When do you decidedly fit into a nation?
Is it when you feel confident in a voting booth?
Is it when you feel the urge to buy cotton harem pants that drop just below the knee?
Is it when you recognize the country’s top celebs?
If so, I’m not there yet.
Yesterday, on my drive into Tel Aviv for a meeting, I noticed a billboard for The Voice staring down at me from high above the freeway. Four faces: And none were remotely recognizable to me.
I couldn’t relate to the dress or hairstyle on any of the four. None looked like my friend, my father, or even someone I’d choose to be on of my top 5 list “freebies.”
Where am I? I thought.
Tel Aviv, my self answered.
And I live here? I thought.
No, not in Tel Aviv. And that’s part of the problem.
I live in the outskirts. I live a sheltered life.
But what happens when you live a quiet, sheltered life on purpose is this feeling of complete and utter disconnect. It takes a lot longer, presumably, to feel like an “Israeli” among Israelis.
Of course, part of the problem is I have a nice big fat crutch called “English.”
I work mostly in English. Many of my friends speak in English.
I stick to my English books on my Kindle and the little TV I watch is in English.
At some point in the last six months or so, I stopped trying so hard to fit in.
Which on the one hand makes my life a lot easier, but on the other hand keeps me stuck feeling like a tourist in this country. A foreigner. An outsider.
I’m a lot less lost than I was two years ago, but I’m not quite found yet either.
Which is okay.
Think about it, I told myself as I parked the car in Ramat Gan.
You spent 30-something years in New Jersey, and you never quite found yourself there either.
Nor could I relate to the celebrities plastered on billboards. Nor were any of those celebs on my “top 5 freebie list.”