Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Loneliness of Being an Immigrant


When I left Romania, almost 13 years ago, leaving behind family, friends and a career , following the call of my heart, I hoped for something better for myself. I was weary from raising a child on my own, I wanted a real family and if it waited for me on the other side of the world, so be it (or that's what I thought back then, deluded as I was and blinded by love).
Little did I knew that I would find myself caught between two worlds, uanble to fit in, unable to find my place...I think it is the sort of fate any immigrant would have, especially the ones opting for countries where the culture and religion are different from the ones they were born into.
I wanted very much to blend into the melting pot of israeliness. I learned the language, studied for a new career, the whole lot. I even wrote a book about the country before coming here. I knew more about its history than the locals, for crying out loud!. But nobody cared. They gave me annual tourist visas and then temporary resident status, even though I was married to an Israeli and already working here . The bank wouldn't issue cheques for me because I didn't have an Israeli ID. The Interior Ministry clerks would interogate me separately from my husband and ask me to bring photos to prove we were living together...I am surprised they didn't ask to see the bed sheets or...I don't know...I just swallowed my pride and moved on.
Of course, even the marriage wasn't what I expected to be...don't get me wrong, my husband is a honest, hard working man...but that summarises it for him...No fireworks, just you know, a river flowing towards the sea.
And that is fine with me, as well...
I have now citizenship and health insurance and a gorgeous daughter and food on the table and a nice apartment...and you know what...it is not enough...it will never be.
Because I know now I don't belong here. I am grateful, I get by...but that is it. When I touch a tree, it is but a tree for me...no special connection, no thrill. The desert is only sand and rocks and the sea is nice and wavy...but that is all...
I feel at home only at night, when I open my notebook and write about things long gone and forgotten, and I try to give a name and shape to my longing. And at least for a couple of hours I am somewhere else, somewhere magical...I am home...
Maybe I will never be able to publish whatever I am working at, and it is OK with me for as long as I have the illusion to keep me going, for the sake of my family and my children...
Why are you still here, you could ask...
Well, first of all because I owe it to my family. My son is trying to built a future for himself here (I brought him with me when he was 13, and shelfish as I was, I didn't think about his future when I chose for him), my husband has a career and a good job and I cannot ask them to leave everything just because I wasn't mature enough when I altered their lives with my decision to get married and come to live here. For once, it is not only about myself...
The things that hurt me most ar the fact that my family and my friends are (most of them) in Romania. Well, my sister is, and it is so difficult and frustrating to see her only a couple of days each year...I don't have many close friends, most of my friends are the internet type ones, I don't even know them personally.
I know there are many good things in my life and I am fortunate and blessed, but this is not the time to count my blessings...you know, there are times when you simply have to embrace the naked truth and to face the pain nested inside in order to understand and come to terms with the destiny.
And so I try to take every day as it comes, and even if I bleed inside I close my heart and keep my mouth shut and tell myself that everything happens for a reason and that this is my karma and I truly wish that when I'll die they'll burry me in the cemetery in Baia Mare, and then the circle will be closed and I'll finally have some peace.

I am linking this to Shel's

5 comments:

Annie @ astonesthrowfrominsanity said...

Oh my girl! I am aching for you as I read this. It is so hard to be away from family and home. I get that. I also understand why you stay. You seem so very brave.
Stopping by from PYHO...

Shell said...

I relate. Even though my move wasn't as extreme- I still feel you.

Anastasia said...

I can't imagine. The culture shock must be extreme. I hope you find something to make yourself feel better.

Tana Saler said...

Hi Ramona,

I haven't heard from you in a long time, and never knew you still haven't made peace with your life in Israel.

I can relate to it from here, in Canada, where, like you, I don't feel quite at home, away from my close friends and family in Israel.

It's not easy, and you mention karma. Did you slap your forehead like I have for thousands of times, asking yourself: "What the hell was I thinking?" We are the misfits, the wanderers, somewhere between the chairs - because I promise you, if you were to return to Romania, you'd miss many things about Israel (I remember hearing you say that you laugh more often). In Romania you'd be Israeli, and in Israel, you are Romanian.

In the same time, the longing is wired within our souls, Ramona, urging us to grow. How much have you grown in the past 13 years? Exposure to a new culture and language, new habits, new views on life. Would you trade all that for having stayed at home?

Alone in Holy Land said...

Thank you very much for your kind words...
Tana, your comment went directly to my heart...you are right, but sometimes it is so hard to see sense when you ache inside...