I’m cleaning out the email so I’m posting a bunch of blog posts I started as emails to myself. Most will probably be private, but this one I wrote to post:
So here we are, Thursday night in Madera California. Monday I slept almost the whole day, Tuesday I slept half a day and Wednesday I finally went out and walked around. It was interesting to say the least. Mitch offered me his living room to crash and I didn’t even google or look up anything about this place – I just knew it was near Fresno which is a city I heard of. I assumed it was all kinda close and connected. Turns out, I’m in the suburb. So Wednesday was a bit of a culture shock since I was only in cities or kibbutzim in Israel. I spent the day walking around to find city hall, DMV, credit unions and other things. Nothing really got accomplished as at each place one thing or another was missing that I needed. And by the end of the day, I was just confused and a bit depressed. I was also shocked at the huge but empty roads without any sidewalks or public transportation as well as the rampant homeless people. I ended the day thinking this whole America return was a big mistake. Today I spent most of the day in bed watching Netflix. But then I went for a walk around the rather large block that took 45 minutes in total.
The idea behind the walk was just to get some exercise so I didn’t fall into depression again. But I soon came across a retention pond and the amazing sound of frogs just after dark singing their hypnotic songs. I had to pause my music and it took me back to late summer nights in Florida. Then, just a bit further down the road, my nose was filled with the smell of a backyard fire. It was something I hadn’t smelled in more than five years. There is a holiday in Israel where we burn bread as Passover comes in, but that isn’t the same smell. And again I was transported back to years gone by.
As the smell slowly faded with each side road, I came across a high school with a marching band practicing. The thuds and rhythms were almost war like hearing them now but they brought me straight back to Brandon High or the practice field at FSU. A version of home brought on by the senses of experiences past but now colored with a new hue of why those traditions started all those centuries ago when young men marched off to kill others. This wasn’t a sad moment, just a strange new way of seeing a strange memory.
The last sensory change was coming back into the apartment complex. Someone had their washing machine going. The smell brought me back to the Dudding’s house with their ever loving grandmother who always must have had a load in the washer as that unmistakable and amazing smell was always washing over us.
These sounds and smells all brought me back to this place, this country and society. It is comforting and warm and welcoming.
And yet, there is something that is still missing. Something that isn’t quiet right here. The play of shadows and lights between the dark streets and bright car headlights was disorienting and I even had a jump fright at one particular shadow as it sped past me in an imagined but all too real aggressive manner. Where am I? Do I belong here?
There was an article I read a few years ago that I wish I could find now. It talked about how an American moved to Israel and then years later moved back to America. It wasn’t easy for her and she ended up coming back to Israel. But no country was the same the second time around. And she ended the article with an almost longing emptiness. She had two homes and yet none at all. I feel like that right now. I am afraid of being here. I am seeing all the things that drove me away the first time. But what waits for me back in Israel? Will things ever be the same? And will I ever find the place that I want to call my home and settle down in? Who knows?