It's been a while since I wrote anything.
I've been getting adjusted to being in one place: Haifa, Israel.
I've been getting adjusted to going to school again.
I've been getting adjusted to taking a 40 minute bus ride to go anywhere.
It's tricky, ya know?
I like to be strong.
Rather, I like to seem strong.
I like to do hard things and put on a face of resilience and calmness and strength.
I like people to perceive me this way and I also believe in the fake-it-til-you-make-it brain trick.
I have a confession to make.
Traveling and studying abroad is hard.
It's challenging. It's draining and exhausting and messy and stressful.
It's full of an array of emotions from
"oh my Yonce, I can't believe I made this happen"
"I wish I spoke f**king Hebrew!"
"I want to sleep for 62 days"
I have been on a roller coaster the past two months.
And yesterday, as I found myself first crying on a bus and then crying at a bus stop, I realized I haven't fully grasped how tiring it can be to live in another country.
And more specifically, to live in Israel.
And Israel is a funny place.
I find myself continuously feeling like I'm in just another school in the United States.
Contrary to popular belief,
Israel is hella 'developed', 'westernized', whatever we call it these days.
Israel is expensive!
And Israel is stressed out.
This 'stress' surfaces through sarcasm and unavoidable discussions of the nearby 'conflict'.
And also through a very weird but obvious coping method of totally laughing at or making fun of or outright ignoring the nearby conflict.
Israel is my Twilight Zone.
It's weird* living here because people park the front half of their cars of the sidewalk and leave the backend in the street.
'Excuse me sir... Your car is... Crooked?'
It's weird because my climbing gym feels almost too similar to my climbing gym back home, with shirtless man-children scaling walls and offering me beta when I did not ask for any help.
It's weird because when I tell people I'm studying 'Peace and Conflict', I receive exactly two responses:
1) "Well you're in the right place"
2) "Why would you ever want to get into that mess?!"
It's weird because I chose to come here.
I decided I wanted to live among the stress and the stabbings and the sarcastic humor.
It's weird because I feel myself becoming accustom to the violence; slowly, my regular, routine world is normalizing into this different dimension, where I can read about it on the news everyday; I expect to see soldiers with massive guns on the streets, on the bus, at my school; I find myself laughing off the disintegrating areas that surround me because I don't know what else to do, because that's what everyone else is doing.
(*weird isn't bad)
Two quick things I thought were important to share:
There was this one time that comes to mind when I forgot I was in Israel.
I was sitting in a hostel in Tel Aviv, watching the sunset with new friends who felt like old friends. In hostels, I think politics find me and follow me. The conversation always turns this directions. ALWAYS. Either world or American. The Syrian Refugee Crisis or Donald Trump.
So I was having a very normal hostel night of drinking over-priced beer and discussing, at this point, the constant conflict occurring right around the corner, in the West Bank and Gaza, forgetting I was in Israel because I live in Portland where this is exactly how I spend most Friday nights.
Except that, in Portland you would never hear an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) solider on leave for the weekend say
"When there is another war with Lebanon..."
And then say
"They aren't Palestinians. They're Jordanians and Syrians"
"The only Arabic I know if 'stop' and 'hands up or I'll shoot'
It's really here common for families to raise their kids and say things like
"When you're 18, you won't have to go fight
because everything will be calm and peaceful and good"
I've heard this from several people, both currently serving their mandatory 3 year time in the IDF and people grown, older, who have kids of their own now.
They all say
"I didn't believe it when my mama said it to me. But I'll say it to my kids. Because it's the right thing to do and the right thing to think. Because it's what I want. Because it's what I hope for even if it's not what I believe"
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is really complicated
and I'm not going to try and explain it here.
Partially because I am still learning.
Partially because I think it's important to seek out other sources of knowledge
besides some girl with a blog.
But I will say:
No one wants to be at war.
And I think this is important to remember.
Anger is really easy. It's a go-to emotion.
I think anger stems from fear. And sadness.
And if there's many things to fear in Israel and Palestine:
I realized walking alone in the dark tonight that
I am more scared of being stabbed than I am of sexual assault.
And there's many things to be sad about in Israel and Palestine:
So anger is easy and it's what we all see the most of.
People who are angry tend to be the loudest.
I also think anger fuels war.
But everyone I've met wants peace.
Just, no one knows how.
Or is willing to compromise.
Or a little of both.
So we keep working. And laughing it off. And holding our breathe.
And I'll keep living in my Twilight Zone,
where I find myself stranded every Saturday (Shabbat strikes again) and also, yes, still meeting climbers who know climbers I know in Portland, Oregon.
Happy International Women's Day*
(*should be everyday)