Hello, blog. Been awhile, hasn’t it?
Yeah. Sorry about that.
Since we last spoke, Mark and I have been from almost one end of Britain to the other–a lovely (but too brief) holiday in Ullapool (stayed at The Ceilidh Place guesthouse, which I cannot recommend enough. I aspire to stay in one of the real hotel rooms there some day), followed by an intense week of packing, then straight down for Southampton for a conference. Flight schedules dictated that we had to cool our heels somewhere for a couple days, so we holed up in scenic Salisbury before jetting off to… well, I guess I never did mention where we were going.
The view from Dominus Flevit church, on the Mount of Olives, from a photo I took a few years ago.
Well, here we are.
My new job.
So, I hope you’ll forgive the silence, because we’re both still doing a lot of processing. Mark has never been here before–has, in fact, never been anywhere remotely like this before. Our trip to Portugal earlier this summer was his first and only exposure to anything remotely similar in terms of climate or culture, and I think we can all agree that Portugal and Israel are still worlds away from each other.
Me? I spent a very uncomfortable summer here a few years ago, enrolled at an ultra-orthodox women’s college. How that came to be is a very, very long story that I think I’ll skip telling right now, but suffice it to say that I really wasn’t any more interested in becoming a ba’al teshuvah then than I am now, so as you might imagine there was… friction. I mean, finding places to hide on Shabbes so I could phone Mark (phones on Shabbes? Bad. Phoning a Christian? Even worse. Phoning your Christian partner? As in, you’re not planning to marry a Jew? I’m just glad nobody ever caught me.) and cry about how either I was losing my grip on reality or everyone else around me had already lost it kinds of friction. It was a learning experience, to be sure, but not one I’m eager to repeat, and I think it soured me on this place. (And by ‘think’, I mean I know for sure, right down to the very bottom of my soul.)
So, we’re here, and I’m trying really hard to let go of the bad memories and try to see in this city what everyone else I meet seems to see in it. Because, seriously, this is the conversation I’ve had at least ten times in the last two weeks:
Random Person: Soooo, how long are you here for?
Me: Well, my contract runs through June.
Random Person: Oh, you get to stay for the whole year! How lucky! How wonderful! You must be so thrilled!
Me: Uh… yeah. Thrilled. Mmm-hmm.
I’m glad that Mark is with me this time. I’ve had a chance to take him around the city, show him places that I’ve been to and get caught up in his excitement–and to wander and explore new spots. Slowly, I’m learning to let go of everything that made the thought of moving here sound like, if not the absolute last thing in the world I wanted to do, then definitely somewhere in the bottom ten. Even more slowly, almost imperceptibly, I’m starting to find things to love here. It will take awhile, but I think we’ll be OK.
But in the meantime, we’re still reeling from the sudden upside-down turn our lives have taken. Even knowing that it was coming for about three months (and, really, three months is not a lot of time to prepare for something like this) hasn’t done much to mitigate the strangeness of finding ourselves, for the first time, in a city that I know better than Mark (who had been in Glasgow a year already when I arrived there), where I’m suddenly the sole source of income, and he is, of necessity, very firmly in charge of most domestic matters. I want to write a longer post–and perhaps Mark will do the same–about gender and division of labour, because there are some interesting things going on here, and it’s been brought up in other conversations recently, but it will have to wait a bit longer. We’ve both still got a lot of processing to do before everything that’s happened to us starts to find shape in words.