Finding my way home
April 11, 2012 @ 14:43:pm
Ever since my high school years, I’ve dreamed and fantasized about living in New York City, a place I’ve never been to back then. But when I arrived here over 12 years ago, staying was not nearly my plan. I was with a friend, on our way to a post-army trip to Mexico. We never made it there.
I remember arriving at the big city, looking up the tall buildings and feeling blown away, like I wanted more and more. I saw a sign that summed it up, saying “Too much is not enough.”
I loved the fact that I could do anything and everything anytime of the day or night, that I had nobody watching over me and that I could shape myself, my future, in any way I wanted. I loved being anonymous, living in my own bubble, facing no judgments from my neighbors or from a far away place called home.
I found a number of gigs to make money, discovered the city, moved around and lived in numerous Manhattan neighborhoods, met all sorts of different people, went out to fabulous parties and really began to know this city. I started studying and earned a degree.
I was so ambitious and truly felt I had so many opportunities, like an internship at a glamorous magazine, an amazing job in a big company, an apartment in the heart of Chelsea. I did all of that (along with my husband) and we loved it! I became a real New Yorker and started to understand the “language” of the city, its vibe. I was living a good life.
Some six years ago we decided to have a child, moved to Park Slope and had a baby boy, Omri. Things started changing for me and I no longer wanted to be an anonymous person. I wanted a community, some roots and deeper relationships. I started struggling with the fact that I lived far from Israel and the dilemma of where to build my family slowly became an obsession. I was talking about it nonstop with anyone who would listen (driving my husband crazy in the process). Any Israeli who decided to move back rocked my world and I started to believe that life would be good if we did the same. With that said, I could never bring myself to leave.
I would have high and lows regarding Israel. One day a friend from Israel would say, ‘Sharon, you were never that Israeli anyway’, and I would think he was right and I should really stay put and then, another day, someone else would tell me how she felt friendships were stronger there and I would want to pack my bags. These very small anecdotes started to dominate my point of view and my life. This went on for a long time and made me very unstable. An Israeli woman who’s been living here for over 40 years told me: ‘Just decide, even if you’re not sure, otherwise you will go crazy.” She was so right! This was not fair to my husband, my kids or myself. I was not living the here and the now, only the thoughts of where and what could be.
I also began realizing I may be too afraid of Israel, that it’s to rough for me after years among polite, law-abiding Americans. I decided to stop feeling guilty that I live far away. I understood that, most likely, I am romanticizing my memories and the life I could have in Israel. My kids will be just fine living here in a warm, loving home. I can offer them an amazing life here. The education system can be very good and we don’t need to be wealthy to afford an excellent school (which is the subject of a whole other discussion).
Finally, I realized that I love New York so much and appreciate the diversity and all the unique things it has to offer. This is where I feel most comfortable.
When I tell Israelis that I think I chose my life here in New York, some are amazed and shocked. Like they can’t comprehend how could that be. But I think we all had different childhoods, experiences and paths that define who we are and what we decide to do. In my case – at least for now – Brooklyn is where my home is and I no longer look back.
And just as a proof that vastly different individual journeys can lead to the same destination, especially if that place is Brooklyn, NY, here is a beautiful personal story I love: