We’re taking our time with re-entry, by necessity. The mysterious illness I picked up in Italy turned out to be not strep but pneumonia, or maybe one morphed into the other. I’ve been flat on my back for four days with plenty of time to think about reconstructing our lives Stateside, but little energy to do any of it.
On our first morning back in the US, jetlagged and exhausted from our odyssey home, we packed our car in the Gilheanys’ garage and nearly started driving, before realizing that it had no license plates. We scratched our heads, digging deep into memories from last summer…there was something about de-insuring the car…sending the plates to the DMV for safe keeping…. We didn’t realize that the plates would end up in Delaware, the car in New York, and our family in Massachusetts. Delaware bureaucracy is a lot friendlier than the Israeli version (“we’ll have someone calls you who speaks English” said the water company. Imagine my surprise when they did — three weeks later!) but it’s still a hassle.
We’re dealing with deferred maintenance. Clearing out my lungs, for starters. The girls finally got haircuts. I caught up on People Magazine. We went to Target to stock up on underwear and sunblock, and I couldn’t believe how big and bright and clean and empty and cheap it was. It was lovely, but I confess to the tiniest flash of missing Rami Levy, where the prices are kept (comparatively) down by doing everything during opening hours, around the hoards of shoppers: stocking shelves, moving pallets of cargo, buffing the floors. There’s just no challenge to shopping at Target. I think back to my Jerusalem shopping days, and already wonder how on earth I did it.
While I’m moving slowing, dipping my toes into the waters of re-entry, the girls are jumping right in. Hannah climbed on the yellow school bus to YMCA camp — could there by anything more American? — where she knew no one and would spend all day canoeing and swimming and going on nature walks, her beloved books many miles away. She loves it. Margaret is running around, rediscovering long-long coloring books and stuffed animals. Both girls are peppering us with questions about the precise location of this or that beloved toy. I can’t remember what I stored in the attic vs. brought to Goodwill vs. sold on eBay, a long 14 months ago. The girls don’t seem susceptible to this mental haze, or maybe theirs just hasn’t hit yet. They also reject outright any hint of change. We proposed having them sleep in bunkbeds in one room, using the other as a play and work space, and they scoffed in our faces. “Everything has to be just like before!” insisted Hannah. We will see about that.