Raanan Shaked
Reclining chair
After returning from New York I was pleased by the fact that I am speaking with people in Hebrew, I understand them and am understood by them
Sometimes – approximately twice a day – I ask myself what came over me when I decided to return to Israel from New York. I was in New York for three years, I already trained the natives to communicate with me, I already learned their strange language, I already lived a sentimental life in English, I already felt that I had almost reached the nirvana of complete absorption – almost at the moment when I was capable of drinking that filtered coffee of theirs without blurting out an undesired "what the f***?!"


And then I returned to Israel. I knew that I would regret it about twice a day, but I also understood that my life was meant to be led in the comforts of Hebrew, and that I need to start getting to know my wife, who lives, as the reality confirmed shortly afterwards, in central Tel-Aviv. And, that I am dying for a reasonable cup of coffee.


I landed in Israel with nothing. My packed and tax free luggage was being shipped. I entered my Tel Aviv apartment, which I rented ahead of time and which was so empty that I could hear the echoing sounds between the walls, like a screeching condor over the Grand Canyon.


I entered this apartment with a few items of clothing, a mattress and a reclining foldable chair that I dragged all the way from New York, with some understanding that a person returning to Israel from three years in America needs to sit a little.


I entered by empty apartment, opened the reclining chair in the middle of my empty living room, sat on it, took a deep breath, for the first time in my life, happy to be an Israeli; an Israeli that feels at home. An Israeli who knows he is in the right place.


The immense sound of packing an entire life, leaving it, flying it and especially the struggle between leaving or not cast like tremendous metal beams – everything was brought to a halt at once, and utter silence prevailed. The deed was done, the decision made. I am here.


Easier being an Israeli in Israel 

When I seek to examine myself, I don't have any cheap patriotic token customarily used when paying in such situations; no, I really didn't miss it. I was not hit with the realization that Israel is my true homeland. I didn't come to the conclusion that I can't live without my friends from reserves, from which I was released with a certain effort at the age of 25. And even so, I returned.


And in that first month, when I would come home in the evening, sit on my reclining chair in the center of an empty apartment, literally lacking everything, aside from one book, in English, at the foot of the chair – in those days I experienced my most Israeli moment; the moment I was happy by the mere fact that I am here, back at home. Back to my natural, flowing life, the life in which I speak to people in Hebrew, get to know them easily, understand them and am understood by them, immediately.


That was a relief. I wandered the streets, reigniting my inner Israeli, and almost everywhere I understood that Israel is not that depressing place I remembered – actually, I honestly suspect that it is easier and more satisfying to be an Israeli in Israel than an American in America. I started really liking the place.


It took me almost a year to become irritated again and to ask myself again what came over me when I decided to return.


But then I recall that empty apartment, the time when my life concentrated into a rare moment of clarity in which I realized that my reclining chair is here after all, in Israel. And home is where the reclining chair is.


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