Before I begin my (admittedly late) Rosh Hashanah post, I must send my congratulations from afar to one of my oldest and dearest friends, Holly. It seems like just yesterday we were silly schoolgirls playing pranks and goofing off. But today you became a mother, and my heart is bursting. I am sad I cannot be by your side as you begin this next chapter, but my joy for you far outweighs that. Mazal tov, to you and Mike. I can't wait to meet your beautiful little boy.
Last week I celebrated the Jewish New Year in Jerusalem with my Israeli friends. We learned about the holiday traditions, ate a delicious meal together (thanks Na'ama and Ari!), and then spent time sharing the highs and lows of the past year as well as our hopes for the year ahead.
For me, the highs and lows seem to have come side by side. Change is always difficult for me, and this last year has been rife with change and uncertainty. Living and studying in Israel has been a dream of mine since I first visited this country in 2005, even though I knew it would be scary and difficult to leave my friends and family. After spending some time working and living in Boston after school, this year seemed like the right time to pursue a higher degree (if I wanted a chance at employment other than nannying or admin work, grad school was an imperative). The road that led me to Tel Aviv University was long and winding, and after four years of living on my own I found myself hauling all of my worldly possessions back to my parents' house in Erie for an indefinite period of waiting to find out if I could attend school overseas or if I would have to start from square one- literally.
Living with your parents again is not any young adult's ideal- I had no income, no car, and was living in a town that hadn't been my permanent residence since I graduated high school. But lo and behold! The Lord blessed me with the opportunity to rebuild relationships with childhood friends, and the gift of spending five whole weeks of quality time with my mom and dad before I would spend a whole year further away from them than I'd ever been. This unexpected time at home was a real high point in my year- and a gift I will always be grateful for. It was during these weeks that I learned my dreams of moving to Israel would come true- WIN! This was definitely another high point in my year...hell, in my life. However, the same news meant I would have to begin saying my goodbyes. Bidding farewell to my friends and especially my family was probably the most difficult thing I have done in a long time. Low, big low.
Since moving (you may have noticed) I've been on a bit of a roller coaster- I am so happy to be here in Israel, and loving it more every day...but I also am missing home a great deal, and it's definitely been lonely. School won't begin for another few weeks, and until then my social options are limited. While I've enjoyed exploring Tel Aviv, hanging out on the beach, and studying the language... there is only so much that one can do alone before the loneliness and boredom become overwhelming (highs and lows...) Today was a microcosm of this roller coaster- this morning I cried for awhile cause the loneliness caught up with me, and tonight I spent time with Jen, we laughed and talked and I walked home feeling exponentially better about life.
So, what are my hopes for the year to come? I'm pretty sure that the emotional roller coaster isn't about to slow down. Being a poor student in a foreign country is challenging. However, I am fortunate enough to have friends and parents who, during those emotional valleys, provide support and encourage me to press on. Their pride in me reminds me to be proud of myself. My hope for this year is that I will drink in every moment of this dream-come-true while I have the chance. I hope I will continue to take the difficult and necessary steps on the road ahead, to become the woman I want to be- someone who faces her fears and learns how to overcome them, a person who refuses to accept a life that is less than what she wants, and who insists on leaving this world a better place than the way she found it.
So, to my friends and family near and far- may the coming year be for all of us a sweet and happy one, filled with joy and blessings beyond the hopes we may hold for ourselves. Shana tova!!
And what about you, dear reader? What were the highs and lows of your year? What goals will you set for yourself in the year to come? I'd love to hear from you.