Jerusalem is full of hills and we live on top of a particularly big one. In 1948, the monastery next door to us was a strategic point (and site of a major battle) because of its elevation. This means that whenever we come home from anywhere, it’s always uphill. My legs know these gradients so well now, the short steep parts and the long gradual inclines. “One more hill!” I’ll mutter to myself, or exhort my exhausted kids, as we climb.
One more hill is all we have now. One more three-week period before we leave Jerusalem and head for home, via two weeks in Italy. Nine months ago, I wondered if I was ready to start this life-changing experience but now I know I’m ready to end it. No big dramatic moment has brought me to this point, just a bunch of quiet acknowledgements. I consult my ‘bucket list’: been there. Done that. I see that I will miss some things, and that feels OK too. We have had so many adventures, so many new experiences. It has been incredible but I’m ready for a slightly flatter learning curve. I’m ready to kick off my shoes, put my bags down, and just be home. (And yet I also know that this longing is illusory. It will take time and energy to unpack, set our house up again, reconnect with friends, refocus on work, find new jobs, start new schools).
Perhaps it’s predictable that everything about Jerusalem is driving me crazy these days. The sun is blinding, the people are mean, the buses are jerky, the streets are dirty, the prices are ridiculous, the politics are heart breaking. I’ve been cranky this week (perhaps understandable, since I was also solo parenting while Terence and Anne were in Egypt). I look at the “countdown to summer!” mural in Hannah’s classroom and think: it can’t come fast enough.
All this agitation is just a way to make it easier to separate. I have to get pissed off so I can say goodbye.
But yesterday I opened my bedroom blinds and found this sitting on my windowsill. She’s sitting on two eggs and staring at us with implacable eyes. I crash around annoyed, Margaret and Hannah yell at each other or laugh their heads off, Terence comes home from Luxor at 1 a.m. and still this dove sits and stares. It’s like she has seen it all. Let me borrow some of this patience not to race too fast and frustrated through these last weeks of the year.