on my 3rd cup of tea today. afternoon tea is such a treat. I had Pu-Erh (organic, looseleaf) sent to me like the snobby pampered American that I am. Er, that I used to be.
These are heavy days for me. I have to admit that I have not been the even-keel person I recognize as myself since moving here. I don’t recognize myself some days.
It’s more complicated than that, of course.
It’s not entirely the move that has got me down. In fact, I love Ramallah.
My stress is coming from an untenable lifestyle that I am completely unwilling to give up in order to stay and be happy here. I am certain people think I compare life here to life in the states and Ramallah comes up short, but that’s not it either. I don’t compare, actually. People who know me know that.
But I do have certain things I consider personally essential to a happy life as a mother.
The list used to be quite long, actually, but it has been whittled down to this:
for me and for my children. Available community. People to share our time with. People to come for impromptu dinners, go to the park with, call when I am feeling overwhelmed. People for me to have coffee with—without my kids. People to have coffee with me and my kids. Women to connect with. People who want to get to know us, and know me, and vice versa.
I feel like such an outsider here. It doesn’t help that I have spent so much time alone with my children by now that adult conversation makes me sound like an idiot! I stumble through my sentences and reveal too much all at once: I’m craving connection. I sound (and I am) desperate. I wish it wasn’t so.
I have not been…
It has been a real downer lately that my inner resources have not been as stalwart as I would like. I have not been as empathetic or patient with my children as I used to be. It’s a blip, not a trend, but still. It sucks (oh, and I am not as eloquent as I used to be either.)
I have not been as happy or positive with my husband as I would like. I have not been as understanding or forgiving with myself as I need to be to get through this.
Then again, I have been alone A LOT since moving here. And my baby girl has been in serious sleep regression AGAIN, making me sleep deprived and exhausted. My playgroup became a diminishing returns situation, such that while I spent all day prepping and cleaning and making snacks (creating lots of frenetic stress) and no one was showing up. I canceled it. There just isn’t the interest in that kind of “hippy mama” play group that makes me happy and comfortable. I mean, I like to see my kids playing and snacking and not necessarily “doing” anything (nothing structured). And my kids like it that way, too. But I got the sense that moms here wanted the group to be “about” something, like art time or stretching or sports. That just isn’t the age kids I have, and it isn’t my forte to organize activities for all the guests. I just wanted to hang out a bit. C’est la vie.
So here we are. Every time I get out of the house I fall deeper in love with Ramallah and with Palestine. How could I not? It’s lovely. It’s beautiful, and things here are so much sweeter and more real than what I have experienced before in my life. Yes, things are less organized and more chaotic and more dirty, but there are things that happen here that happen no where else (good and bad, of course). I love it.
Then every time I am stuck at home wanting to scream with no one to call for perspective I mentally pack my bags. I mentally buy a plane ticket for each of us. I mentally cross the Jisser and get on a plane.
But where to?
I don’t want to leave. And an interesting thing has happened to me since moving here: I cannot live in the US again. At least not now. The scales have dropped. I cannot see life the way I used to, and it leaves me feeling empty to think of just going back to life as it was. I can’t imagine it right now.
I am even afraid to talk about how things really are here. Afraid to talk about it on this blog and afraid to tell my friends because the gulf that has formed between my reality and theirs will swallow me up forever away from them. And I don’t want that. I miss them, and I love them. I have intelligent friends who are anything but insular in their world view, but American life foists a kind of insulation from everywhere and everything else onto every citizen. You have to fight against it, and you have to know to fight against it in the first place. And people are busy.
In a perfect world I could talk to them and make them understand me from here, the me who is going forward from this move to Palestine the occupied. But that’s asking a lot.
Then again, if friendship endures it has to endure with a lot of flexibility. At least, that’s how I see it.
In summary, I’m in search of community and waiting to understand how I can make staying here work. And in the meantime, I miss my friends.