I was definitely a late bloomer when it came to men.
I knew alot of guys through Bnei Akiva, which I became active in after high school. And they were all great friends, but that's where it ended. All around me my friends were dating seriously, but not me.
I didn't mind that much because I was having fun with the single girls. I traveled a great deal, to Israel, to Europe and all over the states. I had a great apartment, first with one friend, who got married, and then with another, who got married.
Through all this I contemplated moving to Israel. After my year in Israel on a kibbutz through the Hachshara Bnei Akiva program, I vowed that I would return here to live as soon as I got my act together. I became part of a "garin", a group of like-minded people who would make Aliya together, to the same place. Those were exciting, fun times.
But then a few things happened that pushed off my move. First, I got cancer. Big downer, but thank G-d, I got the "good" kind and after about a year of treatment I found myself in remission.
Next my friends started coupling off and the garin was made up of mostly married people. There were a few singles and a couple of the guys did go to Kibbutz Ein Tzurim single, but I wasn't relishing making Aliya as a single person, let alone to a kibbutz.
All my bravado and talk about Israel being the place where we belong, and honestly?--I was scared to do it on my own.
And then I found that I was 26-years-old. I was going on singles weekends and blind dating, and well, those of you who have done that scene know it's not fun. My good friends were all leaving for Israel. I was feeling it was time to put my money where my mouth was and book a flight.
And then the Persian Gulf War of 1991. When the scuds started hitting Tel-Aviv, I couldn't stand it that I was in Brooklyn when I wanted to be here in Israel. So I started the Aliya process. Got in touch with a shaliach--the person at the Jewish Agency who facilitated the process at the time. Started stocking up on things like toothpaste and shavers. Told my friend Marta of my plans and she said, "what the hell. I'll join you even though I'm not a zionist."
I booked the flight for July 28, 1991. Was given a good-bye party in which my aunt bought me a beautiful set of linens and Suzanne bought me a beautiful gold heart with an inscription that said "friends forever".
And then, in early June a woman I worked with told me about her tenant, Isaac. Another blind date. I accepted, thinking that nothing would come of it, because nothing ever came of those dates.
Isaac picked me up promptly. He was charming and talkative, taking the pressure off of me to converse. He took me to a great restaurant. He told me that he had been very active in Bnei Akiva in Venezuela and that he also dreamed of making Aliyah. He talked and talked and eventually I felt relaxed and I started talking, and well, it was a really. good. date.
And then there was a second date. And a third one. And so on and so on. And then it was July and I was in a panic. I was leaving in 4 weeks, but I really liked this guy.
(Note: I went up to find my old diary where I wrote everything down about how I was feeling. I was going to quote, but I found myself blushing from all the mushy-gushy stuff. So you'll have to trust me when I say I was a mess).
Should I stay or should I go? We had only been dating weeks, neither one of us was 100% ready to commit. But the chemistry was certainly there. I don't think I slept for weeks.
And then one night, clarity. I woke in the middle of the night with this thought: ISRAEL WILL STILL BE THERE IN SIX MONTHS. If things don't work out with Isaac, I'll leave then.
Slept like a baby that night.
We got engaged three months later, promising ourselves that we would make Aliyah in two to three years.
Life happened. Babies. Jobs. We bought the house. We fixed it up. School. Community obligations. Liat's illness, which brought home the fact that life is so precious and short and if you have a dream, you need to try to achieve it.
Sixteen years after I postponed my Aliyah for a man, we stepped onto the tarmac at Ben Gurion airport as a family of six (five humans + one canine). I don't regret those sixteen years in America for one moment, just as I don't regret our decision to move our family here either.
By the way, Marta did make Aliya without me. She's still a bit grumpy that I left her high-and-dry. Until I got here, she used to say, "How is it that I, who am not a zionist live here in Israel, and you, who are, live on Long Island??"
Life is full of twists and turns. We try to enjoy the ride.
The Stuff That Lasts, Part Deux
5 weeks ago