Trying to "Find Myself" at Age 31 – Kveller
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Trying to “Find Myself” at Age 31

“You’re on the kibbutz a lot these days,” someone said to me during Shabbat dinner in the dining hall. “It’s nice.”

It is nice. And it’s true: I am here a lot these days, for two reasons:

1. I’m dating someone from the kibbutz. Yup. You read that right. Of all the single men (and women) in this whole freaking country, I happened to fall for someone from the very place I wanted to escape. (Think Shakespeare meets Woody Allen and get serious, people.)  And after a few weeks of creeping through the woods with a skicap on–in the middle of a very hot Israeli summer–I figured it was time to fess up and tell my ex. So now he knows. And now you know.


2. My mother-in-law went back to the States for a few months. This meant that on the days when I was with my kids, I was able to use her house as a home base. We’d watch movies and eat dinner. We’d play with the hose in her garden and catch rainbows in our hands. We’d snuggle in bed reading good books and I’d sing my favorites from Tori Amos and Nirvana before they’d drift off to sleep. And that was the best part: For the first time in several months, I was sleeping with my kids again. Almost like old times.

At first, I was afraid that it would confuse them. (“Why is Mama here on Tuesday nights, but not on Wednesday nights?”) But they were fine. There was a rhythm to their week, and with the help of their Aba and the incredible Kibbutz preschool staff, they transitioned easily. The kids are alright.

And, just like that, it’s almost autumn–and it’s been almost nine months since my ex and I split up. And in that time, I’ve learned many things, including that I like it here. My kids are happy and that makes me happy. And somehow, when I wasn’t expecting it, I have managed to cobble together a community of sorts here on the kibbutz.

But the thing is, my mother-in-law and her other two sons are coming back to Israel next month. So, I need to find another place to stay.

And. I am also changing jobs. Which is three parts exhilarating, and one part… terrifying.

So. My perfect (shit) storm. Let me show it to you:

While I try to settle in at my new job, while I try to find a place to live six nights a month on the kibbutz with my kids, while I try to get out of my lease on an apartment 45 minutes away from my kids, where I wake up in the morning to find the corpses of cockroaches littering the floor, while I try to negotiate some kind of balance between being many things to many people, all of this raises a bigger issue for me: I am waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too old for this shit.

I am closer to turning 40 than I am to turning 20.
I use wrinkle cream.
Gravity is not my friend.
When I look down, I see my mom’s hands.

I got started very early on a life that I no longer live: I got married and pregnant at 26. The world became a very scary place for me, and I lost my edge and sense of possibility. While all my friends were “finding themselves” in new jobs and new relationships, I was playing grownup.

And yet, now, at the age of 31, I’m slipping backwards–sliding into my mid 20s, into a mental space of trying to “find myself,” while all my friends–meanwhile–are signing marriage licences or mortgages, and ditching the birth control with the best of possible intentions.

There’s a time for everything. And I’m doing it my way–which is fine. Really. But, I wonder how long it will be before everything stops feeling so temporary. How long will it be until I can create a stable home for my children on the nights I’m with them. A place where one day, I might have more children. Someday. Not now.

But I like my life. Even if it feels a bit temporary. Hell, everything is temporary. Even if you are surrounded by the trappings of a future you think you want. Anything can happen. And I’ve lived enough to know by now that there is no right choice–for me, or for anyone. Because all roads lead to different places, and sometimes they lead back again to the place you never wanted to be.

And until I find that home–no, scratch that–until I build that home, I will breathe through each moment until I arrive at the next.

For more tales from the kibbutz, read Sarah’s journey from LA to Israel, being a stranger on a kibbutz, and splitting from her husband.

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