As of February 12, 2016 I have lived in Israel for two years.
A couple of days before I left Long Beach, one of my co-workers and I were chatting. Aware that I had been woefully unmarried for too long, she told me: "You are going to meet the love of your life within six months of arriving in Israel." She was right! Neither of us considered that the "love of my life" would be this country, not a person.
Looking back, my biggest regret in life is that I did not visit Israel to study or live after I finished high school. But now that I'm here, I am very content. We are a nation of immigrants where passengers applaud their flight landing and where new arrivals frequently kiss the ground at the airport. As an "olah hadashah" (a new immigrant), the greetings I hear from everyone are "Welcome!" and "Congratulations!"
I reached here later in my life, so I've had far fewer challenges than younger immigrants. I'm retired and do not have to worry about employment (location, transportation, clothes, Hebrew fluency); I don't need a car (the bus stop is 150 meters from my apartment; the train station is one kilometer away). There are no concerns with child care or children in school. My biggest struggles are my lack of energy (remnants of the Mononucleosis/EBV that attacked me soon after my arrival) and my insufficient Hebrew skills. Most Israelis speak English and I could get by, but for me it is not OK to move to a country and fail to speak the native language. I am presently attending my fifth ulpan (Hebrew Conversation, Level 2). My goal is to speak Hebrew adequately. I will not give up! (Luckily I've always had that stubborn-persistent Israeli-thing going for me.)
Of course there are many things here to improve; countless changes to make; numerous difficulties and issues to fix. (Just ask anyone.) But all in all I'm very proud of my birthplace. Israel is the country that places field hospitals along the border to treat our enemies injured in their own civil war; we send doctors to assist refugees upon their traumatic arrival on the shores of Greece. Israel dispatched a 250-person delegation with doctors and trained military personnel to support the people of Nepal after their devastating earthquake. We're the ones who "battle" terrorism by mandating that Israeli schools teach Arabic and by authorizing work permits for 30,000 EXTRA Palestinians.
Every day I ache for my son Bo, who is meeting many (exciting) experiences in his life without me there to support him; I miss my devoted and wonderful sister like a limb; I long for the hugs, laughter, love and support of my friends. I crave Mexican food and can barely endure without Target and Costco. BUT, I am so happy that I live here and I'm so elated to be in love with my country. There is no other place like it on earth.
Happy Aliyah-versary to me!