Back home

to_do_list_returning-home

Give him space: check – Empty backpack and suitcase: check – Laundries (3 or 4): check – Store addresses: check I guess… A long day, that started at 4:00 am to get to JFK and pick-up the returning traveler.

Five weeks: they went so fast. Truth to the matter I certainly never had time to miss him. I told him so, because it does not mean I don’t love him, and that his presence in the family dynamics is not necessary, and that I don’t need to have him around, and that when he is away I miss having the moments we share, and that are priceless.

It just went crazy fast because I am busy with my own life, and because I was especially confident that he was having the adventure of a lifetime. And also, and above all because the organization is so flawless, that every plan was stored, that I could “follow” where he must have been, because the information-control-freak in me had everything in check from tracking the air travels to measuring the time of the day or the night with the time differences, to checking the weather. Not mentioning the scrutinizing each posted picture to decipher whether the proper shoes were on, that there was no sign of a broken limb or dehydrated body in the heat of the desert…

chameau

Reading the multiple blogposts published on NFTY Israel’s blog was also a treat. From what others -adults and teenagers alike- were writing, gave me the proper perspective I needed to follow, to imagine places I have never been to, and to make me dream or think of what it could be like for a sixteen year-old young man to be going through, coming from the relative comfort of a very privileged life in twenty-first century United States, when hitting that stage in life when you really need to confront your idealism to real life far, far away from the parental hovering and sheltering.

It also gave me so many opportunities to remember that I have been sixteen, some decades ago (centuries? oy veyz mir!) and what happened when I left, when I went on other sides of the world, and discovered my self without being a child anymore, how I came back transformed for ever and what a transition it had been, with so many points of no return…

Not anything to calm down any parental anxiety, that is for sure, but just because I could remember, I was so determined to let it happen, for the better and with joyful anticipation: my son is not me, and my experiences are not his, can’t be, but they can still educate me in listening, understanding, and being there for him when he needs it: and I am well aware that the cultural shock of coming back to the sameness that is left in the comfort of his home needs time and patience to set in.

Son back home after 11 hour flight
Back home from NFTY Israel 2013

Traveling back in time

This post is part of ROOTS – a series that originates on BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo – see what others are posting on the topic.

Roots: they are the stories that ground you, the food that returns you, the music that comforts you, and the people who know you. Everyone has roots that influence them, even if they don’t consciously know them or can’t access them.

Friday, June 14, 2013:

If your family has moved over time, have you ever traveled to the place your ancestors lived?

I am the one who moved.
I was born somewhere very far from where I live. I cannot easily decide that I am going to show my children the places I was cruising when I was their age. I often feel bad about it.

I realize it happened to my mother too. I used to hear stories about the place of her birth and youth all the time. It had a mythical touch. And then, same with my maternal grandmother. I remember the first time I visited her hometown, she had passed a long time before already, so I could not even ask her anything about her memories, if she had any of the city, and if the pictures I could take from it were showing big differences with her time.

A green window
Courtesy of ©Flickr – Michael Cory

There is some acute sadness about that. I guess I like it better to visit photo albums, to see glimpses of what it could have felt at the time the people I relate to where living there.

If I go back in time again, and try to figure out other places my ancestors had lived, or traveled through, I can’t really say that I am attracted to the idea of visiting those places, today. Yes, I would love to travel in time, in imagination and see how it looked back then. I like historic movies, or novels, much more than traveling, maybe for that reason. I am not so much of a good traveler I guess.

Once or twice I went visiting family or friends in the craddle of where my ancestors lived for centuries it seems. I remember these visits were not meant to be pilgrimages to where they lived, so I can’t say it left a particular impression on me. I do not seem to be wanting to be physically walking their steps to be able to spiritually reunite with them. Distance is painful when you want to craddle and have a hug, but I have no memories that this is what I received when I needed those hugs anyways.

The only time, I actually felt like I was really traveling to the place my ancestors lived, was a dramatic occurence. Because of my mental illness, back in 1987, I had a severe episode of mania, and had to be hospitalized and drugged with antipsychotic drugs to stop the dangerous spiral I was in. This was what it looked from the outside world which I was not in anymore, mentally speaking. The rush of whatever chemicals that my brain was producing was taking me to places back in time, and I hallucinated about all my ancestors coming back to me to support me in recovering.

It was a very powerful hallucination – not scary at all, because it had none of the horror movie features that are usually associated with this kind of scenario. It was more like a very warm and fuzzy family reunion, or rather a family visiting the sick person I was, and they were all coming to my bedside to encourage me to feel better and to get better. I certainly could recognize some of the grandparents, then figured out the great-grand-parents and so on, from generation to generation, it was seemingly endless procession of ancestors, all lovingly coming to my rescue.

It felt like the most ancient ones where coming from the Garden of Eden, bringing healing fruit from the Tree of Life, encouraging me to choose the right path: because they were two paths on that journey, and I did not exactly know which door was leading to which path, I had to make a choice by myself. A beautiful woman who was my ancestor from before times were even recorded, named Lilith, guided me in her own way, and I ended up chosing the road to recovery.

When I need to find solace, I do try to go back to the place she was and remember her ways and her guidance, surrounded by my entire family through time as a supporting strength to face my difficulties. That’s definitely how I travel the best.

 Click for the other posts of the series