What a difference a day (without rockets or bombs) makes
What a difference a day makes.
I had started writing a blog post on Tuesday evening about what life was like in Tel Aviv when the rockets were falling and I had every intention of finishing it on Wednesday. But then at noon on Wednesday things changed. Things changed in a way that I just couldn't comprehend. Just when we thought the rockets had started to burst the bubble, the bus that exploded in central Tel Aviv finished the job. We were just like everyone else now. We were scared and vunerable.
As the roar of deafening thunder echos in my ear on this very rainy, autumn Friday morning I'm trying to make sense of how this past Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday all seemed like worlds apart from each other.
Even though rockets continued to hit numerous places in the South and even the center on Tuesday, here in Tel Aviv the sirens of the previous weekend seemed a distant memory. I knew that Operation Pillar of Defense was in full swing and over a million people were pretty much living in bomb shelters because I would come home every day and be glued to the news, but it seemed distant again. My thoughts were always with the people of the South. We had a very small taste of what it feels like to be under fire, but they were living through it on an hourly basis. Once our experience under fire seemed to be over, the walls of the bubble appeared to be rebuilding themselves. There was still an underlying fear that the sirens could go off at any time but it felt as though our participation in the very cruel running game was over for the time being.
Tuesday night was the only night that I had actually had a good night's sleep since the first rockets were fired at Tel Aviv on the previous Thursday. Walking into work that Wednesday there was a bit of a sense of normalcy that I hadn't felt for a while. But that all changed just after midday when reports of the bus bombing started flooding in. The urgent phone calls and texts to loved ones started. The panic. The not knowing. The being glued to the news to find out more details. The police and ambulance sirens in the background. This was all alien to me in my little Tel Aviv bubble. The bubble had well and truly burst.
Whenever I talk to people about Tel Aviv I'm always proud to say that I feel safer walking down the streets here then any other city in the world. This was not the case this week. I usually take my time to walk home and make sure to check out any new restaurants or bars that have opened. I try to soak up the energy of this internationally renowned urban space that I call home. This was not the case this week. Instead, I rushed home as quick as I could for fear that a rocket could be fired and I wouldn't have anywhere to run or bomb would go off at any time.
On my way home this Wednesday I spoke to a number of my close friends and we all decided that we were going to curl up in front of the TV that evening after a mentally draining day, and week. Watching the news and hearing of the cease-fire agreement that had been reached made me feel a little better. But this is Israel after all and even though an agreement had been reached, anything could happen. I went to bed that night in a slight state of shock. I thought about how the city I call home and the city I boast about being free and safe had become the focus of world news for all the wrong reasons. No longer was a there a sense of freedom in the air. Instead, fear took over.
Upon waking up the next day and hearing that no rockets had been fired overnight, a strange sense of calm prevailed. It was as if a huge weight had been lifted. Even though it was a very fragile agreement, it was as if we were living in a different reality. My walk to work was less stressful. It was as if nothing had ever happened. It was hard to get used to that typically Israeli mentality that "life goes on." But that's what I did. Just a day before, 28 people had been injured on a bus five minutes from my house that was blown up by terrorists. This was not normal to me. But unfortunately this is a reality here in Israel and in Tel Aviv. I quickly learned that there is no point in lingering on all the bad things that happen. It's important to look forward and appreciate what you do have.
Just when we thought things could get back to normal we have had nearly 24 hours of roaring thunder to contend with. This may sound trivial after the week that the country has been though, but this is not just any thunder storm. And this has not been just any other week. Even though each bout of thunder wakes me up and shakes the windows, I could not be more relieved that it is only thunder. I will take this almighty thunder storm over rockets or bombs any day.
What a difference a day makes.
Note: I decided not to publish the blog post I started about how it was to be in Tel Aviv during the rockets because it was already out of date. But I feel this video of me being interviewed on BBC World News sums it up pretty well.