My decision to leave Tel Aviv on the first available flight out wasn't a difficult one to make. It was easy because I knew that it was the right thing to do at the time. Sometimes the best decisions have a way of making themselves.
In the aftermath of my little summer adventure, I've been asked by my friends and family what has become of my relationship with JJB. For those of you who know the intimate details of the affair, I won't bore you or leave you aghast with some sordid, self-obsessed internet disclosure. If I really needed to do this, then I would hope that at least one of you would direct me to the first available psychotherapist. But, for those of you still left wondering, I will say this:
Last week, I finally unpacked the last of my summer travel gear. It's funny to note how small remnants of my time in Israel are subtly injected in my present life. For example, I now have a small collection of restaurant match boxes from the non-kosher place where JJB and I loved most. Every time I light a candle, I am reminded of the flourless chocolate cake that made me weak in the knees, or the wine from the Golan that made me fall in love with the soil of this place with every sip. Additionally, I have a rather formidable collection of Ahava skin care products, which are considerably cheaper in Israel than they are in the States. Every time I use the Dead Sea mud mask, I am reminded of the day that JJB covered ourselves in mud, and he took pictures of me doing cartwheels on the Dead Sea. Finally, I'm still wearing the fantastic pair of jeans that I bought while I was there. Every time I put them on, I lament the fact that I can't do all of my clothes shopping in Israel. There was nothing better than telling a sales lady that I want new jeans, and have her bring me the exact size and cut for my body. This resulted in such a pleasant venture that I know will never, ever, ever find replication in the realm of jeans shopping so long as I may live. God bless that woman, wherever she is today.
Beyond material stuff, certain things that went to Israel stayed in Israel. And certain things that went on in Israel stayed there, too. The one thing that I learned from JJB is that there are just some things that will never be able to come home with us. They are too big to pack, and far too heavy to carry. We just have to leave them behind. However, beyond silly match boxes, designer face lotions, and great jeans, the last material thing that I wish to mention is the silver necklace and charm that I continue to wear as a result of these small wanderings. On our last day together, JJB helped be buy it in the sook in Tel Aviv. As he pinched the clasp shut at my neck, he said that he hoped that the necklace would remind me of him, and that I would wear it forever. What he didn't know is that I wanted the necklace for other reasons, which had nothing to do with him. The reasons were my own.
The charm is a well-known Jewish symbol of "chai", which means "life" or "living" in Hebrew. I continue to wear it today, not because I necessarily need a reminder of JJB, but because my time in Israel reminded me of a valuable choice that I continue to make every day. Every day, I wake up and remind myself that I choose life. In fact, living in Israel taught me that I could be dead tomorrow, and so it's important to live today. Thus, I choose to live to the best of my ability, to be grateful, to practice kindness, to be patient, to take the lessons (both good and uncomfortable), and never fail to have a good laugh...
Life. It's a choice to wear it, as well as a choice to embrace it. Like I said, sometimes the best decisions have a way of making themselves.
In the meantime, thanks everyone, for keeping up with my retrospective trials and tribulations. L'Chaim...