Itâ€™s hard to say exactly at what point that change happened, but the small things that used to drive me crazy, I now canâ€™t imagine living without. If/when I go back to sunny California, how will I possibly re-adjust?
Going out in Tel Aviv:
Step 1) Drink in my living room with friends, while waving at neighbors and listening to the music playing at the bar under my house. Take as much time as needed.
Step 2) Walk/take a bus/cab/sherut #5 to a local bar/club/dance bar.
Step 3) Run into at least 6 people I know.
Step 4) Look around the place, realize Iâ€™m surrounded by hundreds of gorgeous, upbeat, smiling menâ€¦all (or most) of whom are Jewish! Feel like a kid in a candy store. Where to begin?
Step 5) Talk to people on all sides of me, hand out my card, maybe make up a story about being a cowgirl from Texas, possibly pretend I donâ€™t speak Hebrew just to hear whatâ€™s being said about me. In any case, converse with tens of people only to discover that they are Israelis, Italians, French, Germans, Canadians, Americans, Australians, South Africans, Russians and Arabs.
Step 6) Walk/cab/sherut #5 home. (If itâ€™s a cab, sing a duet with the driver and talk about how hot it is outside.)
Step 7) Say goodnight (or good morning, depending on what time I get home) to the neighbors and people working on my street.
Going out in Los Angeles:
Step 1) Get ready as fast as I can.
Step 2) Pick up four girlfriends in my Prius. (Make â€œvroomâ€ noises and pretend itâ€™s a Ferrari.)
Step 3) Drive 45 minutes to Hollywood or Santa Monica (more if thereâ€™s traffic, of course).
Step 4) Pay $20-30 parking.
Step 5) Get hit on by lots of dull, plain men with immature and lame senses of humor.
Step 6) Last call for alcohol at 1:15 am.
Step 7) Eat at aroma cafÃ©, because itâ€™s the only option. Look at all theÂ arsimÂ with shame, realizing that these clowns are the reason people donâ€™t like Israelis.
Partying isnâ€™t everythingâ€¦ and Iâ€™m not getting any younger! But this concept applies to every aspect of my life in Israel. The liveliness, action, constantly active lifestyle andÂ aviraÂ make this life so much healthier and more fun, and that will remain true regardless of my age. Even in my home away from home, the Recanati building at Tel Aviv University, a wave of overwhelming happiness hits me when I arrive.
In Israel, I am still considered overly polite. That being said, I am far more â€œIsraeliâ€ in the sense that I say and do things I once wouldnâ€™t have dreamed of, and itâ€™s not that they are rude; they are just normal here. Growing up, my mom introduced me to people as her Israeli daughter, so I always had thatÂ tachlesÂ straightforwardness in me, but throughout this year in Israel, it has grown and developed into a significant part of me. I am going to be so annoyed and impatient with the pace in Los Angeles. Even if I live, once again, in the Encino â€œKibbutzâ€ (you know, White Oak and Burbank Blvd.) it still wonâ€™t feel like home. When I was an American-Israeli, it bugged me beyond belief when people acted like they knew me. Now, itâ€™s not only something I am used to, itâ€™s a behavior I expect and look forward to. Yes, I will watch your bag, stranger! Yes, I should listen to your advice,Â randomer! Yes, I will talk about that intimate subject you just brought up! Itâ€™s part of me now, too, friends.
Itâ€™s not just about theÂ aviraÂ and theÂ tachles.Â Itâ€™s also the little things:Â Â Men wearing flip flops on first dates, for example. Also, I am so used to walking or busing everywhere, four miles will feel too far. Here, on my Tel Aviv street, everything I need is within a ten minute walking distance, and everything else is within a twenty minute bus ride. Additionally, I am addicted to having vegetables for breakfast. Me in LA: â€œYou call that a cucumber?â€
Where will I be able to findÂ shoko bâ€™sakit? Which buffet will haveÂ labnehÂ withÂ zaatarÂ and olive oil? How will I survive without Israeli cottage cheese? Will I ever find the perfect balance between the American professionalism and formalities I love so much, and the Israeli joy for life and independence I adore? Probably not. Meanwhile, Iâ€™m sticking with my life philosophy:Â Tizremu!