When Mom says they might move without me, well, not really without me but while I’m gone, it triggers something. I can’t stop remembering the other moves, like clear slides in the midst of a mostly blurry film.
I remember Sissika, my long-lost imaginary friend: half sister, half Yiska. She got lost on the way to Dallas.
I remember that when we moved to Boston, I felt so different.
“That’s wicked,” one of the kids said, when she heard I’d just moved. “I’ve never even been on a plane.”
“I can’t believe you moved so many times already. Totally wicked!” another remarked.
I quickly discovered that most of these kids had never moved, and many had never even been on a plane. What took me longer was to figure out was why everyone was calling me and my life “wicked.”
“I’m not evil,” I remember thinking. By the day’s end, I learned that wicked meant awesome, at least in Boston. And although we lived there for longer than anywhere else — nearly seven years — I never did integrate that word into my vocabulary. Ever.
The memories flow. My brain’s skipping along to the end of those almost-seven years, when I’m a tender thirteen-and-a-half years old. Mom’s oh-so tired, and she’s not packing us up. Not this time. At least that’s what I hear her telling my father. He reassures her. The company will pay for the move and the packing.
One day, a massive moving van shows up. It says Carmel on the side, and I keep thinking it’s a misspelling for Caramel, the flavor. But when the movers get out, wearing purple T-shirts with yellow lettering on them, I hear them speaking Hebrew, and I realize they’re Israeli. And Carmel is Carmel, like Mt. Carmel. No caramel here.
Somehow, it’s deeply reassuring that the people packing us up are Our People. I stand in my room and watch as they deftly transfer every single one of my belongings into boxes. I try desperately to understand the words of their Hebrew conversation, but I’m lost. I keep waiting for them to identify themselves as Jews to us, their fellow Jews, but they do not. I find it shocking. But I guess they’re lost, too. Their truck should say, “galus.”
After they finish packing my room — they did it so fast! — I wander around our massive yard, saying goodbye. I meander through the woods we used to play in, taking a last look at the massive boulder that played so many roles (Plymouth Rock, a mountain, a lookout point, a desert island). I take in the wild blueberry bushes and wonder if anyone will harvest the berries this year (that was my job). I head to the place where those beautiful wildflowers, showy lady’s slippers, bloom. I run up to my parents’ closet and open the trapdoor laundry chute for old time’s sake, regretting that I never did have the guts to jump down it. I look at the super-steep, carpeted stairs to the finished basement and remember all the rug burns we kids got as we rode down them on a mattress. “Goodbye! Goodbye!” I call. My heart expands and breaks, expands and breaks. “Goodbye!”
All our stuff is in the Carmel van now. We watch it pull out. Soon we’ll be pulling out, too. Goodbye!
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 780)
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