Thursday, May 30, 2013

IKEA: The Mitzvah

Tonight, Mr. T and I trekked off to IKEA to track down a few clutch items for the kitchen (I can't get enough of those storage jars). We partook of the food (fish at a price more than half that of most restaurants in Israel) and picked up the dozen items we'd gone there for and headed out to the car park.

While I waited for Mr. T to pull the car up to the curb, I watched an older Israeli couple reviewing their purchase and their incredibly small car. When Mr. T pulled up, I suggested he go help them out, and that's where the fun starts.

He walked over and helped them remove the cardboard and the plastic, and we were all shocked to find this was a piece of furniture that came completely put together -- only the feet needed to be added on. As a result, the small car was not going to hold this piece of furniture. They wedged it in the best way they could, Mr. T suggested they tie it off with rope and then walked over toward me. My immediate reaction? "Ask them where they live," I said. So he went over, found out they lived in Rishon LeZiyon, where the IKEA was, and I told him we should offer to take it home for them. With a quick flip of the back seat, the chair slid in like a dream. The wife hopped in the car, and we were off.

After a winding adventure through Rishon LeZiyon (who knew it was so gigantic), we arrived at some beautiful high-rises surrounded by palm trees that reminded me of Florida. I was going to sit in the car and wait, but the wife insisted I come upstairs with them. So while the boys managed the chair in a cart, I went upstairs with the woman, who apologized to me that she didn't speak English (she has family living in English-speaking countries, so it's hard for her, she said). I realized that this woman is the epitome of a generation -- the child of survivors, most likely, and if not, of kibbutzniks who settled the land and built this country, who knew that Hebrew was the only language that anyone needed, that Israel was the Jewish homeland and Hebrew its sustenance.

When the boys got upstairs, Mr. T quickly put on the feet of the chair, removed it from the cart, and we wished them well and started to head off. But after asking again and again if we wanted a sandwich or something to drink, we finally relented when the woman offered us watermelon. She cut some up and we all went out to the mirpeset for some cool air. Sitting around the table, we joked about how far off the ground the chairs were, making our feet swing off the floor. After a few minutes, we told them we really needed to go, I gathered up a beautiful outdoor lantern the woman had given me, and we were off into the cool, humid night.

I've been having a very hard time lately -- finances, missing Colorado, realizing how permanent this move really is. Yes, I hit the six-month slump of "Wait a second, I really did this?" and am struggling to find my footing with HaShem. I'm struggling to feel grateful some days, to feel happy other days, to feel like it's all going to be okay most days. I'm blessed with an amazing husband and friends, but I miss the conveniences that I had in Colorado of inexpensive gluten-free food, being able to go into a Target and find anything I wanted, and knowing that when I'm feeling down that comforting cup of always-the-same-made coffee I always ordered would be there. It's hard knowing that if I were living in Colorado I'd still be employed right now, but it's even harder knowing that if I were living in Colorado I wouldn't have met Mr. T or started filling up that eternally empty space inside that longed for Israel.

Living here is a tug-of-war. A violent, confusing, explosive tug-of-war of emotions. It's never easy -- even the woman who gave me watermelon said it can't be hard living here, not for people who weren't born here. This sabra understands.

But it's moments like this, when you offer someone help and they ply you with watermelon and soda water on their balcony, where I remember why living in Israel is a gift. When someone takes down your phone number, invites you to come back, and makes you wish you had Israeli grandparents, you know that you're at home.