Sunday, February 20, 2011
Goodbye to Tel Aviv Israel
As I went my way through the Ben Gurion Tel Aviv Airport departure gate, I passed by the café where I had my first coffee in the City.
I remember clearly that my first day in Israel was a Thursday, which was the last working day of the week in this country. But I can’t help but note my arrival quite vividly because of another reason; I arrived in Israel a day after my birthday.
Imagine having to celebrate my birthday 36,000 feet in the air. But I was numb, and I was having stomach ache almost throughout the flight.
The fact is that I didn’t care much about the occasion – I don’t celebrate it when I am on land either - seriously.
October 19, 2005 I arrived at the Land of Milk and Honey. As the plane was about to land, I had glimpses of the city. It was like a large expanse of white boxes spread all over it. These boxes I learned later are the Bauhaus apartments. Unfortunately I was not able to live in one as the apartment I stayed was one of the more modern in Jaffa.
In my five years in Israel, I got to visit the Ben Gurion every so often as we had to greet newly arrived officers and staff of the embassy and send off and say our farewells to those who finally had to leave the country after 6 years.
Fast forwarding the events, I found myself for the last time in Ben Gurion in November 19, 2010, my final day of stay in Israel.
At the airport we went straight to the line where I could check in my luggage. Leaving the country from Ben Gurion Tel Aviv airport (was there any other possible way for me) can be difficult and feeling uneasy. I was quite anxious about the usual questions like what did I do for five years in Israel and where I stayed.
Of course, there was the standard question of whether I had in me anything in my luggage for other people. While I know it was normal procedure, I am sure being thrown with questions such as these makes anyone feel like an offender of sorts.
After having successfully checked in, we realized there was still time for some chatting and breakfast. Last breakfast was at Mcdonalds; I believe I had some McNuggets. But I could barely eat at all. I gave my food instead to the kids who had a more hearty appetite.
I lingered around for a few minutes around the airport. Having passed by a foreign currency exchange shop, thought about exchanging some of my dollars into Euros, but decided that I could just do it in France.
8:30 AM, final farewells were said, as well as promises on constant communication via emails and face book.
Tears fell. Shamelessly these were mine.
It was difficult to say goodbye to people whom you were constantly with for five straight years.
It was even more difficult to leave a country you considered like your own.
Israel was truly second home to me.
I will miss it so much.
And Pishpeshim, too.
Tel Aviv beach.
Yerushalayim at Yafo and its fruit stands and dollar stores.
Heck, I'll even miss Ikea Israel.
I ask myself from time to time - will I be able to go back? I would not rack my brain just to come up with any possibilities.
However, I might jump on a plane bound for Tel Aviv in a heartbeat, if given the chance. Indeed, I probably would.
But frankly, only time can tell.