By Lainey Paul
I never know how to properly start a blog entry, and I’m getting tired of the classic, “Well, long time no talk!” but it just seems to be the best transition! I’ll work on something better for next time, I promise.
I want to clear the air a bit since from my last post I feel people might have gotten the wrong impression from what I was trying to convey. No, I’m not second guessing any of the decisions I’ve made, and am most certainly not getting ready to pack my bags and come on home.
What I was trying to express was the “imaginary wall” (I guess you could call it that) I had gotten to and started bumping my head on. I’m going on month TEN of my army service. While that might not sound like a whole lot of time, when put into the perspective of FOUR years, it’s the perfect amount of time where the newness and excitement about serving in the “holy army” starts wearing off and the incredible, intense and lengthy commitment I’ve gotten myself into, begins to fully sink in.
I still undeniably believe that this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but that doesn’t mean I can’t freak out a little when reality sets in and I realize I’m pretty much married to the IDF for four years. Good thing one year is almost over!!
I shouldn’t get too excited yet, because I have a feeling in these next couple of months, they’re really going to make us show that we truly deserve moving onto the second year…if you know what I mean. But I’ll keep you all posted on how it’s going, don’t you worry.
It’s crazy for me to think that the Chaggim are already over! One really awesome perk about my unit, though, is that I don’t have to close holidays (stay on base) since we don’t do guard duty and they don’t have anything else for us to do. So I got off for a long weekend for Rosh Hashanah and I went “home” to the kibbutz. It was super crazy since it was three days of chag (because of Shabbat) and two seudot (huge meals) were required each day. Seven seudot and probably seven pounds later, I returned to the army for a week in the shetach (away from base) so we could lose everything we gained over the new year.
That was not a good week for me. I fasted on Sunday for Tzom Gedaliah so I couldn’t participate in any activities Sunday. Monday I had to go to the emergency room since I started losing feeling in my right hand which was super fun. I mean hey, at least I got to watch movies in the waiting room! Everything is ok, though, I’ll hopefully finish the year in one piece. Because I was in the emergency room for most of the day Tuesday, I obviously couldn’t participate Tuesday either. And then Wednesday all activity got cancelled since we got in a lot of trouble for something that had happened on the base and we had to go back early. It was a very unsuccessful week unfortunately – not one of those weeks where you have that sense of accomplishment and that feel-good feeling in the pit of your stomach. Oh well! On to the next.
That Shabbat was Yom Kippur and I was supposed to go to Jerusalem to visit everyone on my old gap-year, Nativ, but I had to go back to the kibbutz and pack for my trip to America instead. Unfortunately I had a really difficult fast and ended up fainting in the middle of shul at the end on Nehilah. I probably had everyone on the woman’s side hovering over me, and even some male doctors as well. I did, however, wake up and open my eyes to the blowing of the shofar which was very powerful. I timed it perfectly I guess!
Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were very relaxed days before our ten days off for Sukkot. Sunday and Monday we basically sat in a room for the entire day talking about our feelings. The first day was more general problems the entire group had, while the second day was focused purely on personal problems. Each person was given 20 minutes, and in that time everyone else in the group spoke about them – what they like, dislike, strengths, weakness, areas for improvement, etc. It was very eye opening and moving to hear what everyone had to say. It was so amazing how open everyone was being and nothing (and I mean nothing) was held inside. I even asked special permission to speak in English for this seminar so I could better express myself, and to my surprise my wish was granted! Everyone was utterly in awe as I spoke and they kept saying, “Wow, you’re a real person!” It was incredible! I feel like my group certainly met the “real” Lainey.Up until this point, I have not been allowed to speak a word of English. My commanders were even in shock and made it a point to personally come up to me and say how amazing it was to hear me speak and they can’t wait to hear specifically what I have to say about them. I guess when you’re use to hearing someone speak like a five-year-old, it could be an incredible difference hearing them in their first language. It felt really good!
Tuesday we volunteered with kids to help build a garden and a sukkah which was great. I love that we’re able to have those days where we also give back, though I guess I’m giving back everyday!
By Tuesday night I was on a plane back to the USA! I flew straight to Los Angeles to spend Sukkot with my Grandma, Mom,siblings (and nephew) and cousins. It’s hard that not all my family lives in one place but I’m really happy I got to see everyone. I even got to help one of my close friends move into UCLA as a freshman,which was awesome. It just so happened to be perfectly timed for when I was in LA.
Saturday night I took the all nighter to Chicago where I was picked up by a friend on my garin (he was on his month vacation from the army). He took me on a nice little tour of Skokie where I got to meet his family. I then visited some family friends in their Sukkah and then we headed to my roommate’s brother’s engagement party. That was also perfect timing that I happened to be in Chicago when two of my garin friends were also home and that it just so happened to be her brother’s “L’chayim”! It was so nice being there with her and we all had an wonderful time. I then headed to a great Mexican dinner with my ex babysitter turned older sister who I haven’t seen forever, before she dropped me off at the Megabus where I overnighted it to the University of Cincinnati.
There Jake Picked my up at 4:45 am. What a nice brother! I spent the rest of the night with him in his apartment (I can’t believe my little brother has a college apartment!!!).
I had a fantastic visit and though it wasn’t super long, I’ll certainly take what I can get. I had great bonding time with my brother, celebrated my mom’s birthday with her, spent time with Max and Dad, and saw friends I hadn’t seen in months! I certainly would call that successful :)
Shana Tova! Until next time…