What We Leave Behind

It’s been a long time since I have given this blog a real update, mostly because I’ve been firing on all cylinders over the last 5 months or so, first with a trip to the England and Ireland in April with my mother and sister and then with the acceptance of my company, InFront Compliance, into the Barclays Accelerator Powered by Techstars in Tel Aviv lasting a little over three months. That necessitated preparing for and moving to Israel over the span of a few weeks.

After 104 days in Israel, I’m back in the States. The past three months, and particularly the past couple of weeks, have been a complex jumble of emotions. I haven’t fully processed them yet, so a lot of them I’m not really ready to unpack for public consumption. I do plan to write about my experience with the Barclays Accelerator and Techstars and some of my more nuanced feelings regarding the State of Israel, feelings that have only grown more tangled for having lived there. I’m also not ready to discuss how I was treated by airport security at Ben Gurion either time I left Israel, as I think that deserves some proper time and attention to what was despicable treatment.

While I can’t truly understand or feel what it means to be black in America, I can certainly empathize a lot more than I could before being treated like an Arab in Israel by airport security. There is no feeling worse than having your humanity questioned over and over again in the span of a few hours by strangers based on some profiling algorithm. I honestly don’t know how African Americans have the strength to put up with it on an ongoing basis. I never questioned that it hurt or that it was systemically wrong and broken, but I sincerely hope this country moves forward in a way that rights this wrong one experience at a time until the feelings of degradation are REALLY a distant memory and not just something white people try to say is a distant memory. You can’t live their experience. You can’t know how it feels until it happens to you, and my minor experience with emotional abuse at Ben Gurion can’t compare to a lifetime of marginalization and profiling. Anyway, that’s all I can say about that for now without launching into a much larger rant on race relations in America and Israel.

Among my other complex emotions are the hurts we inflict when we leave. I’m struggling with that both in the leaving and in the returning. The leaving always seems harder, but really, it’s what happens after you leave that’s the toughest. Leaving Israel (as much as I was glad to be gone) means leaving someone I love. Maybe that will work out, but I worry it won’t. Anger and abandonment fester when someone goes. How do you maintain a deep connection with someone when you can’t reinforce it with touch? I want so much to protect this fledgling love, but I can’t. We’re in the period of testing it, and that came much quicker than I’d like. I’d like the foundation to be rock solid first.

It really hit home for me yesterday when I got to my mom’s house. My dogs have been staying with my aunt for the past 110 days or so since I’ve been in Israel. Before that, they were with my brother and sister-in-law for a couple of weeks while I was in Ireland. So, they’ve been apart a lot from me this year. When I got to the house, they both seemed excited, jumping up and down. Cookie, in particular, was jumping all over me. Within a minute or two, it was clear that Ein was not happy. She wouldn’t come to me when I called, and she would sit under my mom’s legs and look away from me. When my mom threw the toy and tried to get her to bring it to me, she refused. She would just take it back to my mom. You can say,… well, she super bonded with your mom while you were away, but that wasn’t it. She’d only been with my mom a few days, and Mom was shocked, as Ein mostly ignores her and hangs out with my stepdad (who was traveling and thus not a source for Ein to hide behind). So, here was Ein intentionally trying to let me know how angry she was with me for leaving her. She punished me emotionally, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t work 100%. I’ve never had my feelings hurt by my own dog before, but I did yesterday. It took her a good while to warm back up to me, but eventually she decide she could cuddle me again. I’m dreading tomorrow morning when I leave for NY for a couple of days. She’s going to be so mad at me all over again.

What does this have to do with leaving a person in Israel? Well, Ein and I had a rock solid foundation of 10 years of unconditional love between a dog and her person. And she was still angry enough to try to hurt me when I came home. I know it’s hard. I couldn’t communicate with her the idea that I was leaving for 100 days but then would be back. It’s not the same thing as someone you can talk to and reason with. But, it’s still painful. Emotions aren’t built on reason. And so I worry. And I miss. And I hope.

And maybe, in a few days, when I get back from NY, Ein won’t be mad at me this time, and I won’t be sitting here examining my entire emotional landscape regarding leaving dogs and people behind.

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