Friday, July 14, 2006

Israel and Lebanon

The link in this post is about teens in my area--who are from Israel. They came here about a week before the bombings. I read the article, and then I thought to myself, how awful it must be...and then I remembered that I've been in that place before.

Displaced, away from home, and seeing the homeland in turmoil. I know it's cliched at this point, but I was in Germany during September 11, and I think at that moment, there was that sense of unreality. I know the moment's been about 5 years ago, but parts of it stick to my mind so clearly.

First, the email from my friend...Oh my god, a plane just hit the World Trade Center

I tried to access, but to no avail. I thought to myself: A Cessna? I couldn't imagine anything larger than a small plane hitting the WTC. I gave up on my emails, but was puzzled about some of the emails that came through. I went to downtown Regensburg to go shopping before meeting my class for a movie, and as I was wandering the cobblestone streets, I saw a flash of red. Jim in his red windbreaker. Next to him is my other classmate, sobbing. "A plane just hit the World Trade Center," said Jim. "And the Pentagon."

That is when I realized that it was a big thing, not just a little Cessna. Jim asked me to stay with Meesun, who was falling apart at the seams. I squeezed into the Telekom booth with her, and watched her make phone call after phone call, asking about friends in New York. Trying to get ahold of anyone at all. Tears, busy signals--and finally, a voice on the other end of the phone. "Thank God!" Meesun sobbed into the handset. Her friends were okay. Frightened and shell-shocked, but okay.

The following weeks were sort of a surreal haze; the teachers cancelled the trip to Vienna to make sure everyone was safe. I never felt more patriotic before in my life. Before, I was always conflicted.

There's a literary journal I have upstairs, Displacement, Placement, Travel, Exile (I think that's the title). And I've always felt that way in this country. That though I've been born and raised here, there's been a sort of odd feeling of never quite belonging. It took going to another country to make me realize what home was, even though I had not felt homesick until that point in time.

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