About Me :)

I got married and made aliya five and a half years ago, all in the space of 3 days. And that is where this blog begins

יום שלישי, 22 בפברואר 2011

My new aliya, my new married life

I didn't get to do the Nefesh B'Nefesh flight. There was no tearful airport scene. For me, aliya went like this: I got married to my wonderful Israeli/Temani fiance, and three days later, I was on a flight with my new Israeli/Temani husband to Israel. Officially, I was making aliya, and, well, he was not. So whenever I am asked about my aliya experience, I invariably get to have the "we-made-aliya- ... that-is,- I-made-aliya-... of-course-he-did-not-make-aliya-in-fact-he-never-even-got-on-an-airplane-until-he-met-me" conversation. Hey, I'm not complaining or anything. It's cool that my story is a different one. Then again, did it have to be *that* different?

On Friday afternoon, we touched down in Ben Gurion, and I was whisked downstairs to an office. I'm not even sure which office, or who and how they identified me at the airport. It's a blur. I filled out aliya forms in the mystery office while my husband, my new father-in-law, and my husband's friend, collected our 15 wedding-present filled suitcases off the conveyer belt. Eventually, we all made it into a mini-van cab, myriad suitcases in tow, and headed home. To Petach Tikva. To live with my in-laws. For the next 6 months.

Sorry, did I forget to mention the living-with-the-in-law thing? Well, yes, that was the next leg of my non-standard aliya journey. Or marriage journey. Well, for me, it was really one and the same. Shari Shuter-Jovani, slash newlywed, slash ola chadasha, thrust into life with an old-world Temani couple, in an old-world Temani apartment, complete with old-world speckled floor tiles, and old-world plumbing. 

To be fair, it wasn't their fault. My in-laws wanted to give us our newly married privacy. They also wanted privacy. But there we were, in our little Israeli apartment, just one Big Fat Temani+one little American ex pat Family. You see, they were waiting to move into their own apartment, but the newly-built building which housed said apartment had not yet obtained its Certificate of Occupancy. Until six months later. Well, on the plus side, I got to finally experience, first hand, a whopping dose of Israeli bureaucracy. The real deal, my friend. The. Real. Deal. And I'll leave it at that.

Let's get back to the cab ride home from the airport. When we finally arrived home, I experienced a post-flight exhaustion unlike any post-flight exhaustion I'd ever felt. I promptly headed off to shluffy land. I remember getting up at some point to use the bathroom, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw my new husband and in-laws singing zmirot at the Shabbat table. I was feeling so out of body, that I registered that scene as if I caught it while flipping channels on tv. My exhaustion was such that I did not even consider joining them. So, I went back to bed, and when I came to, it was morning, and my husband was a bit concerned about me. Was I feeling okay? Do I remember where I am? What's my name? Do I remember getting married? Once he was satisfied that I was fully oriented, we got on with being married. 

That's right, we went happily about our new married life in Israel. Despite the old-fashioned apartment and neighborhood, despite having to spend all day with my new mother in law until I started working, despite not having enough space to unpack the 15 wedding-present-filled suitcases. I bonded with my new husband. And we implemented a 'privacy plan', whereby we'd take a mini-vacation in a different city every Shabbat. I also befriended my only other blood relative who had made Aliya 13 years prior, my cousin Carol, who was ecstatic to finally have an American family member within a 25 minute drive of her house. Although I had not seen her for years, she welcomed me with open arms, and we bonded immediately.

See, that is the thing about Israel; no time is wasted on formalities, etiquette, or awkwardness. You feel connected with those around you. Even with non-relatives. Even with the corner makolet guy. I was thrust into a different culture, with different smells, tastes, and very different personalities. I was 12 flight hours away from the place I called home for 33 years. Thus began my new life in Israel, and my new marriage. Challenging? Yes. Scary? At times.
And yet, I felt more at home than ever before.