Sunday, September 6, 2009

Swirling Thoughts #29 - time to be normal

The Bonus – guests.
Anyone who knows us knows we love guests. If you make aliya and don’t love guests, I suggest you move to a small apartment where you can tell everyone how cramped you are because in Israel the guests come in steady streams, B”H!!! So our first official guests are 3 seminary girls and 2 yeshivah boys – most of which are family friends from the States. Bob is out right now giving them the Bob Tour of Efrat. Somehow the house feels more normal with the hustle and excitement of new faces. Does that make sense? Every time we sit down to the table, just the family, my kids ask ‘who’s coming?’ And (up until now) every time I told them ‘nobody’ they couldn’t understand why not. The fact that my dishes were still packed, that my oven was missing its racks, that I didn’t know how to use the oven without burning the food (my girls now know you can peel of the top layer of a burnt boreka and it will still taste good), that there were boxes impeding passage from the living room to the dining room – none of that mattered to my kids. Normal for them is a house full of guests and now, a full two months into our journey, I am able to give them a little taste of normal. They are ecstatic.

What’s special about life here.
There’s the obvious – we’re living in Eretz Hakodesh. Beyond that there are all the little things, which I try to elucidate as they come up. And then, it occurred to me this past week, once my kids started school, there is this major thing that I did not anticipate and which is not so obvious. Zmahn. Time. My kids finish school by 2:45 on their longest day. They are home by 3. They used to be home at 5. That’s two extra hours each day for my kids to unwind, play, do homework, eat dinner, take baths – it allows for some easing up on the pace when there is more time to do the same amount of things. They all walk to school themselves. Except for Rosie. Rosie goes to school across the street (literally). I used to spend three hours a day several days a week driving carpool. There was crankiness, squishiness, and the out-of-breath-race-to-get-dinner-on-the-table-ness that accompanied carpool. Carpool was a fact of life that was impinging on my quality of life. No more. I now have three extra hours each day to unwind, play, help with homework, make dinner, give baths. Okay, now here’s the best part. Friday morning before the seminary/yeshivah kids showed up I mentioned to Bob that once they got here I’d be putting them to work setting up the basement apartment. The shower curtain needed to be hung, the beds needed to be made, towels, soap and a wastebasket needed to be brought down. He looked at me funny and said, “I’m not doing anything now.” Huh? And then, “I’ll set up the basement.” So the best part is not that Bob is doing household chores for me (but it still strikes me as cute that he does). No. It’s that Bob is just here. In Brooklyn I said goodbye to Bob in the morning and saw him again late at night. Like 10-o’clock- late- at-night. Here, I see him all day long. It’s like a honeymoon! A honeymoon with trips to the hardware store, runs into Jerusalem, and lots of home improvement activities. Friday morning at 10:40 we took a BREAK on our back meerpeset (porch) to drink coffee and just catch up on events. In 11 years of marriage I don’t think we’ve sat outside drinking coffee together and chatting at that hour. Maybe it doesn’t seem like a big deal. For me it’s huge. In Brooklyn, Bob’s office was 3 minutes away from the house. And yet, it took a transatlantic move for me to see more of my beloved.

If you cook it they will come.
So Shabbat is over and the guests have left. We had a house full of people (we ballooned to 23 for lunch and I lost count by seudat shelishit). There were halachic discussions, life in Israel discussions, and divrei Torah. There were people coming and going throughout the day. It was a lot of fun and the kids were flying. There are no leftovers. As I was sweeping up the floor I realized how much crumbs, sprinkles and miscellaneous food debris must have been getting lost in my carpeting in my Brooklyn house. (The floors here are definitely work but at least you can properly clean them!). Asher was running around with some new boys (Becky calls them his Ninja Friends), Rosie had little friends over all afternoon, Barbara and her friends were working on singing and dancing shows for each other and Becky was in and out with her friends all day long. By the end of Shabbat Bob was beaming like a proud papa. “You’re back, Baby, you’re back!” he told me. He’s left to Jerusalem to return the students. I have my legs up as I wait for my dishwasher to do its first of many loads. The week starts on Sunday here. My kids leave for school at 7:40 tomorrow morning. My housekeeper shows up at 9.

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