I have never had the pleasure of being in Israel during the winter months, so naturally I was not mentally or physically prepared for the very cold weather we seem to be experiencing. I don't know why I can't remember many winters, but every time I try to compare this cold to the cold of Berkeley or Palm Springs winters, I can't seem to really remember. I have no problem remember the 115 degree summer days in Palm Springs, and I don't have a problem remembering the cold and rainy summers in Berkeley, but I don't have many solid memories of winters, other than I would love to stay inside, snuggle up with a nice cup of tea, and watch movies to my hearts content. Maybe it is because this is the first winter, in a long time, where I have been completely alone (no family, no boyfriend, etc.) and that is why I am focusing on it more, or maybe it is because I am a desert girl who loves her hot summers, but for whatever reason, the cold and dreariness has taken some getting used to.
With that said, however, today was a beautiful break from the general sadness that seems to accompany winter. I had my first private Spoken Arabic lesson today and to get there I had to walk about 20 minutes into neighboring Givatayim. As I have come to sadly discover, the presence of sun does not mean warmth in the months of November and December, so I wasn't too excited when I woke up to a bright blue sky. I dressed in my normal jeans, long sleeve shirt, scarf, socks and boots, and headed downstairs to start my journey to Givatayim. When I stepped outside I was immediately struck by the warmth of the sun! I couldn't believe it and was so happy. I doesn't take much to excite me and a warm day in the midst of very cold ones was all it took. I ripped off my scarf, rolled up my sleeves, and wished for nothing more than the time to be able to just lay outside enjoying this weather. Luckily I had a long walk to soak it all in and it was amazing.
The lesson itself was absolutely fantastic. I had a long night yesterday (all you can drink margaritas... that's all I have to say about that!) and wasn't so excited about having to wake up early for a tutoring session, but the moment I spoke my first few Arabic words there was a new, fresh breath of life breathed into me. I couldn't ask for anything more wonderful than an hour of doing nothing but speaking in Arabic. We watched film clips, listened to some songs, talked about various subjects from class to when I used to live in Jerusalem, and I was surprised at all that I actually remembered. I don't know why I am so shy about using Hebrew when I will make the biggest fool out of myself if it only means more chances to speak Arabic. One of the things my teacher asked me was why I came to Israel and didn't go to Lebanon or Jordan or even Syria. I told him that those are all places I want to go and visit, but Israel is where I wanted to live. You can't get any better than a state that combines two aspects that completely define you... Jewish and Arab :-)
After the lesson I was really looking forward to the nice, long walk back. Aside from the gorgeous weather, I have really learned to value the time I spend walking, or riding the bus, where I can take time to put my ipod in and lose myself in my thoughts for a few minutes. To get home I have to walk through a park and this was the first time I really felt like I was totally at home. Call it an epiphany or what you will, but I just stopped, looked up at my beautiful apartment building, and thought to myself: "This is home".
|My building from the park behind|
|The park by my house|
|The park on this gorgeous day|
I don't know if it is just the natural process of "growing up", or if it is something else, but making a home and a life for myself independent of my family and the comforts of home is a very powerful thing, and it has taught me so much about myself. To quote my amazing sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, I am becoming a "Real, Strong, (Independent), Woman", and there is nothing better than knowing that anything I want out of life I can get for myself. Now I just need to work on the PhD and the Israeli husband and I'll be totally set :-D!
Until we meet again <3,