I am usually pretty good at reading people. I can tell when someone is quietly happy with unspoken good news or in a storm of thoughts inside their head. But every once in a while, I’m so totally far off that it shocks me on how I could miss the subtle ques. Tonight was one of those nights.
There is a young man here on the ulpan. He is only spending the first half with us and then goes to the IDF to serve as a foreign volunteer (he hasn’t made aliyah yet). He is very well liked, does well in his studies and by all accounts has a wonderful life. So it took me by surprise tonight when he joked about being depressed in our little smokers group. The group took it as a joke since he is usually upbeat and smiling. But I could immediately see what I was blind to since he arrived. He wasn’t joking and needed to talk to someone about it. So after dinner, he and I sat for a good amount of time. He hasn’t gone to see a professional about this but has been in a ‘funk’ for the past 8 months. This isn’t his first time in a funk but he doesn’t know what to do or how to handle things. I listened as he went through so many things that I too felt. It was very interesting to be able to share my story with him for many reasons. The first reason it was interesting is because of his reaction. He said something along the lines of ‘see, you and other people have it so far worse. I shouldn’t feel so bad – my life is so good.’ I tried to explain to him that we can’t control how we feel. He is feeling depressed. That is just how it is and he shouldn’t compare himself to others. The only thing any of us can do is control how we respond to this illness.
Another reason I found this conversation interesting is that I haven’t really been able to talk in depth about depression with someone else who has it and is also able to have intellectual thoughts on the subject along side their feelings. (Not that I can everyday either.) It is hard to describe how this feeling felt for me, but it was a bit like coming out as queer for the first time. “There is someone else like me out there!” In a sick and twisted way, it was liberating and exhilarating. While neither of us can help the other in any professional or long-lasting manner, we can at least relate to the feelings that are so often too hard to describe to others and too foreign for others to understand. I mean, to say to someone that their happiness literally sends me into a weeks long depression just sounds insane. But to someone who has been there, they can relate. They know that, as an individual, I want nothing but the best for my friends and the people around me. But I just can’t be there for them while they dance around the building as they glow in new-found love (this happened just minutes ago).
I’m off to bed now, but I wanted to write this down first. More for me to reread later but I hope you get something out of this too.
“We come to our Homeland in order to be planted in our natural soil from which we have been uprooted, to strike our roots deep into its life-giving substances, and to stretch out our branches in the sustaining and creating air and sunlight of the Homeland… We, who have been torn away from nature, who have lost the savor of natural living – if we desire life, we must establish a new relationship with nature; we must open a new account with it.”
– A.D. Gordon (1856-1922), spiritual leader of the pioneers of the Second Aliyah
Yep, I really miss my crazy, dysfunctional, absurd family.
Avicii – Hey Brother (Lyric): http://youtu.be/YxIiPLVR6NA
I grew up in Florida. If you spend time there, you’ll learn that you can set your watch to the afternoon showers in summer. They usually don’t last long but the come on quick and strong. The winters are dry and the sky is picturesque blue almost as a rule. Here in Israel, the seasons are reversed with wet winters and dry summers.
This winter was unusually dry in Israel but we have had a few days of late reprieves. Tonight the sky opened up and we have been entertained by a light and sound show put on by the heavens. It reminds me of the storms back home. These storms make me happy but also remind me how much I miss my family. I know I’m where I am supposed to be, but I hope I get to the point very soon that I can plan on flyng to the ‘States on a yearly basis.
I love the mornings here. I’m usually up before everyone else. That first morning cigarette on our front porch is an amazing thing. The birds are all already up and singing away. The sun shines gently on my face. The breeze blows with just the faintest feel of the salty sea air from the nearby Mediterranean.
With all the crazy things going on here (like my roommate having sex again a mere two feet from me while I’m trying to get to sleep), mornings have a way of pressing pause. Even if for just 5 or 10 minutes, I am whisked away to another type of Israel. The real, grown person Israel. It is a beautiful thing.
I have some new goals I want to write down: go for a run everyday except for shabbat. Write a post every day. Learn to play harmonica.
Now to bitch (because I want to get this out without causing shit to hit the fan around here). I had a great time back in the real world this weekend. I was hoping that my high from the land of adults would allow me to make it at least through a week in this play-pen of crappy children. But alas, I’ve been back less than 20 hours and already have issues that need to be addressed. Namely, the fact that hard liquor isn’t allowed in the ulpan building – led alone the rooms. And yet my very special, very large, very immature roommate decided he was going to load up his supply. Being that I was trying to be nice, I put off my afternoon nap so that the 4pm party he decided to have could run its course. But around 5, when it was just my two roommates and one other, I went in and got into bed. Since they clearly couldn’t be bothered, they kept things up. After 15 minutes or so, they thought I was asleep and the special one started whispering about how he has to hide his stash before I get up. Then he called his mother and had to tell her that he is no longer allowed in class (side note: I’m on kibbutz ulpan. The goal of this is to learn hebrew in a kibbutz environment. And in that order). He can now either move to eilat and work in the hotels, move to tel aviv and be on his own, or stay here and just work 6 days a week. He decided to stay here. So I now have 4 of the most important months of my life to live with an entitled little shit who doesn’t want to learn the language of his new country. I have to be the asshole who has to break up parties so I can sleep at night or I have report him and have him removed. No win. And I have asked him on multiple times to be more respectful. But literally each time it ends with him literally yelling at me. So I’m done with that.
So I’ve been a citizen just 1 month and 1 week and now I have my first weekend getaway under my belt. Things were getting a bit too ridiculous on the kibbutz (I was actually yelled at by my roommate for asking him to get rid of that moldy coffee…). So I made a quick trip just an hour south to Jaffo (older city just south of Tel Aviv, but really they have enveloped each other and TA has won the name race for the most part). I stayed with two friends I made almost 3 years ago from Lotan, Shaya and Adar. They are two amazing guys who really know how to put a person at ease. We had some amazing meals at their apartment, had a great night out at a couple of bars, GOT TO SLEEP IN, and walked around Old Jaffa today. It is amazing how 36 hours can just put your mind right back where it needs to be.
Also, I’ve decided I need to focus more on loosing my extra American weight. And that I want to learn how to play the harmonica.