I’ve been in the States for a few days now, my first time out of Israel in over two years.
I just wanted to share some observations, if I may, through the eyes of the (often unnecessarily) overly observant.
Israel vs The States: Simple Differences
First of all, here are a handful of small differences between Israel and the States, things that I can’t help but notice each time I come back:
- There’s a real lot of water in the toilets in the States. It certainly has it’s advantages. However, it does play tricks on the mind though. The toilets in the US always look like an Israeli toilet when it overflows. It can be a little jarring sometimes.
- And while we’re in the bathroom… something that’ll never make sense to me about Israel is why bathroom light switches are on the outside of the room. And despite the senselessness, you still can get used to just about anything. And boy is it odd how many times I’ll walk into a bathroom here… and turn on the hallway light while feeling confused as I walk into a pitch black bathroom.
- Maybe it’s overstated at this point, but the shopping experience in the two countries couldn’t be more different. Everyone in the States is oozing an artificial politeness; whereas in Israel you’re still lucky if you can even get a clerk’s attention.* The variety of choices is beyond overwhelming here. And, boy oh boy, I can’t tell you how excited I was at having the option to put that amazing little plastic divider thing in between customers’ groceries. It was a small slice of heaven. Oh Israel, please figure that one out soon!
I was beyond ecstatic to cross a major item off my bucket list right away on the trip. I got the unbelievable experience of flying Business Class for the first time in my life. And man oh man, the differences couldn’t be more pronounced.
Several times throughout the flight I had to walk around and take a peak into coach just to remind myself how much of an upgrade this really was. It was like driving my Mercedes out from the mansion in order to come and peak at those on skid row, who were eating dirt off the floor and wallowing in their own filth.
I almost feel guilty for how much I enjoyed it!
Back in coach, you’re cramped into a wobbly little box, eating off of paper and plastic, while those of us enjoying the pleasantries of fame and fortune are lounging with couch-like comfort, and getting champagne from flight attendants who are actually acting as if they want us there.
Weddings: Israel vs. The States
While here in the States I attended a wedding. The wedding was lovely with tons of delicious food. However, if there’s ever been something that I love more about Israel than America, it’s the weddings. True, it’s very possible that at an Israeli wedding (or even a funeral) someone might answer their cellphone. And there might be an unfortunate cloud of cigarette smoke that wafts over the ceremony.
However, the same ultra-laid back environment that creates these unfortunate realities, also creates weddings that are objectively more fun and entertaining. You’re inherently more at ease due to the extremely lax dress code. There’s nothing more refreshing than wearing an untucked white shirt and sandals at a wedding! And who doesn’t love just piling around the ceremony? No seats, no patterns, few expectations. You just come, stand, and enjoy.
All of this combines together with a society that simply adores weddings, and you have a beautiful recipe for an event that is fun and non-stop excitement.
Date Night: Part 1
Last night was date night, a rare combination of shopping in excess and the mass excitement and stimulation of Dave and Buster’s. I didn’t have a lot of goals for this trip, but one was to introduce my beautiful bride to the entertaining wonder that is Dance Dance Revolution (the greatest arcade game in the world).
Sadly, they didn’t have the original. They had the far inferior (and much weirder) Japanese version. I’m not going to lie. It was super fun and I did get a bit sweaty along the way. But it still doesn’t hold a candle to the original.
The world is a crazy place, where you can have what feels like a giant amusement park smack in the middle of a food court of a local mall. I don’t see such things coming to Jerusalem anytime soon, but that would certainly add a bit of fun and color to a relatively colorless city.
Odds and Ends
Today my beautiful fiancé and I went hat shopping (check out the post’s picture), saw the absolute best view of the New York City skyline from the Staten Island Ferry, and were mesmerized by all the Christmas lights covering Staten Island homes. I am not even close to a fan of my hometown, but to date, one of the best things about this ridiculous borough is the over-the-top decoration insanity that dominates the month of December.
So, my initial thoughts of my big return to the States: The land of plenty is still the overly simplistic mecca of stores on top of stores. It’s still quite frustrating how required a vehicle is to live comfortably in most places. And in a short period of time, I seem to have consumed enough sodium to kill a small rhino.
But honestly, I miss it. I miss the ease of the States. I miss the variety. And the ability to hunt for bargains. I miss customer service. And I miss English. I miss endless fun activities. And I missed my parents so damn much.
And let’s not forget those lovely dividers in the supermarket. God, do I miss those! (Part 2)
*For the record, one store clerk (of unknown gender) was completely obnoxious to me… leading me to feel a bit homesick. I called it “Israeli-style customer service”.
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