In a journal entry on July 13, 2010 I wrote about the differences Mom would face if she were to live here. Currently Mom lives in a three bedroom apartment with a professional stove and oven, marble counter tops, has huge closets packed to the brim, and she owns a luxury car. This would all go if she were to move here and I think she is ok with that. Hana's flat is easily a third the size of my Mom's and she shares a car with her husband. She does not have a full bath, only a small shower and you have to squeegee the water from the floor into the drain. This is not a big deal and she has a nice place. She lives in a gorgeous neighborhood and can walk to various amenities, but the difference is incredible. So in the U.S. you have more opportunity to buy shit, so what? Does the ability to buy shit equal a better life?
Yanay mentioned to me that in all his travels to New Zealand, Australia, and several places in Asia, he did not meet one single American. I told him its because we don't have a culture that encourages world travel. He said in Israel it's not a question of going or not going, it's where and when. Each person takes an extended break from Israel usually right after the army. The "big trip" can last anywhere from a year to several depending on reserve duty. Yanay was called back during a trip to Canada because of the situation with Lebanon a few years ago. He can't imagine why on earth Mom wants to retire there. He thinks she might be having some sort of mid-life crisis. Yanay's best friend was killed in the clashes with Lebanon and each person we know in Israel has been touched by unspeakable tragedy.
His wife Shera said the army duty is the main difference between the Israelis and the Americans. They all have to serve and she believes it creates a resourceful and resilient population. She said you feel like you are doing something for the country and for the Jewish people. I never saw it like that. I always assumed that you would disagree with an assignment or feel conflicted or see it as a never-ending cycle.
Inbar took her family to the United States for six months this year. Her husband had a temporary assignment with a company and they got to experience real American life. They managed to go to Wisconsin Dells, Disney World, and suffered through an epic Minneapolis winter. I was impressed. She said that it was so funny how different things were. She felt that this was the first time her husband got to spend real family time with them. They do not have a 9-5 work day here and he often leaves at 7 and comes home at 8. They also have a 6 day work week, with only a half day on Friday for Shabbat and a full day off Saturday. Yikes!
Many people at her husband's work would say, "we should really get together sometime." And then it would never happen. Inbar said she learned this was a manner of speech and people didn't ever mean it.
No come on. Surely you made some friends with people at his work?
Not really. They all went home to their families and that was that. We eventually were invited over for a Superbowl party and there was another family we connected with but that was it.
Wow a Superbowl. You really had an American experience.
It was great! My kids were even taken to a "Little House on the Prairie" school so they could experience what it was like then. They were in an old schoolhouse and all the mothers and the kids had to dress up like back then. It was amazing!
Did you meet other moms there then?
Oh, same thing. I'll call you sometime. We should really get together. It took us a while but we finally understood it's just a saying.
What? You can't be serious.
Yes. Let me tell you, when I was traveling with Ronan in Argentina we worked for a company selling art and postcards. We would go to the shops and the owners would say, "otra dia." We know Spanish so it means another day. So ok, what day? Tuesday, Wednesday, you tell us when. It took us a while but we found out Otra Dia really meant Get Lost. So when Ronan came home from work I asked him if he made any plans and he would say, "otra dia." It was a running joke between us.
I felt truly terrible about this. She said that it ended up being a good thing because they had real family time and had wonderful experiences. If they had stayed longer she said she would have made more efforts also. I couldn't believe that they were so close to us for 6 months and we didn't bother visiting. I know we said that we should.....