Let’s see… how do I say this without sounding like a total ass? Ok. Fine: I don’t hate the kibbutz.
In fact, I kind of like it.
Ever since I left late last year, I’ve come to realize that this place really isn’t so awful. And the people here are like people all over–good and bad and mostly just in between and trying to get by. Like me.
If I’m going to get all introspective and whatnot, I think the problem wasn’t the place–it was my place. See, I looked to this small community to fill the cracks in my life, and like any relationship that’s based on a dysfunctional need, I was disappointed. And because things at home were so tenuous–the kids were sick all the freaking time, and the surly silence between our walls would shatter in the clatter of yet another misinterpretation–I expected this kibbutz to fill my need for companionship and friendship and belonging.
So not possible.
And so not fair to the kibbutz.
It’s sad, really. This place could have been paradise for me–and people so often say that a kibbutz is gan eden (Garden of Eden) for children, old people.. and dogs. And while this bitch felt stagnant and lonely while living here, now that I’ve left, on the days when I am on the kibbutz with my kids who live here, I like it:
I work in the cafe, listening to the Israeli rock and reggae mix the baristas play.
We go to the convenience store, and share Bamba (Israeli snack food) with the other kids.
We eat in the pub, and my babies sit on bar stools and eat schnitzel and chips, while Mama of the Year over here has a glass of vino.
On Friday nights, we light candles and walk to the Kibbutz dining hall where we eat salmon and stuffed chicken with other families, and afterwards, my kids play outside in the gathering dusk while I drink coffee with a few friends.
My kids know the names of every tree we pass on the way to and from gan (kindergarten).
My kids know all the Imas and Abas and Sabas and Savtas, and where everyone lives, and how to get from the North end to the South without getting lost.
And in the year and a half they’ve lived on the kibbutz, they’ve developed a sense of strength and self that they would never get in LA–a respect for the earth and for people that is just a given when you grow up here.
(I know, right? I can’t believe I’m writing this either. But it’s true.)