Asking for help is not my favorite thing. I really, really, really like to be able to take care of myself (and those around me). While I’d like to think I am generous when others need help or ask for favors, doing so myself feels like a terrible imposition. This has sometimes led to (loving) clashes with friends, when they find out after-the-fact that they could have been helpful to me with medical advice, childcare, moving help, etc. etc. etc.

But self-sufficiency just isn’t going to happen this year. We need all kinds of help, on so many levels including the most basic.

Today we went to a 5-year old’s birthday party in Ein Kerem, the supposed birthplace of John the Baptist, which used to be a separate village and is now a very outlying neighborhood of the city. Gorgeous spot in the Jerusalem Forest…and a very, very long bus ride from our house. Or actually it would be fast as the crow flies, but as the #13 bus drives, very long. Our kids were troopers as we wiggle waggled all over the city, had to hike straight uphill to catch our connecting bus, and then got lost in the pastoral stone streets of Ein Kerem. (Request for help #1: call the host to come show us the way. It will tell you something about me that I was prepared to give up and go home rather than make this call). So even I was persuaded to say yes when a brand new acquaintance offered to drive us home.

I liked that so much, I bummed another ride tonight to my new book group, all the way across town in Beit Hanina. This time I even made a cold call (OK, email) to someone I barely knew to see if she was going and could I ride along. She was and I could, and we had a lovely conversation.

Back home, I have become so accustomed to being a helper, not a helpee … someone who welcomes others to the community and tells them where to go and how to get there.  It feels vulnerable and scary be so totally on the other side. And yet I’m also grateful that being car-less is proving so many opportunities to learn the humility of asking for help.


About hilarymead

Taking two young kids, a great husband, and a whole lot of questions to Jerusalem for a year's sabbatical.
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3 Responses to Hitchhiker

  1. Margaret says:

    The humility of asking for help… let me just say this: over the years, I have become more and more humble. 🙂 What are you reading in book club?

  2. hilarymead says:

    Thanks, Margaret! It’s an interesting reading list…obviously chosen by a group of expat women in the Middle East!
    The House of the Mosque – Kader Abdola
    The Solitude of Prime Numbers – Paolo Giordano
    The Lemon Tree – Sandy Tolan
    Belonging: A Home Away from Home – Isabelle Huggan
    The Finkler Question – Howard Jacobson
    I Shall Not Hate – Izzeldin Abuelaish
    What are you reading these days? (At a few weeks post partum, I was lucky to be reading People Magazine)

  3. launaschweizer says:

    Does it change things to realize that, where you are, people probably deeply appreciate your asking and/or trusting them to do for you?

    Or just to keep telling yourself, “This too is part of the adventure?”

    Being a foreigner felt to me like being an infant — not always pleasant, but good practice in being human.

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