It's been six months since I left home…
I went to Kissufim for Tu B'shvat to plant some trees. It had been five months since I'd traveled the roads I knew so well, the roads I loved so much. Five months since I'd seen the familiar, beautiful view.
I sat by the window and gulped down every bit of the picture, every bit of the view I know and love. The closer I got to Kissufim my heart beat faster and the thoughts went rushing through my head: if only I could go a few more meters, over there, across the fence, it would all be so different.
To stand at Kissufim is to stand just one step away from the life I loved so much, that I miss so much, from the life I dream about every night and think about every day. The yearnings are fierce.
Six months have passed and for the media, the words "Gush Katif" are but a memory. But remember, there are people for whom the past six months have been the hardest they've ever had.
I lost everything. I had to rebuild everything from scratch. It doesn't matter if you were for or against the pullout. At the end of the day, it is hard and it hurts, and people are suffering. At least have the decency not to mock their feelings.
The day I watched them destroy my house, destroy my town and essentially destroy my life, I understood that it had all come to an end. Even if we return, nothing will be the same, and now we must pick up the pieces and start building new lives.
That day my life changed. I moved to the guest house at Kibbutz Hafetz Chaim. Kibbutz members were terrific to us, but the pain of eviction and destruction is still strong. I am no longer the same Renana I was, constantly smiling. My joie de vivre is there, in the rubble of my house and my town. It's there, in the sands of Gush Katif.
I cried all the time, at least once a day. Even the smallest actions were different than what I was used to. To move, all of a sudden from the guest house to a 2 X 2 meter (6.5 X 6.5 ft) room with two other girls, with no privacy – it was very hard.
Red eyes, all the time
And just then I began my national service in Tel Aviv, where no one remembers what happened last summer. All of a sudden, I had to go about life with people who had no idea what I was going through, why I was sad all the time, why my eyes were always red…
I always had the most trouble with routine, because in Gush Katif no two days were the same. Every day was special; every day, something new would happen. And all of a sudden, here everything was normal and sad… my apartment became my only home, and every Thursday was the same old movie: the other girls would go home for Shabbat and Renana would go back to the guest house.
The other girls would bring food from home after Shabbat, and Renana would go shopping. Because Renana has no home.
You don't know what it feels like, not to have anywhere to go back to. It’s a feeling of complete detachment, of constantly feeling dependent on someone or something.
Wounds heal, scars remain
They always told me that time heels all wounds. It has, but a huge scar remains, and every time anyone looks at it, it burns and hurts. I think this scar that used to be my home that used to be the best life imaginable, in the best place you could ever ask for. And now it's all gone, destroyed.
Some months later we moved to a tiny mobile home at Yad Binyamin – just enough room for a few pieces of furniture, but at least I finally had a home.
But it was different. It was so unpleasant to come back to a place you had no connection with, a place you've got no memories of. A place where you wake up in the morning and can't hear the birds chirping or the crash of the waves down by the beach.
I think about everything, and pain in my heart spreads to the rest of my body. Then come the tears and the pain that cannot be stopped, the pain I cannot escape.
The tears gush forth, and the pictures in my head start to fade. I close my eyes and I can see myself walking into my house. I can even smell the smells of my house. But then I try to touch the walls – maybe it's all real this time – and it all disappears.
Something deep down won't let me forget it. This is what I've got to deal with, every single day. And it's not just me.
On the other hand…
There are two sides to every coin. Several good things have happened as a result of the expulsion. I know what I want to become a writer, for example. Several other things have happened that have allowed me to plan my future…
The fact that it's been six months doesn't make it easier, or that I've got to forget. It's as hard as that first day, perhaps even harder. The state doesn't help us too much, and we are left to deal with all the emotional difficulties.
Someone asked my on the bus one day: Why are you so sad?
It's simple, I wanted to say. I haven't been home for six months, and I miss it…
18-year-old Renana Marmelstein is a former resident of Ganei Tal, in the Gaza Strip