Usually when I touch down in JFK, flying over Queens at dawn, I get teary-eyed and patriotic for my hometown. I’ve been pretty emotional about New York since I left; even before I left.
Maybe it’s because I landed here today coming off the Presidents Conference, or maybe it’s been a year and four months since I’ve last visited, or maybe it’s all the changes I’ve undergone since last time I was in New York… But as soon as I saw the straight rows of yellow lights lining Far Rockaway from over the wing of the plane, I don’t know. I wasn’t feeling it. I missed the chaos of Jerusalem streets. I thought about the forest I live in, the bare roads I take to get to work. The green, the brown, the blue, the white.
Usually when I get into my parents’ car our of JFK, driving through Queens and Brooklyn, I get culture-shocked in awe of the bigness, the vastness that I have so quickly forgotten in three and a half years.
Maybe it’s because I have really built a quality life for myself, or maybe it’s because I’m doing more there in Israel than I ever imagined I’d be doing in the New York daily grind, or maybe it’s because in Israel, every single moment seems to count for something… But as soon as we passed the giant shopping centers, when I saw the first advertisements off the highway, and after viewing jeep after 4×4 after four wheel drive… I don’t know. I’m not feeling it. I just start to feel really bad for people living here.
Have I turned my motherland into a place for fun shopping? A place to be in awe, but in a not so comfortable way? And wouldn’t that make sense, that she did it to herself? Staring at these over sized products, overgrown people, at these American phenomena…
I’m interested to see how this develops over the next week and a half that I’m visiting New York. Is this a no-turning-back point for me in my aliyah or perhaps in my self-imposed American exile? Is this something we all acquire with age? Or with stepping back?
If nothing else, I am really enjoying walking barefoot over carpet and inhaling the fresh smell of hardwood floors.