You call it scary, I call it home

Yeah, yeah – I know. The Middle East is fucked up. And I live smack dab in the middle of it. I get it, I live a tumultuous country, especially now that there is currently a flood of news reports about the “Israeli Palestinian Conflict.”

I’m not gonna go on a political rant here (ok, maybe I will but I’ll keep it short) but what the fuck. Imagine that you’re on your way to work, minding your own business when suddenly you are faced with an attacker holding a knife. Your punishment is death – the crime? being Israeli. Obviously once an attacker is caught, he is shot (whether to be absolutely sure that he is neutralized or because of an eye-for-an-eye mentality I can’t say). Then the international news goes on to report that you, the victim were the cause for incitement and that the attacker was some bystander who was shot and killed. Not only is that false  reporting (looking at you, CNN) but it’s completely infuriating to see. Whatever, that’s besides the point. I’d also like to mention that I stay aware of my surroundings and have never once felt anything but safe.

On that note, I’d like to point out that life goes on. My cousin this morning told me that the news alerts of attacks are less shocking to her each time they happen – that you have no choice but to get “used to it” as much as you can.

I expected that moving here would be complicated. I never expected that moving here would mean that I would be put in situations where I am asked to give up my sanity, my livelihood and my sense of security. That is simply not an option. When you love something, whether it be a place, a person or whatever, you recognize the flaws. You accept them. Then you move forward.

Which brings me to my main point of this post: that throughout all of this stress, all of the turmoil, I had that feeling a few nights ago. That feeling you get when you suddenly realize that you have reached most of your goals and that you’re pretty damn proud of yourself.

Walking home from my second week at a new job, I realized that wow, I’ve really accomplished a lot. I moved to a new country. I learned a new language. I experienced real love with an amazing guy. I made great friends. I found a job, twice. I found an apartment, also twice. I found out who I am.

The past two and a half years have taught me not just how to get my shit together, but how to manage it too. And I never would have had the chance to experience these perfect things if not for me being in this turbulent and messy country that I love so very much.

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Pay attention

As some of you may have read, Israel experienced a terror attack last week. A young man boarded a busy bus during rush hour traffic on a typical weekday, filled with commuters and kids – people going about their daily business. However, this man had different daily business to take care of. He carried a knife with him and, deciding upon the “right” moment, he started attacking anyone and everyone near him. The aftermath left 16 people injured, some of them severely, himself included.

Needless to say, the Israeli population has been very alert since then. People are aware of everything. They listen and they pay close attention (even more so than their usual eavesdropping).

Earlier in the week, I was on the bus on my way to work. It was a typical bus ride on a typical weekday. The bus was full of people commuting to work, kids making their way to school – people going about their daily business.

So on my typical bus ride to work, when a woman made a sudden gasping noise, the whole bus turned silent and looked to see what was going on. Within seconds it became clear that she was not in danger but was, in fact, laughing uncontrollably. The tension relaxed, the girl continued trembling with laughter and us every-day-bus-goers exchanged smiles with one another. It was a truly amazing moment where we all took step back, loosened up and laughed with total strangers. What would have been a too-long bus ride turned into an amazing lesson: Smiling > Panicking. Joy > Fear.

You can’t control what happens around you. Sometimes you are unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and there’s nothing you can do about that. But sometimes, you see something that changes your perspective. I am still horrified to know that a man woke up one day planning to take as many lives as possible, but I also know that when you see something funny, you have to give yourself the chance to laugh. A knife can turn a bus full of people into panicked and traumatized victims, but a simple giggle fit can transform them into lighthearted and cheerful people.