So, I was told by friends and Aliyah professionals that I would certainly have good days and challenging days....that, though living in Israel was indeed was going to be one of the few things in life that don't fail to live up to expectations, there would also be, as an immigrant living in a new country and not speaking the language, frustrations and annoyances, some minor, some not so minor. And, today was one of those days, fortunately of the more minor variety. (Though, Theodore Herzl in his books, Der Judenstat and Altneuland, was strangely silent on the possibility of such annoying everyday minutia in the new Jewish state. Imagine the nerve of the guy!)
It really shouldn't have been too hard to locate the offices of Association of American and Canadians in Israel (AACI) on Pinsker St., except that, well, Balfour St. is the road leading directly to Pinsker and, perhaps because the Prime Minister's official residence is at the corner of Balfour and Smolenskin streets, and security monitoring the area were kind of intimidating, and there were streets I was unsure if I was allowed to walk down or not, and I wanted to make it to the doctor's office before they closed, so, as it wasn't a necessity to visit the offices of AACI today, I, when my attempts to try alternative routes were stymied, actually turned back around, and TRIED to make it to my next destination.
I had seen this doctor's office listed as a provider covered under my (Maccabi) Israeli health plan and saw that it was a relatively short walk from my apartment, so thought I'd just walk there and see if I could make an appointment because, earlier in the day, the customer service department at Maccabi Health (after finally finding someone who spoke passible English) couldn't locate me anywhere in their records. But, well, I learned later that I had copied the wrong address and there certainly wasn't an office named Central Jerusalem Family Doctor at 7 Strauss St. And, believe me, I walked along the perimeter of the building looking for that one entrance that would not only be in English rather than Hebrew but would enthusiastically announce: "Adam, YES, the office is here!" Instead, I returned home to find out that the mystery office was actually at 24 Strauss St!
Anyone who knows me wouldn't be surprised by my "senior" moments today, but you just need to add an additional factor of not being familiar with the lingua franca here to understand how amazing it is that I haven't gotten truly lost....the kind where I'm never found again, or somehow wind up in a really peculiar place without realizing it...I don't know, like in Damascus, Cairo, or Gaza City. I do tend to walk everywhere - being and avid walker all my life and kind of adverse to public transportation - and don't take the bus, which is probably good because the possible errors when getting on a Jerusalem bus are funny to imagine.
The third and final mishap really wasn't my fault. I had visited a wine and liquor store on Emek Refaim St., in the German Colony, where I had gone to get a slice of Pizza from the best Pizza place in the city my many people's standards, at a place called Sababa, and had purchased a bottle of Irish Whiskey at a Wine and Liquor store nearby. Anyway, the Hebrew Book Fair going on at Liberty Bell Park on the way back to my apartment so I decided to check it, out and walked to the security check at the entrance - which all such events, stores, and public buildings in the city generally have - placing my bags on the table for inspection. Well, I'm not sure if I didn't place the bag with the glass bottle of Bush Mills Irish Whiskey securely on the table or if the security guy mishandled it but the next thing I know the bag w/ bottle fell to the ground, smashing the bottle in pieces...the intense smell of whiskey reminding us all what had happened if it wasn't in any way clear. For some reason, perhaps to add insult to injury or perhaps to contribute to a more poetic and cathartic ending to my ordeal, the security guy then handed me back the bag (broken whiskey bottle inside) which I then carried to the trash. The security seemed more amused than sorry about the whole thing and didn't seem to understand, or perhaps just wasn't that moved by, my anguished complaint about wasting 160 shekels ($40 U.S.).
I guess I'm fortunate that I generally see problems like these in the context of Jewish history - a history full of genuine tragedies and suffering, as opposed to the faux dramas that many of us in the West process as real problems - and can't help but remind myself that these snafus are really quite humorous in the scheme of things. Not that I wasn't annoyed but, look, I'm back in my apartment drinking a beer, safe and sound, typing away on my laptop as a new citizen of the first sovereign Jewish state in 2000 years - and a free, democratic, and prosperous one to boot. Yeah, my life is SO hard!