One of the most obvious drawbacks of making aliyah is that you will leave your family and friends, many of the people you love most in this world. But not only do these people give you the most emotional support in your life, they often provide the physical support you don’t even realize you need. This post is dedicated to the most independent person I have come to know these past thirteen months- myself. Now before you go thinking, “This narcissistic brat. Who does she think she is, calling herself the most independent?” I implore you to read on and let me explain.
I did not move to Israel after high school. I did not move after college, nor even after grad school. I did not move after my first time leaving home. I left as a full-fledged “adulting” adult. So when I moved, I never thought of myself as anything other than a mature, together, self-sufficient woman. Boy, was I wrong. My first few months here I couldn’t have really even known. I was living in ulpan, with all my basic needs and schedule taken care of, going about my business with my errands and tasks keeping me busy. It wasn’t until I moved out and on my own that I realized how essentially alone I was out here. I never realized how much I actually depended on people back in NYC to help me in tiny little ways.
If I needed furniture moved or fixed, my dad was always right there. If I needed to pick up a notebook or cardigan, my mom would gladly get it for me on her next Target run. If I needed a ride to the airport at 3AM, my little sister would do it with a yawn and a smile. And if I needed anything else, I knew there was an assortment of lifelong friends, willing and able to help out. This is not the case here in Israel. When I needed my disaster of a couch fixed for the umpteenth time, and the guy who said he’d help me stopped answering my texts, I starting eating cereal on a folding chair. When I need a notebook or cardigan, I schlep my weary body to Max Stock or Castro after work and I get it myself. When I need a ride to the airport, I undergo the brutal abuse that is calling Nesher (cab-share service) and allow them to berate me in aggressive Hebrew and then drop me off 4 hours before my flight. And for anything else, I weigh how much I really need it versus the discomfort of asking a new friend for help if I don’t really, truly need it.
Let me give you an example of my new-found independence that just occurred this week. I have been in the market for a small cabinet for months. I have been following all the buying, swapping and selling in various Facebook groups to find the right size at the right price. Finally, a friend was giving one away! But how to transport it? I called a few friends who reminded me “hi, we don’t have cars either!” Then I called someone I’m quite close with who didn’t have the time/didn’t want to (we’re still close, but it was touch and go) I called and called various friends until I had to let her give the cabinet to someone else. I realized in that moment that in America: my dad could have helped me move it, my mom could have bought me one from IKEA, and I myself could have heaved it into my own car. Here in Israel- nothing. You may ask- why didn’t you take a cab? Excellent question! Fact is, I couldn’t stomach getting ripped off and paying more for the 3 minute ride than the cabinet was worth. So sue me. Finally, yesterday, I found a cabinet! It’s made of plastic (meh) and the size and price were right. I decided to do this alone.