I apologize for the radio silence. March is the Month Without Routine (but with lots and lots of fun). Within five weeks, we have had or will have…
A visit from dear friends, originally Terence’s from college, and their dear children. They are adventurous, warm, open and hilarious. They called the trip “a selfish investment — now when you talk about Jerusalem, we’ll be able to envision your life there.” I called it an incredible gift to bring two young kids across many oceans to spend time with us. Hannah and Margaret loved it and so did we. Highlights included discovering the Old City of Nazareth together (staying at the Fauzi Azar Inn, an old Palestinian home, preserved and co-owned between its original family and a Jewish entrepreneur) and experiencing a freak, once-in-every-five years Jerusalem snowstorm. But really the best parts were many, many great conversations — kid to kid (they played independently for hours), adult to adult, adult to kid — which brought all our relationships to a new level.
Hannah’s sixth birthday, including celebrations at school and a magic-themed party at the Science Museum. “I thought science was the opposite of magic?” mused one father. Whatever. This is a non- or at least less-litigious country so the kids got to sit on a chair of nails and see liquid nitrogen explosions and a sparkler attached to a power tool…inside. No one got hurt, but we did all require massive naps afterwards.
A long-awaited trip to Istanbul sans Hannah and Margaret. “Trips without you girls are the reason we’re still married,” my father has told me for years (since well before I could understand). Thanks to Anne and my in-laws, Terence and I got that opportunity and we enjoyed three days of visiting mosques and museums, cruising on the Bosphorous, eating delicious food and using planes, trains, trams, metros, cabs, buses, ferries, funiculars and feet to explore this enormous, ancient-and-yet-hip city. (Jerusalem could learn a thing or two). We just love to travel together.
A visit from a member of the Four Families, who were my parents’ best friends and their children were thus my first friends. They were my surrogate family, a strong anchor in my peripatetic childhood. Nella is the kind of old friend I can see once or twice a year and dive straight back into comfortable and deep conversations. She did a fellowship abroad a couple of years ago, so has a deep appreciation for the roller coaster of this experience. She also had the good taste to marry an older, athletic, boarding school teacher from the mid Atlantic! Together they love an adventure. They travel so light that when I saw them I assumed Air Canada had lost their luggage. Nella is six months pregnant and as I write they are in Jordan hiking Petra.
On Thursday, Terence goes to Rome to celebrate the life and grieve the death of one of his surrogate family members, who died this week following a sudden cerebral hemorrhage. My in-laws were able to travel straight to Italy from here and be with her in her last days.
And at the end of next week we travel to London to meet up with my parents for spring break and reconnect with more old friends. I have thought about London almost every day this year and my “mental model” for living abroad comes from those years. So too does my model of long time, loyal, independent friendships. I can’t wait to be back in a city I love and to share it with my girls.
All of these reunions and travels are overwhelming, of course, and all of us are longing for a routine that will probably never arrive, but what a lovely problem to have. With only one year abroad and only three months left in Jerusalem, we’re going for broke.
Some days I feel guilty about all these tremendous opportunities, but then Terence reminds me that he has (and thus we will have) at least twelve more years of weekend duty, dorm duty, teaching and coaching to make up for it!