Saturday, July 20, 2013

“Beyond the howling deserts with its sand, there waits beneath His stars the Promised Land”

I’ll start this by being honest: I am a cookie.  Not just any cookie, but that last one on the sheet, the one that's a little stuck, holding on with every bit of chocolate chip grip.

I say this as what was once months is now days for the trip that has been, in reality, years in the making. In just a few short days, I will board the 747 that has been waiting nearly 20 years for me, to bring me to the land of milk of honey and junior high dreams.  I am finally going to make it overseas; I am finally going to make it to Israel.

Why so long, you may ask. Life is comfortable on that silver-lined cookie sheet. Everything that has externally impacted on me—such as careers, coworkers, and creative endeavors—has done little to change my gooey insides, and those chocolate chips, walnuts, and fruity chunks that are the center of my existence have not only sustained, but have gotten more and more flavorful and obvious the older I get. 

I have made lots of promises to myself over the years.  Many I have kept: I don’t smoke, I don’t drink (much), I wear my seatbelt and I smile to myself everyday.  Ever since I turned 29, though, when I thought I had it all together—Dream Job, Big House, Happy Times—I’ve had this whiny, aggravating, annoying little voice of The Fourteen Year Old Me reminiscing of every promise I hadn’t kept.  “You don’t write anymore, Kayla” she would say one day, and then add the next that “You haven’t mastered Russian like you said you would, either, and your German is still nicht ser gut.”  “Traveling?  You haven’t left the United States and only Minnesota twice, and you’ve gotten as close to God as you have Boris Yeltsin (may he rest in peace).”  

This voice became a (literal, stress-induced) pain in my neck that was not eased by chiropractors, two rounds of physical therapy, and numerous medications; I decided the only way to feel better was to shut her up; and the only way to do that was to do what I tell my students to do: Listen for the answers.

For the most part, it has been working.  I’ve started to write again (much of which can be found at this other blog).  I have found my God, and with that creator came Judaism, who brought along Hebrew.  My English brain, looking for connective answers among the ordinary, loves that my covenant to be kept is taking me to a land where I can live the traditions that will build my future.   

After thirty-one years of baking, it is time for me to sit back and enjoy who I am.  I can think of no better place than on the shores of a Tel Aviv beach.  As I listen to the soft shores, I will be listening to myself.

Let me make this promise to you, my reader, whoever you may be: This is NOT an “Eat-Pray-Love”-like blog.  Personal narratives will occur, but so will fictions inspired by random life such as a bus ride, reviews of restaurants and attractions, Middle East travel tips and tricks gained through experiences, regional recipes, stories told through my perspective and the ones that only photos can tell in their own words.  Like the cookie, ripped in half and dunked into milk, this is my removal from the warm, comfy known into the shocking cool unknown, from one world and one life into another, and I’d like to share it with you—for your entertainment, for your information, for your assistance.  

This is my promise to the Promised Land. 

(Chaim Nachman Bialik, "The Last Dead of the Desert")

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