Beer and olives.
I ordered Tuborg Red mostly.
Sometimes Taybeh in hopes that I was somehow doing good for the West Bank.
Today I remembered that I used to drink lagers all the time. IPAs were scarce in The Land.
And the olives?
Always green. And always free with my drink.
Probably one of the best billboards I saw in Israel, mainly because…
Spoiler Alert: Carlsberg is not great. No probably there.
Just realized it has been a full 6 months since returning to Minnesota. Strange to think that this was about the amount of time that I was away from not only this state, but this country.
I feel like it has taken this long for me to find some peace after leaving Israel; which, is ironic considering that most people think of the middle east as a place exploding with conflict. No denial on my part regarding the turmoil and unrest frothing over in that part of the world. But also, I think one of the main reasons it’s easy for us Americans to think of it this way is due to the fact that we often ignore the strife occurring in our own cities, towns, and neighborhoods. No one in that part of the world is trying to pretend like conflict doesn’t exist. Or that they don’t have an opinion. In fact, even if you don’t ask, they might just go ahead and give you their perspective anyway. Or ask you about yours. There really is no limit as to what you might be asked over there.
Age, religion, political stance, personal life details.
I was asked these questions on a regular basis. By so many people that I did not know very well, if at all.
I just found some words I had written to a friend during my first week living in Israel.
“Israelis are pretty intimidating for me. You know, I’m pretty soft-spoken and not usually aggressive. But so many of them are loud as well as able to say exactly what they think. Still adjusting to all of it.”
It’s funny to look back at these words because I would say the opposite now. “Minnesotans are pretty intimidating for me. So many of them are passive aggressive and don’t tell me when they’re upset with or have an opinion of me. I hear the words ‘I’m sorry’ more times than I can count within a day and it mostly happens when I walk in front of someone else.”
“I’m sorry.” Spoken by a flight attendant, these were the first words I heard upon arriving to the MSP airport.
For a long time, the abrupt honesty I encountered in Israel bothered me, mainly because every time I told someone I was 21 they told me how young I was. That frustrated me because I didn’t feel young at all. I mean really, I went to live in the Middle East without having a single connection over there prior to doing so.
Yet, as usual, I learned that I was wrong. I am young. And for some reason, this realization has relieved me of a lot of stressful thoughts I’ve had in the past few years. Feeling like a failure. Feeling like I need to have all of my problems sorted out and neatly collected together. Feeling like I already know who I will be ten years from now. I had a lot of “nice” conclusions roughly complied together and suddenly, the foreign environment I placed myself in elicited longings I realized I had been suppressing for the sake of “having it all together.”
After giving myself permission to depart from my preconceived notions of what it meant to be mature and responsible, I found that the self-acceptance I embraced suddenly allowed me the freedom to invest time and energy into whatever I wanted to. Not what I thought would be necessary or “good for me.” This is exactly what I was missing. I didn’t always do the right thing or escape from embarrassing mistakes but, I was able to tell myself, “Anna, this doesn’t define you. You define you.”
I will discover a spectrum of happiness throughout my life. However, I know that even in my loneliness I will be fine. During those past hard days, I just had to find the gaze of my reflection in the mirror and tell myself that I was going to be ok. Even if deep down inside I 100% did not agree.
Sometimes you just gotta fake it ’til you make it.
Maybe in the next few months I’ll be able to reflect about these past 6 months. Similar to my experience in Israel, I have been forced to deal with situations and experiences that I never would have thought I was ready for.