I have a tendency to say things I don’t mean.
Or, rather, say things I mean, but wish I hadn’t said or wish I had thought through before saying out loud.
This is not a new tendency.
It’s a delightful and attractive trait I’ve possessed since the 2nd grade when my teacher Ms. Levin aptly, but inappropriately, nicknamed me Motor Mouth.
Since moving to Israel, however, I’ve developed — like a nervous tick — a pause between thinking and speaking.
At first, I resented this seemingly cowardly pause.
I’ve always liked being quick and clever and as I met new people here, I was often disappointed that Israelis weren’t able to get to know the clever me. She was always hiding behind her immigrant smile, trying to figure out exactly how to conjugate her joke into past tense.
By the time I figured out how, of course, it was two Tuesdays too late.
But once I made a few friends who I could speak freely with in English, and who appreciated my less-than-sophisticated humor, I no longer resented the pause, but relished it.
I relish it still. This is truly an added-value of aliyah. (This, and the fact that my kids have all learned to dance with no help from me.)
The pause I’ve developed in between thinking and speaking allows me to be more compassionate. Caring.
I’m like Michael in the parking lot of the bowling alley of Grease 2.
Of course, my English speaking friends are capable of destroying my mystery girl image in an instant; if and when anyone cares to find out more about mysterious ole me.
But for a few days or weeks or months, when new people move in to my community, let them think of me as “the lovely girl who thinks so carefully before she speaks.”
Not motor mouth.
Not compulsive, impulsive, chatty, sometimes accidentally on purpose offensive Jen.
That mystery girl