Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lonely In Jerusalem

12.31.2013 - 

After the army, my brother moved to Jerusalem to study at the Hebrew University. For me, seven years his junior, his life there seemed like pure magic, and I knew that this was exactly what I wanted for myself. So when the time came, I too enrolled at the Hebrew University, fully expecting the same.

However, in the meantime, between enrollment and the start of Fall semester, something significant and unexpected had happened. I fell in love with a young man who eventually became my husband. Tzvi was a student in Haifa, some 200 km north of Jerusalem. As Haifa was my hometown, the idea of attending school there seemed out of the question; besides, my boyfriend never explicitly asked me to stay.

Because of our new circumstances, Tzvi and I looked for an apartment in Jerusalem which could accomodate both of us on the weekends. We  found a studio apartment in a residential neighbourhood; there were no students around, but it promised privacy.

Together we fixed up the apartment and made it cozy and attractive; everything was perfect. But when the semester started and Tzvi went back to Haifa, I was left there all alone, and knew no one in  that city.

My brother was no longer in town, and he had left me the phone number of his good friends. I decided to call them and they invited me for dinner on  that same night.  I had never met them before, and thought that they were much older than me, they were married, had a little boy, in short they were a family. In reality they were graduate students in their late twenties, yet everything about them seemed sophisticated and glamorous.

They were also warm and hospitable, and encouraged me to come over as often as I wished. If I hadn’t had pride I would have gone there almost every day, but I spaced the days between my visits carefully so that I wouldn’t seem desperate. I didn’t want them to know that I was lonely.

I was a student at the university of my choice, and had my own studio apartment, and still I was unhappy. In my enthusiasm about having a place for us on the weekends, I had forgotten about all the days in between. I spoiled my university experience by isolating myself and ended up not living the life that I had hoped to have. But I was only 19 and didn’t know how to fix it. Visiting the lovely family and seeing their happy life emphasized all that was wrong with my own.

I decided to move  back to Haifa, and several months later got married. Haifa University wasn't that bad after all, and while we didn’t have a typical university experience, it was fine, and we were very happy.

Afterwards as an adult, I only saw the kind  family from Jerusalem once or twice.  I always believed that we would meet again, and yet we didn’t. On this day, December 31st 2006, the lovely lady whom I met as a student passed away. I deeply regret that I never got to tell her how meaningful she was to me as the time, and how those happy visits with her  family influenced my decision to marry and start my own family

My sorrow over this missed opportunity brought about change: as "tomorrow is promised to no one," I try, whenever possible, to see those who are dear to me today.

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