. It’s nice to be able to leave all that behind at least.
Looking at the bigger picture, our life in Israel in 2016 is missing a critical ingredient — hope for the long-term future. When we lived in the U.S, we generally operated under the assumption that the future will be better and our lives will improve over time as we worked hard at it. Most importantly, we could imagine a good life for our children down the road. We didn’t spend time actually mapping out that long-term future but we could easily imagine it with an optimistic bias. This baseline belief in a better future for our children is sorely missing for moderate, secular people in Israel in 2016. The political atmosphere is one of extremism and fear-based aggression. The dark side of religion, with its irrational and discriminating (often racist) paradigm, is rearing its ugly head on both the Jewish and Arab sides and threatening to over-power any chance for sustainable and mutually-beneficial co-existence. When the prime minister of Israel publicly talks about surrounding Israel with fences to ‘defend against the wild beasts’, it hard not to see the fear-mongering for what it is. Now, like my father likes to point out, this may be a global trend (Donald Trump seems to be riding a similar wave in the U.S right now), but then again Trump is not president just yet…
On to some lighter and happier subjects — living in Israel afforded me the pleasure of returning to France for the traditional ski-with-the-guys week-long getaway. We enjoyed it like we were 20 again (although our bodies kept reminding us we are not 20 anymore). After a week of deep snow, good meals and great company, we returned home safely and uninjured, with no options but to start planning next year’s trip.
Oh and it’s a girl! (sigh of relief)
I can’t believe we’re about to plunge into the craziness/sleeplessness once again.
Until next time…