I have great friends here. I say it all the time, but I’m in a constant state of shock because I used to think I had good friends in America, and in comparison I was so wrong. As it turns out, I didn’t really know what good friendship meant or felt like until I moved to Tel Aviv.
I can give you three different examples of the quality of friendships I have here that all occurred recently.
Example 1: I found out today that I have finally completed my thesis, having received a grade and all. My grade is a 95 and I will be graduating in March! I immediately texted all of my friends here to tell them the good news and within moments, I had not only congratulatory messages, but insistences that we celebrate tonight! Not soon, not this weekend, tonight. Comments ranged from “I’m so proud of you!” to “I always told you that you could do it,” or “I always knew you were smart!” These are the kind of praising statements I used to give out when someone did something great in my circle. Until moving here, I had never heard it used with regard to me. (Side note: I love the different ways Israelis spell “congratulations”…congradulations, congrads, congradulashuns, etc.)
Example 2: People here are really here for you when you get sick. Remember Ben when he thought I had appendicitis? I thought that was an isolated thing because Ben could be like superman…not at all. Yesterday, I came down with a bad flu. It started in the morning when I got up, but by mid afternoon at Yana and Oliver’s house I felt really bad. I came home, put myself to bed and woke up 3 hours later with bad body aches, a fever, sore throat, and feeling generally miserable. I never ask for help when I’m sick. it just seems silly to have someone take care of you, because historically I’ve been labeled as needy or annoying when I’ve asked that of my friends. This time, Red happened to call and hear it in my voice. Within 30 mins, he was at my apartment with a bag of groceries and he was chopping vegetables for me to put into my soup I was starting to make. He sat me down, made me tea and took over.
Today, I was supposed to have plans with Alec. I messaged him earlier saying that I had to cancel because I felt like death, and his response was “I’ll come to you and bring you soup.” Amazing.
The man I went on the date with on Friday is even offering to bring me things to feel better! I’ve found some good people in this country. Interestingly, you know who isn’t here or available? Kelly or Taryn, my American girl friends. Yeah, they’ve texted me asking how I feel, but no offers to help or to keep me company. Maybe it’s a cultural difference, but the Israeli way just seems so much more human…
Example 3: This is probably the silliest example. I recently learned (finally) how to roll a joint. Many people have tried teaching me, but for some reason, it didn’t sink in until a few days ago. I sent the message “I successfully rolled!” to both Yana and Alec (the two people I smoke with the most) and here are there heartwarming and perfect responses:
Yana: I always believed in you!!!
Alec: I am proud of you!
These responses came almost instantly. I know it’s silly but they both knew this was something I was trying to do and not able to do for a long time…the positive reinforcement I received on success just demonstrated to me how supportive they truly are.
So that’s all. When I say that my fiends here are like my family, I mean it. I could not have finished my thesis, learned how to roll a joint, or feel so taken care of when sick if it weren’t for the strong, unwavering support system I have here in my friends. They are amazing.