Let’s be honest: I could usually call most of what I write by this title, at least over the last nine years.
Yet the past couple of weeks, things seem to be coming to an even bigger head than usual.
This latest round of massive internal angst got sparked off by doing my audiobook in a studio which is plastered with memorabilia from London. You walk in and whap! There’s a massive picture of the #38 red double-decker bus stuck in traffic in Piccadilly Circus, in the centre of London where I often used to hang out.
Even the shower curtain in the toilet is plastered full of London Tube signs and other London stuff, and the fridge is covered with magnets bearing legends from British soccer clubs.
This living in two worlds thing is not really something new, at least not for me, but the last couple of weeks the contrast between my external ‘me’ – that’s doing my tikkun haklali most days by Rav Berland, on the cusp of Meah Shearim, and living 10 minutes walk away from the Old City of Jerusalem – and my internal me, that hasn’t been able to get ‘Sweet Child O Mine’ by Guns n’ Roses out of my head all week, plus thoughts of how much I miss the family and friends stuff from the old country has been completely headwrecking.
My brain KNOWS that it was all pretend, and that even when I lived there I was on the verge of completely cracking up.
I felt 12 years ago that if we didn’t move to Israel ASAP, I was going to end up in a mental institution. (Sometimes, I think I was half right…)
But we left at the height of our ‘success’ in life. Good jobs, two beautiful children, amazing friends, nice house, family all around. And sometimes, the thought of what I left behind when I make aliyah is very hard to bear.
Even though it’s not there anymore.
So many of our friends got divorced…
So many of the people we know went through such hard times the last six years they can’t actually speak to anyone anymore, or be ‘real’, or have a real conversation…
My business croaked six months into moving to Israel, which was a hard financial blow in Israel, but in the UK, would have led to complete and utter disaster…
My husband’s old law firm hit hard times and let go of more than half their lawyers…
Two of my siblings left the country and now live in the US…
So the London I miss isn’t there anymore, even if it was as ‘great’ as I remember.
Which as we’ve already discussed, it wasn’t.
So why can’t I get it out of my head? Why have I been sitting here for two months feeling a deep sadness that I can’t seem to shake, even though my life in Israel is really pretty good on so many different fronts?
I was asking God that question today, when I took one of my random ‘Tehillim quote’ cards out their box for some inspiration, and this is what I got:
The rivers have lifted up, O Being
The rivers have lifted up their voice
The rivers will lift up their voice.
The depression will be carried away
And will become light
As you express what has been suppressed.”
God is nothing if not clear…
I realized I have to stop running away from that bit of myself that got stuck back in London, and that I finally have to go and track it down, face up to it, and bring it back home to Israel.
I’ve avoided the UK for years and years, since I hit ‘skid row’ professionally. The contrast between the external ‘success’ I had then and the external ‘loser’ I am now has been far too hard for me to deal with.
At the beginning of July when we went to Liverpool for family reasons, I felt utter horror well up inside of me at the thought of also going back to London. No way, Jose! What, go back and have to acknowledge what a mess I’ve made of my life, what an idiot I am, how poor I am, how retarded I was to switch spiritual riches for material ones?!
You must be kidding!
But God is showing me that I can’t continue to run away from that encounter. I have to go back for a few days again, this time to London, and I have to go walk the streets, and see my old house, and walk back past all the places I used to work in the heart of London, and to see how it really feels, not just how it looks when I take my trips down memory lane.
It’s pretty scary, because I know that the first day it’s going to look gorgeous and all my suppressed feelings about aliya, and everything we went through the last 12 years is going to well up and capsize me.
But I also know that by day two, I’ll be feeling much happier again. And that by day three, I’ll be raring to get back on the plane back home to Israel.