I feel that I should apologize.
That last blog post was not my usual writing style, other than the fact that it was all over the place. But it was lacking in the sardonic sarcasm, and for that I’m sorry (actually sorry) (should that be a hashtag?) (eh, whatever).
But – how can you describe a fairly horrible situation to people who live too far away, and in something of a bubble? Is there any way to describe it in a way that they will understand, and relate to? Or, at the very least, somehow maybe perhaps comprehend?
You can’t. It’s just not possible.
But I was trying to write something anyway, because there was too much going on and I therefore needed to get some of the crazy off my chest. But it was all over the place, because the situation is really all over the place.
And then – my high school did the thing it always does when something is going down in Israel. I mean, other than the charity and the sharing and the liking and the support from TOO FUCKING FAR AWAY.
It asked alumni living in Israel to “tell us about it.”
Here, they said; put into words how you feel when you don’t know if the person sitting next to you on the bus is good or bad.
Tell us how it feels when you see an explosion of messages on your phone from your kid’s day care and have no idea if it’s about the crappy temp. assistant or because someone tried to break in.
Tell us how you feel when you hear about another attack in the neighborhood where you have relatives and you don’t immediately hear from them, and start thinking the worst.
Tell us that this ever-present SOMEONE is out there right now and is causing undue stress, anxiety, panic, and disorder.
Tell us – but only in 500 words, because we have limited bandwidth.
This is not the first time I wrote something for them. It is the first time I submitted what I wrote, though. Mostly because I didn’t think I adequately portrayed how I felt in previous attempts, but also because I didn’t think they would appreciate what I had to say.
See, my high school doesn’t really do the sardonic sarcasm thing. They like silver linings, and hope, and a firm grip on the religious values they instilled in us. They want to know how us alumni maintain those beliefs during hard times, and they want it short and concise and in monosyllabic words.
For a long time I’ve known that I had a unique writing style and voice – and occasionally it would get me into trouble. But at the same time I always felt compelled to write an alumni perspective about what’s going on, if only to have a different voice telling the same story. But I also had to understand that my target audience is full of people who kind of like the status quo.
So to do this, I had to dig deep down and find my old self, who wasn’t as sardonically sarcastic, and instead was only slightly smart-ass. I had to find my short, skinny, somewhat optimistic, semi-hopeful, pre-9/11 self. I had to channel my insulated, bubble-dwelling, former “me” and not lose my uniquely witty writing style.
I had to find my 17-year-old self and write in a way that would A) meet those requirements, and B) not get not-posted at all.
And what I ended up with was, well, that. The good news is they didn’t edit it in any way. The bad news is – I don’t think it was enough.
It’s really not easy, you know? How does anyone describe what they are going through to people who have never experienced it?
If I asked my friends in Elsewhere how they’re dealing with all the shit that’s happening right now, you know what they would say?
Because the crap that’s going down in ‘Murca (and everywhere) is just part of their lives. They don’t even realize it’s happening, and it doesn’t even register with them.
That’s exactly how it is over here. The sad truth of all the crazy going on in the world right now is that it doesn’t register with anybody. Either because there is no frame of reference and we therefore can’t relate to it, or because there is simply TOO MUCH going on in the world.
I can’t possibly put into words what I’m going through, because there are not enough words. Even if I could find the words, they have no frame of reference. Just like I don’t understand what it’s like when there’s another school shooting.
But….while I was searching for my former self, I remembered this one time….
About 17 years ago, in the summer of ’99, one of my classmates was shot in the leg by Benjamin Nathaniel Smith. I was away at summer camp, but naturally the news reached us fairly quickly (and in the days before technology too, no less). When the school year started a few months later, he came with a crutch, a noticeable limp, and a picture of him with Sammy Sosa.
Because that’s what happened back in the day of terror attacks – you got to meet your hero. Now you’re lucky if you don’t meet a therapist once a week for the rest of your life.
He also came back with a byline that, if anybody started saying it, the entire class would join in to complete it.
Because that’s how we dealt with the fact that he could have died.
I remember talking to him one day about it – about the actual event of the shooting. And of course, we all read the newspaper articles that interviewed him. He was our mini-celebrity.
Because back in the day, if you got shot in the leg by a white supremacist terrorist, you became a celebrity. You were special.
Now, not so much. Nobody is special, because everybody is terrified. And the entire world is going to hell in a handbasket.
The world is full of terror – good and bad. I did mean that bit, and in all sincerity too.
There’s good terror when you take your first step. Or learn to ride a bike without training wheels. Or know that you’re about to win your school-wide spelling bee.
There’s good terror when you lean in to kiss a boy you like. Or when you say “I love you” for the first time. There’s also terror when you wait for the reply. (not to mention anxiety, but one emotion at a time here…)
There’s good terror all the time; way more than the bad. But the bad terror gets noticed because it is so rare. Like, tornadoes and hurricanes get covered extensively, even if they don’t actually do any damage. But nice, sunny days? When’s the last time there was a Discovery Channel special on those?
So because we are inundated with all the crap that’s going on, no amount of effort or trying will amount to anything remotely worth writing about to my fellow alumni living NOT in Israel. Because they wouldn’t get it.
And yet, for some inexplicable reason – I try anyway. Because I have this feeling that if I didn’t end up here I wouldn’t understand. And I honestly just don’t know if I would want to understand.
I would be busy with my own life, over there in that alternate reality. I would be working, and hopefully I would be passionate about it. I would probably be married, with a kid (or several, because who knows).
But – I would still be living in that tiny bubble, with people I grew up with and knew for my entire life, only thinking about my friends in Israel during the difficult times, and wondering how they were dealing with what was going on.
I wonder if I would read the things they posted.