Six months ago I dropped everything on Chol HaMoed Pesach (the middle of Passover) and ran to America to see my father who was extremely ill. That was the first time I had been back in the country of my birth since we moved to Israel three years ago. Because of the circumstances, I did not fully absorb the fact of being back in America, in New York City, the city I grew up in. I did take breaks from my father's bedside to wander the streets of Manhattan. It was springtime, the air was beautiful and crisp, the daffodils were everywhere and the tulips were pushing through thte softening earth. But I didn't care about where I was because I was busy being with my father for what turned out to be his last days....
Tomorrow night, I return. The reasons this time are bittersweet. First, I get to attend the bar-mitzvah of my nephews (2/3 of a triplet set) and, a week later I will attend the unveiling of my father's gravestone.
When I first made Aliya, I was once admonished not to call America, or New York "home". But, Israel, much as I loved her, did not seem like home in those first months. Everything was strange, from the house where we lived, to the products in the supermarket, to the way people drive here. Home was America, New York, Cedarhurst, in a little beige dutch colonial with green shutters. Home was shul on Edward Ave., friends surrounding me for a five-mile radius and work at 177. Home was seeing my mother, and my father and my siblings on a regular basis.
Now things have shifted. We've bought a home here. We are speaking the language. We have jobs here. And friends surrounding us for a five-mile radius. We are happy to be here, living as Jews in a Jewish country.
But I would be lying if I told you I didn't miss America.
Mostly, I miss my people, but I miss other things, too. I miss the changing seasons and pedicures. I miss being the one to make the joke at meetings (but I'm getting closer, I can feel it). I am looking forward to my visit, to hitting the shops and the restaurants and to seeing my people. I wonder how I'll feel wandering around my old neighborhood. Will Sarge at the candy store remember me? Have the stores changed? Will it feel like home?
For 40+ years New York was my home. Not to be morbid or anything, but there's a good chance that at the end, my years there will outnumber my years here (with G-d's help, NOT!). Living in America shaped who I am and what I think. She will always be a part of me.