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As regular readers know from Alana’s posts, we have up and moved to the Holy Land, though with a definite end date. I have been trying to get my head around keeping an orderly track of events, and I want to blog more regularly, but after months of church work, packing (also known as demolishing the life one has built up in a particular place), paper-writing, moving, partnership-expressing, conference-going, graduation-experiencing, family-visiting, and yet more travelling, I am not even sure if I have a good command of grammar any more. So to get myself back into the swing of this thing called blog–that is, if I ever was in the swing of it, for if you check the author tags, you will find that a vast majority of posts here have been made by Alana–I am going to record a series of short impressions from our move. So here’s part one.

  1. My body does not do heat very well. I knew this already, but not how much, having never been anywhere like Israel before. So I am consuming boatloads of water.
  2. When told about Alana’s appointment to a post-doc fellowship and the impending move to Jerusalem, except for a precious few, most people reacted almost immediately by asking, ‘What are you going to do?’ I got the funny feeling that many would not have asked Alana that if I was the one getting the job. Now, I understand that people are interested in my life, and the people who asked genuinely so. But it seemed remarkably illustrative of the impact of gender role expectations. The question continues to dog me, as many of the staff members and guests have asked it, or a variation: ‘I know you are accompanying Alana, but what are you actually doing here?’ Every time someone asks, I feel I have to justify myself, point to work and research interests, show that I am a contributing member of this partnership. This is something I have to get over, but it is not easy. More on this another time.
  3. We entered Jerusalem at night. Other than odd things illuminated by lamplight, my first full impression was provided by the warm glow around the doors of St. Andrew’s Guest House, part of the complex of the Scottish Memorial Church. Someone in our sherut was getting off there. The place looked welcoming and homey. Still the prominent Scottish flag flying at the top of the steeple and visible even at night gave me ambivalent feelings, on the one hand looking like the flag of a conqueror, on the other like a reminder of the place that has been home for about half a decade.
  4. Living in a gated compound does strange things for a person’s idea of home.
  5. Adjusting to being the non-wage-earning person in a partnership is even harder than expected. How to act? What to say? How to interact with your partner’s co-workers? I am still working on answering those questions.
  6. Living in a place where some version of my own religion is not dominant is eye-opening. I just pray that I will continue to learn and keep an open mind.
  7. The hills west of Jerusalem are surprisingly desolate. They look like piles of stone surrounded by dirt and scrub. Except for human habitations, that is. They look like islands fortified against raw nature. Then, as you approach a city like Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, there are flowers and abundant growth. You wonder where that water came from.
  8. Going to a conference back in the country you just left is physically and emotionally exhausting. Not that it is not good to see friends again. That part is great! It’s the part where you have to turn away from them once again, this time not knowing when the next time you will see them will be. The image of that stays with you.
  9. Not much can cheer a heart that feels a stranger more than the sight of an active little iridescent songbird, going about its business of drinking the nectar of flowers right in front of you, or kittens. The former is the Palestine Sunbird, which loves the courtyard of our guest house home; the latter are the tiny, too-cute-for-words young of one of the many local cats, a brood that resides in the back courtyard here. Of course, it would probably not be too good for these various joy-inducing creatures to be too close to one another.

That’s just a few. There will be more, and some will make it to their own posts, but you have to start somewhere.