…is something I wish I had these days.

One month until the wedding, and two weeks until Sergey and I hop on a plane to the U.S. of A.  Honestly, I’m not nervous about getting hitched.  Wedding planning is a bit stressful, but I know everything will come together.  It’s the physical trip home that concerns me most right now.  I think my cortisol levels will drop off as soon as I step into the Madison airport with Sergey.

I can’t help noticing that the country where I’m living seems to be at war.  Now, I’ve been a little paranoid about living in Israel since I arrived.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget my friend Seyy’s farewell to me in the common room of MacGregor res hall at Mount Holyoke: “I’m so scared for you.”  After coming, like many new arrivals, I was initially freaked out by the multiple explosions I heard at sunset, which turned out to be fireworks.  On our “Haifa Walk” during orientation, the guide made a point of showing us the pockmarks in a building damaged by shrapnel from the attacks in 2006.   Since then, I’ve been on the alert for sirens, my anxiety not helped by the fact that synagogues use ceremonial sirens to commemorate various events.  Or that the sounds of my downstairs neighbor vacuuming remind me of the blare of tornado sirens back home.  One Saturday morning I was so alarmed by this “air raid siren” that I bolted out of bed into the safe space of the hallway and called Sergey, who inquired what threat vacuum cleaning posed to national security.

Well, my over-consciousness of Israel’s tense position in the Middle East seems to be reaching fruition.  This morning at 3:30 A.M. I heard the real siren for the first time, and, following my vacuum cleaner emergency training, bolted out of bed suddenly wide awake, adrenaline coursing through my veins.  The siren’s mournful wail didn’t last long, and by the time it ended I still hadn’t made up my mind about where exactly to hide.  Fortunately, I’ll probably get more practice with this in the next few weeks.

This all makes me appreciative of the peaceful life I lived back in the States.  Back there, war was always fought across oceans and seas.  The closest I got to experiencing war was through historical novels.  It’s not that life in the U.S. is perfectly safe.  In fact, I bet statistics would show that I am in greater danger of getting shot by a homegrown terrorist from the suburbs with a legally-purchased submachine gun there than I am of getting hit by a Hamas or Hezbollah launched missile here.  And I should note that life in Haifa is actually still quite tranquil.  Long-time residents are, I’m sure, used to situations like this, and people just go on with their lives with a few demonstrations here and there.

Anyway, I’ve asked President Netanyahu and Hamas to hold off on getting too intense until we’re out of here…

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