ithaca – the island, not the college
Israel has always been my personal myth. Ever since I was a child, it was always talked about, learned about, sung and danced about in the family and beyond. When we finally visited, my brother, aged four, and I, aged six, did the most reasonable thing first – tried to climb a palm-tree. We didn’t get very far up.
After we got back, having lived a year in Jerusalem, I went to second grade and gained almost immediate respect. I spoke no Lithuanian, but I had a perfect command of Hebrew. For the following 11 years, not a day passed without someone copying my homework – after all, I’d been there, I had enough to spare.
Of course, with time, other kids went to see the Promised Land as well, and my knowledge of it was no longer exclusive. It was still special, though: I hadn’t been just a tourist, I’d finished first grade there, it belonged to me, and the new visitors were only admitted to the country with my graceful royal permission.
I went there another time, and then another. Then, last year, we went once again to live up there for a year. This time with my new family, A. We made some harsh decisions and burned a considerable amount of bridges. When we got back, we were different. The myth had transformed into the ultimate Oddisey.
We are going back. Today, next year, in five years’ time, until comes the day our ticket will be one-way. It is so definite that we don’t need to create it anymore, or invent anything. It is happening to us, not by us. It is always a homecoming, never repeating, but always the same, our homeland in more ways than one.
By tomorrow we will be in Tel Aviv. Come Monday – in Jerusalem, our own. It’s been a year, almost, and I am apprehensive. They say the bus routes have all been switched, and some stores have been closed. But all I need to remember is it’s still home, even if they’ve changed the carpeting.