These boxes arrived yesterday, brought to our door by an incredibly friendly and effective staff person at SAS. (I am really reveling in American customer service, can you tell?!) They contain all the things we shipped from Jerusalem to Delaware. It’s a mixture of stuff the kids would not let us recycle or toss (books, toys, etc.) and stuff we did not want to discuss with interrogators from Ben Gurion Airport security. It’s a drag to entertain two little kids while your bags get painstakingly searched. So anything with the word “Palestinian” or any kind of Christian reference or symbolism went in these boxes, just to be safe.
It was weird to see the boxes appear out of the ether and I’m not ready to open them yet. This has been an odd week, full of dislocation. Most of the time, our “year on” feels a million miles and months away, even though we calculated it’s only been 43 days since we mailed these boxes from Jerusalem, and we’ve only been back in the US for three weeks. Half that time doesn’t really count towards “settling back in” since I was so sick.
Living here seems so easy, cheap, friendly, functional, local. Most of the time, that makes me happy but it can also frustrate me. Last Friday, I made good on a promise to take the kids to “Pump it Up,” a play center full of giant inflatables. I figured after a year of churches and archeological ruins, they deserved it. There I was, bouncing around with lots of laughing kids and moms, and suddenly the party pooper in my brain got going: you guys have no idea what’s out there in the rest of the world, the complexity and pain that other kids and families go through.
Of course, that’s a completely unfair reaction. I have no idea what burdens my fellow bouncers may be carrying. For all I know, they come from or have family in or have traveled to equally fraught environments. But my visceral reaction was: they don’t know how lucky they are.
Our next stop was that American icon, the shopping mall, to get birthday presents for Terence. We parked among gigantic SUVs and trucks (why is everything in this country so big?) and I was thinking about the fact that the mall would be open for business all weekend. If we were in Jerusalem, people would have been racing around to get shopping done before Shabbat. But then the very first person I saw at the mall was an observant Jewish man wearing a kippa and tzizit. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that Delaware before. This sounds so simplistic and cheesy, but I felt like it was a sign: not everything you saw and did is lost.