Leaving New York City.

I returned on Tuesday from a trip to New York. It was a family visit with some work mixed in, and it came at a time when I was starting to feel a bit… hungry for New York. Not homesick, per say, but just in the mood.

I don’t know if it happens to all olim who travel back frequently, or if it’s just me, but this trip was different. Usually, I let myself fantasize, considering all the pros and cons of moving back to New York City and then tally them up, leading me to feel a bit sad coming back to Israel. Not that I would have wanted to return necessarily, but it’s a feeling of being torn in two directions.

Wouldn’t my job be so much more fun in NYC? I’d have the best ice cream flavors to choose from. The little things are so much cheaper – hell, the bigger things are so much cheaper, too. Bookstores stocked with an endless English supply. Customer service!

This time – I dunno. The cons kept stacking up. The ads on TV. The amount of choices in the supermarket. The crowds of people. The stories in the news. The politics. The elevator coldness. The avoiding eye contact.

It seems like everything is so much more complicated than it has to be. I think I’ve seriously decomplicated my life, living here in Israel.

Then there is always that one major complication I’ve created, making life endlessly harder – leaving my family and creating a situation of long distance relationships to live by.

I’m still dealing with that one. I think I always will be.

Coming, going.

In the past four weeks, I’ve heard about a total of five actual (three)  and potential (two) yeridot – leaving Israel after making aliyah.

I’m not necessarily homesick, so the news doesn’t really hit me that way. It’s more like this this bizarre feeling of, am I doing something wrong? Is there something I don’t see?

I know; backwards, right?

People ask me why I live here, why I’m still here. I don’t have an academic answer. I’m happy. Well, not a juicy answer, anyway. I love my job. I like my town. I met my husband here, and we’re in an international marriage. I’m more comfortable living this stage of my life in a Jewish country.

It’s a laundry list, folded in half: pros, cons. I think it’s a laundry list for everyone. If it’s ideology, I don’t necessary believe that’s the whole picture. Ideology can only take you as far as… ideology.

Family. Jobs. Security. Religion. Money. Education.

Everyone has their reason for coming, and for going.

Bodies.

I think I can say now with certainty that death is different once you’ve created life.

Somehow, unfortunately, I’ve been to two funerals since Koala was born. One was just a few months after, a year ago; the funeral of a 12-year-old girl. The second was tonight, the funeral of a middle-aged mom.

Bodies. When they are formed, bodies take up space in other bodies. When they are born, new bodies encompass all the life of any other body. They contain the code for continued living. They are the most valuable thing a person has. They are the only thing. They are people.

Until the life of a body is taken away. I can’t help but think, as I watch a burial, that with removing something as invisible as breath, you can make a person into a body. A lifeless encasement that’s been emptied of its contents which made it invaluable.

It doesn’t matter what you believe happens after. Whatever religion tells you, it doesn’t matter at a burial. A person after death – all we know for sure at that moment is that there is a body.

The biggest fear I live with these days, since creating a living body, is the thought that someone I love might end up a lifeless one.

Yeah, this still happens.

I was driving through the entrance of Beitar today.

Ahead of me was the shiny white glow of the expansive charedi town, speckled with black movement.

Behind me, in my rear view mirror, I could see the remnants of the sun facing Husan, highlighted by the giant minaret cracking the sky.

And I thought, what the fuck am I doing here?

Adapting to new life.

The Koala isn’t the only newbie around here. It’s hit me in the last week that I am a new person. It’s been a short process (36 hour labor) and a long process (it’s about a year since I found out I was pregnant).  But here I am, changed.

I’m a mother. I’m a food source. I’m a caregiver.

I’ve got, for better or worse, a forever-altered body.

I’m paying the bills while being challenged daily as a WAHM.

I have a new sixth sense that is always at work, whether I’m awake, on a different floor of the house, or asleep.

I have everything to lose, and if I did lose everything, I would never be the same.

I’m already not the same.

My relationships have altered. I don’t know if the other halves of these relationships realize it. Resent it. Care either way. I don’t know yet if I do.

I’m tired. I’m anxious. I’m in love I can’t control.

I want to take my Koala and fly away but I want to take my Koala and hide right here.

I’m riding a rollercoaster that started when I was born, only now, I’m climbing up to the highest drop. I thought previously that the highest drop was childbirth – the physical transition from person to parent – but now I know that wasn’t it.

I’m at the top, peering down. The highest drop takes you to a place where you are making sure he isn’t choking on a grape; avoiding physique-altering car accidents; advising on keeping away from the bullies; working toward ‘enough to eat’; looking over your shoulder to make sure he’s still behind you; dodging diseases; checking for breathing…

It’s overwhelming.

But now it’s me.

Being a mom.

At this point in my life I’ve known two too many 12-year-old girls who have fought cancer and lost.

The first time I was a kid. This time I’m a mom.

Being a mom at a shiva call for a kid makes all the difference.

There’s something about kids with cancer where they tend to have this bravery, this independance, a higher emotional intellect… It’s probably intense to watch up close and it’s fascinating to hear a parent describe it afterwards.

But we should never know.

Life in snippets.

Time is going by cliche fast. You hear it and you hear it and then it happens to you. The Koala is nearly four months old. I’m nearly four months not-pregnant. The Koala smiles, laughs, plays. My maternity leave is over and I’m juggling work and baby.

I’ve slowed down with updates here, of course. Typing a post with one hand isn’t easy, and typing a post with only the left hand is even harder.

But alas.

That’s why I’ve been doing so much updating in snippets on a convenient and too-popular snippet-publishing website you probably know by another name.

So, in short (or 140 characters or less) here is a not-so-brief list of some of the thoughts that have been floating in between my ears of late:

awesome: being able to say “I’m hungry” and not have everyone make comments like, “Preggo!” “Oh, you’re so pregnant!” “Cravings!!!” Aug 12

just set up the bath one handed. this is going to be the first bath I give alone… but team smushcheeks can handle it. Aug 11th

rocks: when you get a new scale and find out you’ve really been a kilo less this whole time. perhaps every day we should buy a new scale. Aug 9th

if I may say so myself, I need my own kids’ tv show. yes, I am that good at making up songs. Aug 4th

baby is asleep. checking my Outlook at the kitchen table. welcome back to work, me. Aug 2nd

he laughs. he laughs! Aug 1st

last of the maternity clothes into storage. so when will my jeans not only fit in the morning but also after dinner? Jul 2nd

ok going to the dentist is officially worse than giving birth. Jul 1st

this one’s a kicker. always has been. Jun 30th

it’s almost creepy the way this baby and I operate on a totally biological, subconscious level. Jun 26th

he’s lickin’ me. Jun 25th

yes, I’d like to think he’s looking deep into my eyes, but really, I know the truth. he’s staring down my shirt.#boobobsessionstartsatbirth Jun 25th

sucks when you have a great feed and then he spits it all right back up. is that equal to ‘pumping and dumping’?#thanksbutnothanksmom Jun 25th

in a world like this, it feels lucky to be a mom with her son safe and sound. thinking of #gilad ‘s mom. Jun 25th

…let the drooling begin! #babydrooliscuteuntilyouredrowninginit Jun 24th

me + crackers + hunger+ baby bjorn + hairy head = sorry about the crumbs, kid. Jun 24th

so… I’m already loving his toys more than he does. Jun 22nd

hands free… good for baby, great for mommy.#preparingforshabbatjustgoteasierthanksbabybjorn Jun 19th

it’s like a hitchcock movie. you put him down in one spot and check on him later and he’s moved across the crib somehow… Jun 11th

here’s hoping for a better night tonight. so far it’s 2-0 since the great tomato tragedy and I’m getting my ass kicked. Jun 3rd

how do they know to poop RIGHT after you changed them? is it another infant reflex? Jun 2nd

can’t help but laugh when he seals his lips when done eating. it’s like, nope. not getting in there. Jun 2nd

ur a mom when, after almost running over a kitten, u look at ur newborn in the back & deal w/ pangs of guilt. soft, soft, soft. Jun 1st

it’s time. he’s five weeks old. it’s time to teach the boy about Billy Joel and the Rolling Stones. May 31st

breastfeeding on demand -> burnt quinoa. oh well. May 25th

four weeks old today! four weeks ago today I was doing… what??? from where??? May 24th

the definition of ‘weekend’ is now having two parents at home all day instead of one… which is a true vacation at this point. May 21st

being mom to a newborn is starting a salad an hour and a half ago and just now sitting down to it. every. day. May 19th

new reason for twitter: tracking my days with bebe so at the end I can recall what I did that day… they grow up so fast! May 11th

poop is the new black. May 10th