I’m finally sitting in my room at Smith, which I’ve so missed for the past three months. And, I’ll admit, it feels good. I love Northampton– the cafes, the theater (though, alas, we’ve lost our beloved video store), the summer lull with few students around.
But it’s a bit strange, too. In some ways, I feel as if I never left. Or as if the changes here, including the renovations on my beloved Gillett House, happened over the course of a day when I happened to be away. And yet, very often I find my mind wandering down familiar paths– of Jerusalem.
I find myself walking from my office on Paratroopers Lane (yes, technically that’s its name…) up Yaffo to Ben Yehuda. Or down the souk in the Old City from Jaffa Gate to Al-Attarin, then to the Via Dolorosa and St. Anne’s. It’s as if by, even imaginarily, going down these same streets– hot and unbearable as they seemed just last week, I won’t lose them. And I hope I won’t.
People keep asking me, “How was Jerusalem??” and it’s almost impossible to tell them. Much of the time it was really hard. Sometimes I didn’t want to be there at all. And yet it was also so rewarding. I got to know people and have experiences I otherwise would never have had. Which doesn’t sound like much, I know– but then again– the experience was, for me, somehow incommunicable.)
I didn’t go on the seminar to have a vacation, and it certainly didn’t turn out to be one. But, more importantly, it changed me. And in the end, contrary to what I found myself thinking after our seminar, I do actually want to go back.