Tomorrow is the Jerusalem Marathon. The city has been getting ready all week and there is a feeling of excitement in the air that has made this such a fun week. The Full Marathon is going to be running right by our apartment so our street is filled with blue barriers for the crowds to stand behind and there are signs along the street directing the runners. The Jerusalem Marathon is listed as one of the top 10 marathons in the world. I’ve never run a marathon but when I do (it’s definitely on my life to-do list), this seems like a pretty cool one to run. Runners literally run through thousands of years of history, including the Old City of Jerusalem. The views are breathtaking. Watching the preparations for the marathon makes me feel really lucky to be living here in Jerusalem. It’s not New York, but I would absolutely say that it is one of the most cultured and happening cities I’ve visited in the world. Whenever my travel bug starts itching, I try to remind myself that where I live is pretty awesome too. So awesome that thousands (millions?) come here to visit every year. In honor of the marathon, all of the main streets in Jerusalem are closed and Eden’s daycare is cancelled. We have no plans to get into our car tomorrow and are looking forward to heading out to the streets to cheer on the runners. I find them so inspiring. They have determination and endurance written all over their faces. Plus we have a few friends running. With the whole city basically shut down in honor of the marathon, it feels almost like a holiday. Excited for a fun family Friday!
Today was too beautiful a day to stay indoors. It was so sunny that I almost felt like taking my shoes off and walking barefoot so the heat from the cement could seep into my feet. The cherry blossoms are in full bloom and it was just one of those perfect days to be walking outside. Mamila is one of my favorite places in Jerusalem. It is one of those places that seems to have captured the character of Jerusalem, where the modern and the ancient sit side by side. Jerusalem stone surrounding hip and modern stores. And languages, so many languages. Hebrew, English, French, German, and great music too. And there is always beautiful artwork on display. Bumping into one of my cousins who I haven’t seen in a while made the whole morning feel just right.
Over the years, I have lived in several neighborhoods in Jerusalem. I love the thrill of getting to know the nooks and crannies of the areas around the place we have made our home. Binny and I have recently started talking about where we are going next. We have always thought about leaving Jerusalem one day and with my last semester of school starting in a few weeks, it felt like the right time to think about our next move. (Any ideas or suggestions for locations are very welcome.) As I walked with Eden to daycare this morning, I took the time to notice some of my favorite things about the corner of the world that we have called home for the past almost 5 years.
- Knowing which side of the stairs is easier to bump a stroller up (wisdom shared by a sweet old grandmother).
- The people who I regularly see everyday. I don’t know their names and in many cases, we have never exchanged even a single word. But we smile and nod at each other every day. There is one elderly woman who calls me “Eden’s mom.” She loves telling me about her grandchildren and always has a special smile for Eden.
- Being able to recognize new faces working at one of the local markets. And knowing where to get the freshest bread and the most beautiful flowers on Fridays.
- Forgetting my wallet at home, but still being allowed to take what I need from the grocery because they know I will come back to pay later.
- Learning the quickest routes to get to where I need to go if I am in a rush, as well as how to make the walk long and leisurely on gloriously sunny days. And knowing on which paths I need to keep an extra eye out for dog poop.
- Knowing which side of the street to walk on to get the best shade in the summer and the most sun in the winter.
- Knowing where the cats’ favorite hangouts are- Eden gets a kick out of seeing them jump into and out of garbage cans.
These days, I love how Eden takes note of all the things we pass on our daily walks. She points out to me where construction workers are building a new house, where there are big puddles from last night’s rain, where the pizza store is, where there are trees with pine cones, and she also knows to tell me when we are “almost there.” It doesn’t get much better than watching Eden learn our neighborhood and getting to experience my own surroundings through the eyes of a two-year-old (still cannot believe that my girl is 2).
Snow days in Jerusalem are a huge deal. They don’t happen very often, and when they do, everyone goes outside to celebrate the snow. Eden was a bit scared of the snow at first, but after no time at all she was throwing snowballs along with the rest of us. And then I wasn’t sure who was enjoying the snow more, the adults or Eden! (although the ‘adults’ in this house still kind of think they’re little kids.)
In Israel, Sundays are workdays and Fridays take the place of Sundays. In my 10 years of living here, I think this is the one big thing that I have still not adjusted to. I really miss Sundays and Fridays just don’t seem to do the trick.
But this Friday was especially glorious and sunny. Which means that Israelis do laundry and hang out their undies, in all their glory, for the whole world to see. Because sunny winter days are not something to be taken for granted. Most Israelis don’t own dryers since it is sunny and hot for the majority of the year, so it’s pretty common to see laundry hanging on every porch and roof. But these beauties had me laughing. I love that this is considered such a normal sight in Jerusalem.
Friday is the only day that Binny and I get to pick up Eden together from daycare. We took advantage of the sun and walked there, skipping like little kids. Eden was pretty excited to see us and we had a fun time walking home together as a family.
We have lots of friends coming over this weekend. One couple is leaving to San Diego for 5 years for the husband to do a post-doc, so seeing them will be bittersweet. Laughing with friends is our favorite way to unwind after a long week. It’s been tough coming back to real life after 3 weeks of vacation, so this weekend is exactly what we need.