January 27th marked 35 years since I left Israel, my childhood home.
When I was asked by a friend: “How does this feel?” I found myself answering: Like a mosaic, or a collage. I never thought of it this way before, and it made me ponder what components would such a collage have if I were to make one?
Images begun flooding my mind’s eye:
My Romanian birth certificate. A picture of the boat, aboard which my parents and I emigrated to Israel when I was three years old. Kindergarten pictures from Jerusalem, where we settled. First day at school. My newborn brother in my arms, age seven.
Snapshots from family trips and school field trips all over Israel. My first best friend, Yifat, and the different BFF that followed in subsequent years. Timmi, my beloved dog. My Israeli ID card, issued when I turned 16. Bits of my writings for school newsletters in various grades.
The statutory army photos from my days in the Israeli military, in which I was required to serve by law for two years, after graduating high school. College days snapshots from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Bits of poems I wrote and published.
My mother’s funeral, when I was 24
Consciousness-shaping moments from my days at Neveh Shalom/Wahat Al Salaam School for Peace, where I trained and led reconciliation workshops between Jewish and Arab folk.
The various Jerusalem apartments I rented and the one I bought, only to find myself leaving the country a year later.
The airplane which took me to the U.K. “for 1 year” in 1987. The “squat” in South London where I lived communally with Loredana from Italy, AnnMarie, Carry, and Bernice from Ireland, Maria from Spain, Noga and Etti from Israel. The Fish & Chip shop in North London where I first landed a job, and Greenwich College where I loved working as a trainer.
The many London parks I roamed with friends as we all bundled up in thick coats, scarves, and gloves. The “Lunatic Fringe” hair salon where I cut off my long hair on a whim, allowing a new me to emerge. Snapshots from meetings of the weekly Gurdjieff ‘Work’ group where I begun my spiritual journey, and where I met Julian, my soulmate of 31 years now.
The photo of yet another airplane, which carried Julian and I over the ocean to begin (yet another) new life in California, in our early thirties. Our first home in San Diego. Our walks on the beach. The various restaurants where our Palates were Wowed time and again. The hot springs we loved to soak in. The women’s circles I was part of. The drumming circles. The friends we made.
Our rented home on the Russian River, Northern California, in which we were stranded for five days during the 1995 floods, ten days after we moved there from San Diego. The gigantic flood-water pond that surrounded us as we looked wide-eyed from our second-floor patio, standing only 2 inches above our garage with both our cars under water, spotting the street sign barely visible above water line.
The few Sonoma County homes in which we lived since. The trees we planted, the gardens we grew. The living room where our daughter was born in water on October 6, 2000. The community of friends we are part of. The ocean, and the countryside of Sonoma County we’ve been calling home for over 25 years now.
I may never get to making that collage, but it exists in my mind’s eye and lives in my cellular memory, straddling four continents and three languages. Given it is not planted in the soil of any one country, it likely belongs to the Air Plant family (of which orchids are one) that don’t use their roots for nutrients, but for anchoring only. Like orchids, I am content to have Air Roots…