Friday, October 21, 2005

...And then there was culture shock

We're now headed into month two of our return. So what would my evaluation include at the moment?

For the most part, we are faring well. I'm getting published regularly, Raphael is in school, Tonny and I are barely bickering and we are all adoring the weather, the beach, the sunsets, the immersion and the culture. Raph & I have had some heated tussles over his obsessive, Spiderman costume habit, but it could be worse (no it couldn't, i.e.: guilt)

People - my mother, friends who made aliya, other friends who have moved on the global scale, etc. - cautiously ask how I'm doing. Optimistically I report about goings-on, providing upbeat accounts of the day-to-day and marveling over the apparent culture shock gone missing. I effervescently relay to friends and relations: "I keep expecting the floor to drop out, but so far it hasn't happened! Wow! Did I escape it?"

And then yesterday, whilst listening to an NPR Radio report my San Francisco pal Jo e-mailed, I startle to find tears streaming down my face. "What brought this on?" I internally muse.

And the retort, much as I loathe admitting, is that culture shock has been lurking somewhere in the shadows simply waiting for Jo to send that link. The link with the radio announcer whose voice oozes ease, fingerpaintings taped to the fridge, dry cleaning, car pools and over-sized mugs of freshly brewed, horrible tasting Folger's coffee.

A lifestyle I would slash my wrists over. But one, nonetheless, that doesn't involve screaming at government clerks, sitting in a car for four hours in darkness on the Jerusalem/Tel Aviv highway awaiting roadside aid or attending an upscale fundraiser in a cheap, chiffon style (okay, polyester blend), ankle-length skirt/ matching top and being the most over-dressed female in attendance.

Yes, my old friend culture shock has arrived for a visit, or so the symptoms would indicate. "why have i been in such a crap mood these past few days?" I ask tonny innocently. And now I know.

So the floor didn't fall out, after all. There was simply a thunder storm and the roof leaked.

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