The First 24 hours

The first 24 hours feels so unreal after aliyah. Even though I knew the basics of what was going to happen nothing prepares you for the true experience of coming home. For me the most stressful part was having my dog and keeping her calm. It didn’t work. She barked incessantly when I picked her up from baggage claim. She had to sue the bathroom and she was starving. It was obvious to me that she had been a little traumatized by the experience of riding in the plane. She was scared and definitely felt like I had abandoned her.

I arrived to my temporary home later that night, after spending about 2-3 hours at the ministry of absorption getting my ID card, signing for healthcare, and all the other things new slim have to do once they become Israeli citizens. I was so tired and out of it that I forgot my backpack (with my laptop, iPad, and all the important paperwork) on the shuttle. The bas part was that it took me an hour to notice it was gone. Lucky for me the shuttle driver had dropped the bag off in the courtyard in the place I was staying and all my goods were still there.

The home I am staying at is filled with visits from the states. This is nice but I think it also contributes to the not real feeling as well as the this is not my place feeling, despite me unpacking everything and setting up my temporary room. I think this part did make Autumn feel a little bit more settled but she is definitely exhausted and having a bad case of separation anxiety.

I had a job interview scheduled for the Thursday morning, a little more than 12 hours after my arrival. I am staying in Jerusalem but the job is in Tel Aviv. This meant having to wake up and get on the bus at 5 am. WellI was up at 2 am (after not going to bed until midnight) and I couldn’t fall back asleep so I walked Autumn, showered and gave her a bath, then I was off. I heard her barking from the street the poor thing and I wanted to just call off the interview and stay with her. But I also didn’t want to reinforce her barking so I said a little prayer for her to stop and apologized to all the neighbors (in my head) and keep going.I couldn’t find the bus stop and ended up walking for an hour before just taking a taxi. Well the taxi guy was nice but took me to the wrong city and then of course blamed it on me.

I was late for the interview and feeling very drained emotionally we met and talked about the job. I was able to see a little of what she does and her interactions. She then asked me if I would like to do a trial day to see how it would go. She offered for me to do it this day so I did. I rode over to the nursery school where I would be working with the kids 1-2 years old. At first I felt kind of weird and out of my element. The teacher in charge wanted to talk and ask questions an d it felt so hard. I watched a little and then kind of jumped right in. I don’t know when it happened but I just clicked and had a blast with some really adorable little ones. I didn’t even think about me being on a trial day or this being part of an interview I just enjoyed the kids and it was fun seeing where they were developmentally. I even made a fiend with one little cute boy who was about 2 and had on the best outfit. As we went out to play for the second time a woman from the other classroom pulled me aside and reported that the head teacher had told her I was doing great and she was definitely pleased. So after working for about 2 hours I was done and the boss called me and offered me the position. I told her I would have to think about it, even though it would most likely be a yes. I knew that at least for the first couple weeks to a month I’d be in Jerusalem plus I was still concerned about Autumn adjusting.

When I returned to the apartment, it was quiet. She eventually came down and created me quietly. I had looked up how to cure separation anxiety and it was recommended not to make a big deal of leaving and returning. So I calmly said hey big girl and walked and did my thing with her following me. We had a pretty quiet afternoon as I did laundry, cooked some for (I had not yet eaten that day and it was all ready 2pm), and just walked around, still not feeling real.

Autumn and I dyed down to nap and then the house guests returned, saying hello, and of course causing Autumn to bark. they came up t the room and said hello to us, petting Autumn while she barked and made noises at them (she seems to like them and her them). I apologized for her barking in the morning and they were very sweet and kind in forgiving me/her. They said she only really barked for about 30 minutes and then she was fine so that made me feel a little better. I let them know that the weekend would be dedicated to me working on eliminating the barking when I leave. I let them know about the job and how the woman wanted me to start on Monday.

I then took a nap, because I was really exhausted, and woke up to another guest-I happened to have met her at shabbat dinner a few weeks back when I first came to this home. She was going grocery shopping for the family which  would be returning the following day (Friday). I then headed back upstairs, turned on some music and felt my mind kind of clear. I had decided I would take the job. the pay is low but it’s sufficient. I realized that by taking this job and moving to Tel Aviv I would be more free to have my online practice. On the plane I finished reading the book “Pushout” about black girls and how the school system is failing them. About these young women who are being exploited and trafficked by pimps and their process of healing. I thought about what my passion which is trauma work, and I wanted to do more for my community. For black girls. So I contacted Beacon Health options which handles Alameda county medi-cal and asked about online therapy and reimbursement. The paperwork was re-sent to me and I filled it out. I’m hoping that within a couple weeks I will have gotten approval and I can start seeing clients online and taking medi-cal.

So now it’s all beginning to feel a little more real. It’s a little more than 24 hours and even though I didn’t get to open my bank account (they were closed when I returned to Jerusalem) and I hadn’t chosen a phone company (or used my free 200 minutes on my sim card), I have a job and a temporary place to live. I know what my salary will be and I can start apartment hunting. I’m not feeling the inch for this, and I am prepared to hustle. I think once the family returns and Autumn meets them they were will be less anxiety on my part about leaving her in the mornings. I have never planned to live here more than a month, so I will check with the family to see if I can move after receiving my first paycheck just to be on the safe side. I have reached out about a roommate but I kind of like the idea of living alone, if I can make it happen.

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