When you’re 22 and pick up and move to another country with a minimum 9-hour flight time, you’re really not thinking about 18 years later when the other shoe drops.
The first shoe dropped when you had your first kid, and realized how hard it is to have added yet another family member to the condition of forced long distance relationships. The second shoe is when you have nieces/nephews abroad because other family members didn’t stop growing and milestoning while you’re gone, and now you realize you also robbed yourself of the opportunity for year-round blood relative bonding, along with everyone else you’ve robbed.
Aliyah is a million cuts. A million slices of distance – physical, mental, emotional. A million bandaids that, even when falling off, leave that residue and take even longer to forget, if you ever can.
Sometimes the cuts are hit or miss – you’ll miss a good friend’s bachelorette party or a high school reunion or an in-person shiva call. Sometimes the cuts are trivial, even – you’ll just get nostalgic about a meetup or party you would have totally gone to if you were in town. Sometimes the cuts are downright morbid; perhaps a terror attack happens to another aliyah family and you think – they didn’t have to live here, right? We chose this… are we constantly tempting fate?
But we did have to live here. We do. We are this. Like being in love with someone, sometimes you have no choice – you ride it out, sometimes it fades, and sometimes it never does because that’s just who you are now.
And so the cuts hurt, and they remain. Most of the time you wince from the pain and move on – you have a life to live, we all do.
Sometimes, they hurt more. And no matter the confessions, the creative alternatives, the trying to defend against ‘out of sight out of mind’ – the cuts are there, under anything representing surface.
Aliyah, by a million lifelong cuts.