I’m a nomad. When people ask where I’m from I have no simple answer. I’ve learned to say “New York,” as a quick response but anything deeper is a lesson in geography, cross-cultural competence and family dynamics.
I was born in Israel in 1969 to an American mother, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, and an Israeli father, whose parents emigrated to Israel in 1932. I spent my first eleven years in a suburban town near the Mediterranean Sea taking piano lessons against my will, in exchange for gymnastics and ballet. I sported Adidas warm-up suits, and my record player worked over-time playing Bee Gees and Abba. In 1979 we moved to Johannesburg, South Africa for two years, where my father studied high-risk obstetrical anomalies. I landed in Westchester County, New York for high school.
South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere and summer vacation there is around December. This caused lots of confusion regarding my proper class placement both upon arrival and departure, resulting in a confusing middle school experience. I skipped fifth grade, attending all of sixth and seventh grades, but only four months of eighth. That made for all sorts of messy transitions and has significantly impeded my math skills. I was the only freshman in my high school Algebra class with a sub-par understanding of fractions and decimals. How I passed calculus levels I and II in college, and why I chose to take those classes in the first place is a boring and insane anecdote for another time.
English is not my first language – another complicating factor during all these moves. Although my mother spoke English, the language was passive for me, and I had to learn how to read and write in sixth grade. I’m somewhat grammar obsessed, possibly as a need to overcompensate for any deficiencies. Today I’m bilingual in Hebrew and English.
I had always planned to return to Israel, serve in the army and make my life there. My parents eventually talked me into staying in the U.S., where I attended college and law school. Meeting my boyfriend (now husband) in college sealed my future here, and I soon became an early 90s yuppie like so many of my friends.
While I always yearned to be the kid who lived in the same house since birth, with grandparents and cousins next door, my love for adventure and fresh prospects prevailed. The transitions I whined about made me resilient, and not only open to, but truly welcoming of change. My sentiments must have been somewhat contagious as my husband and I moved from New York City to several towns on Long Island, and then to New Jersey. We also owned a home in Vermont for many years and adore New England. Now, after nine homes, two kids and a dog, we’ve been in Pennsylvania for four years.
I had planned on going back to work as a lawyer as soon as we arrived in PA (a more unrealistic thought had never crossed my mind). Who was going to see my kids off to school? Who was going to shop, cook, manage activities, and play chauffeur all afternoon? I knew that I could manage these logistics (millions of other mothers do) had I been dying to delve head-first into the practice of law.
My husband was supportive, offering all sorts of alternatives and plans, which I regularly sabotaged and shot down as impractical. I quickly realized and I must confess that I had suspected this for years, I was ready for something new – but what? Focusing on the negatives and showing up to my daily pity party was indulgent, and even sickly satisfying for a while, especially as it required a lot of self-absorption. Convincing myself of all the things I “couldn’t do” was not only time consuming but very exhausting. It left me depleted of the energy to pursue what I really wanted to do.
I finally found the courage to admit that I had a passion for writing, and that my urge to spew words onto paper had been nagging at me for more than ten years. I perceive and process life as a story. It is baffling that it took me this long, given my tripe A-type personality.
I’m now a freelance writer – exploring what it feels like to live way outside my comfort zone. I’ve published several articles and blog for The Times of Israel. I’m also working on a manuscript on the years I spent in South Africa during Apartheid. In my blog I hope to open my crazy life to you — something that’s hard for me to do — hoping that we all learn something, but mostly share our mutual experiences. And perhaps a much needed laugh.