The world opened up again.
It was a brilliant thing to watch. I got to go to my gym. People are out and about. It almost feels like it’s a completely normal country and that we can breathe a little. We can almost smell the end to this horrendous pandemic that has brought a halt to our lives for over a year now.
Normality is an Illusion
Yes, I know Israel’s unique in this and until the world fixes itself up, normality is an illusion. A pipe dream.
I still can’t visit my parents. India and Brazil are a mess and who knows what kind of impact that will have worldwide and long term. And the infection and death rates globally just keep rising and rising.
But for now, we can happily pretend like we are looking at Covid in the rearview mirror.
But that’s not what I wanted to speak about today.
I’ve had my fair share of gripes about the lovely people who share the Holy Land with me. And as much as I definitely didn’t forget all the things that frustrated me, Covid had the welcome accidental benefit of dulling things, even if just a little.Until the world fixes itself up, normality is an illusion. A pipe dream. Click To Tweet
Israelis are a Little Louder
With the school across the street closed, I didn’t hear screaming and obnoxiously loud music all day long. With crowds thinned out and not spending all that much time anywhere but home and the grocery store, I had a break from the pushiness, volume, and ubiquitous cigarette smoke.
But in the first few weeks once Israel decided to stomp out all of its lockdowns and protocols, I can’t help but notice that Israelis are being Israeli… only a bit more so than usual.
What does that mean? Israelis have always been loud. But it feels like they’ve made it a point to turn up the volume, even if just a bit. They’ve made it a point to shout to each other from greater distances or from their vehicles. And, of course, standing next to you while on their cell phones, no matter where they are and how odd it is in that location.
Israelis are a Little Smokier
Everywhere I go, I feel like I’m walking through clouds of cigarette smoke. It’s not that Israelis stopped smoking during Covid. Not a likely scenario. I think if the only cigarettes available in Israel cost $200 a carton and caused an immediate lip fungus, Israelis would still partake in their favorite pastime.
But perhaps things slowed down a little. But you’d never know now. Now it feels like the country is making up for lost time and is doubling down on its love of nicotine. Everywhere I walk I feel like I’m surrounded by smokers, and I’m coughing my way through a giant, nasty cloud of lung cancer.
And the irony of the situation is apparent to absolutely nobody!
How did we get here? We had the most successful vaccination rollout in the world, moving at warp speed, faster than any other country. And why did we do it? Because we’re so concerned with our health. We want to live!
That’s right, the Startup Nation has done it again. We’ve done everything in our power to protect ourselves from something that can cause us irreparable harm… so we can have the freedom to harm ourselves and those around us in a completely different manner. Kudos!
Which leads perfectly into the next point.
Israelis are a Little Bit Crashier
During the height of the lockdowns, it was suddenly a lot easier to drive in Israel. The roads were relatively empty, since there was basically nowhere to go. But people began driving like there was no one else on the road. I mean, Israelis have never been so great at keeping their roads safe. But when taken down a notch, things can get outright terrifying. Switching lanes without looking, speeding up before crosswalks, zipping around other cars without a care in the world.
Sadly, I don’t think people have woken up to the idea that the other cars are back now as well. And every habit they picked up when the roads were clearer has just stuck around and made driving in Israel a whole new level of terrifying.
And now I’m in a bind.
Back to This Again
I’ve been in Israel for over four years this time around, and the whole experience has been a struggle. I’ve spoken in the past about how there are two ways to love living in Israel: A religious pull to be here or, for lack of a better way of phrasing things, a Zionist pull to be here. Sadly, I don’t have either pull so much these days. And I’m constantly worried that situations will push me over the top and make me just run from the country screaming.
Yesterday was a perfect example. On my way to the gym I got into an argument with a woman smoking under a no-smoking sign. It feels like less than one percent of this country is a designated no-smoking area, yet she actually yelled at me for letting her know. Moments afterwards, I walked into a building where a person lit up his cigarette indoors because he couldn’t be bothered to wait the extra two minutes until he stepped outside.
On my way home from the gym, I was in a store literally fighting with customers who were trying to get served before me, despite my standing in front of them and waiting longer. And a piece of me just cracked.
The Reprieve Facade
Corona was (is) awful… but gave me the smallest reprieve from some of the difficulties of my everyday life.
I truly want a return to normality. I want to not worry about masks anymore. Or worry what the latest rules are. Or, of course, fear accidentally transmitting a deadly disease to loved ones.
But in the most twisted way, I kind of miss lockdowns in Jerusalem. It was quieter. It was a more relaxed version of the city. It didn’t necessarily bring out the best in the people living here. But it gave a facade that things were a little bit nicer.
And the facade threw me off.
And here we are.
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