Years ago, decades ago, after a nasty heartbreak, I moved to a new city. Each time I exited the highway on the way to my new home, I trained myself to say, "When I see this particular landmark, that means I''m home." It wasn''t intuitive. It took some deliberate self-convincing for me to call this new place "home."
I first came to Israel in 1996. It would be a lie to say that I felt immediately at home. I certainly found Israel interesting, but it would be untrue to say that I was overcome with the immediate sense that Israel is my true home.
As we returned, year after year, to visit, I noticed things, mostly visual, that I came to associate with Israel. Sand dunes on the way to the grocery store. Hebrew on shopping bags and food packaging. Dramatic hills and valleys, so different from the flat East Coast terrain with which I was familiar. The red roofs that mark Jewish settlement. Hebrew road signs. Arab buildings. Bedouin encampments. Chayalim in uniform.
Every time we left, I felt sad to part from these precious visuals. And each time we returned, I felt a wholeness in being reunited with them.
I have always been drawn to the combination of olive green, brown and burgundy. There is a poetic way to say this in Hebrew - צבעים אלה למצוא חן בעיני - these colors find favor in my eyes. Our previous home was decorated in olive green, brown and burgundy. Even my husband has come to think of them as "our colors."
Today, on the bus ride home, as my eyes drank in the exact visuals that I always cherish (but sometimes forget to notice), I realized that "our colors" are basically the colors of the Israeli landscape.
This month, on completely different itineraries, for various reasons and for varying lengths of time, everyone in my immediate family will be spending time in America. Except for me. Despite the fact that I have not yet found an even remotely adequate substitute for the kosher Chinese restaurant we left behind, I have no desire to leave.