Suddenly we’re in the home stretch. My Facebook feed is full of “countdown to summer” messages by teachers and students. Yesterday Terence turned in his research project, the culmination of his Fulbright grant. This past weekend we said goodbye to close friends who have finished up their Jerusalem sabbatical. It is hot again. It’s time to register for summer camp, make plans to see friends at home, put down deposits on 1st grade.
We have six and a half weeks to go. I can’t tell how I feel. My brain is bouncing.
We’re all making Bucket Lists. So far Hannah and Margaret’s are modest: they want to show Terence the Botanical Gardens and re-visit the fun new kids’ exhibit at the Israel Museum. Ours are a lot less achievable. There’s a lot of Israel I haven’t seen yet. We’ll be taking the girls to the desert next weekend, then squeezing in one more international trip each (Terence and Anne to Cairo, me to Beirut). We’re also coming to terms with the idea that we won’t do t all, at least not this year.
I know, I know, travel gurus like Rick Steves and Julie Gilheany always say you should tell yourself: we’ll be back! But I don’t know if we will be back. My guess is that we’ll use our limited travel time and dollars to go new places, not revisit Jerusalem. But Hannah was very upset when I said that out loud: “Mom! That’s not fair. You go back to London all the time. I want to come back here.” So maybe we will.
I also still feel like a beginner here; I’m still having firsts. So it’s weird to think about winding down. Our sense of belonging, of mastery over this experience, is still so fragile. Shift the frame a little and it can crumble. On Saturday afternoon, we decided to go explore a new playground which is just a few blocks away, but it felt entirely foreign. The park was packed for Shabbat and we were the only secular family there. Everyone else seemed to know each other. Bigger kids jumped in front of Hannah and Margaret in line for the seesaw. Both girls shrank and clung to me with awkward self consciousness. We bailed and went home after ten minutes. It felt like August again, only back then I probably would have pushed the girls harder, done more to facilitate a social interaction for them. This weekend, I was tired.
I’d like to promise that I’ll go hard until the end, that I won’t let this once-in-a-lifetime experience be shadowed by pre-emptive regrets of Things Not Done, Experiences Not Had. But I honestly don’t know how this will play out.