Somehow or another I’ve found myself in a war zone. Ok, war zone is a bit of an over statement. Technically, yes, Jerusalem is a war zone,(Sorry Mom.) And yes, on some days there are rockets that have been intercepted on route to the city that I’m staying in. But those rockets have been intercepted, are of low power, and infrequent. This in no way compares to the terror that is occurring on the Gaza Strip. Over 80 people have been killed, and several more injured. Three injuries have been reported in Israel. To make any assumption that both sides are having a similar experience of the conflict is tremendously unfair. Sure, I knew there was a greater chance of violence in Jerusalem, rather than the crazy metropolis of Fruita, CO. But didn’t think anything would actually happen. Events of the last couple weeks have dramatically shifted the nature of my summer “vacation.”
This upheaval of reality has brought out a vast amount of emotional and cerebral experiences. The most basic being my definition of safety. Earlier this week I received an email from a dear friend asking me if I “felt safe.” That simple question brought me into a tail spin. I couldn’t give a direct answer. For the first time I realized that safety isn’t black and white, it lies on a spectrum. With recent events, decisions in the house have been made based on our location on the safety spectrum.
Two nights ago I had my first rocket siren experience. This wasn’t some fire drill so frequently practiced in school, this was the real thing. My host parents and I scrambled to scoop the kiddos out of their beds and haul them into our safety room (the bathroom.) Its an odd experience waiting for something to happen, while hoping that it never comes. We were quiet in a dark bathroom, all nine of us just sitting there. I managed to grab a beer en route to the bathroom and chugged it quickly after confirming the safety of all small humans. The adults put on a facade of cool, collected, and rational, while I was internally flipping my shit. Once we got the ok clear and put the kids to bed, my host parents and I discussed exactly what was happening.
Here’s the deal: After talking logistics, we came to the conclusion that a direct hit on the house is extremely low. However, having rocket fire become a reality has caused some serious cracks in my foundations. Honestly I’m not 100%, there’s no way that a sane person would be. But I’m learning how to rationalize the situation, in order to have a reasonable emotional reaction.
As I’m currently dealing with a safety spectrum rather than an absolute, I’m working on finding a balance between sanity and perceived safety. For the first 24 hours after the siren I left the house only to take the kids to the playground and go to the corner market. There was a brief period that I just wanted to crawl into bed and cry. Then I realized how much I was over reacting. Once I regained my confidence and made it outside, I found that life in Jerusalem was continuing almost as usual. An uninformed observer wouldn’t be able to tell a difference in the downtown shopping area. In fact there was a smaller military presence, and less tension than last week’s clashes. Conflicts such as the one occurring now are a reality of life here, and while its important to make smart choices, life still goes on. The threat isn’t enough to hole ourselves up at home, waiting for something that may never occur. I’m picking my activities and destinations with caution, and keeping my guard up at all times. I’m not taking the situation lightly, but I’m not allowing myself to become paralyzed by fear. The situation hasn’t gotten to that point yet. And if it does, I’m lucky enough to be able to go to a truly safe home, unlike many people here.