Even though we are not yet official עולים חדשים (new immigrants), we have been spending the past few weeks doing the kinds of things olim do - visiting prospective schools, networking for a job, researching health care options... and buying appliances.
Relying heavily on the advice of friends who preceded us as עולים חדשים by a few years, we bought a washer, a dryer and a refrigerator last Thursday. On Sunday, the washer and dryer were delivered by a team of two. Luckily, my Hebrew-speaking husband and daughter were home, so this delivery was a piece of cake.
Yesterday, my husband (did I mention that his Hebrew skills far outstrip mine?) had a networking appointment in Jerusalem and was out of the house most of the day. My assignment was to wait at home for the refrigerator delivery. While waiting, I spent time sorting out our Israeli utility and Visa bills, trying to figure out what things really cost here.
While I was home waiting for the מקרר to cool down, three young Ethiopian boys came to the door collecting tzedaka (though don't ask me for what cause). I gave them 10 shekels, they gave me a piece of paper and blessed me with the words Tizku l'mitzvot — may you be worthy to perform additional positive commandments. Another successful Hebrew interaction! Perhaps they didn't even suspect how anxious I feel when conducting the simplest interaction in Hebrew.
Later, I phoned the customer service department of our cell phone carrier to discuss some billing issues. Seven times, I asked the representative who answered my call, "Do you speak English?" and seven times, I was told, רק רגע, which literally means "just a moment", but, in this context means, "No, but hold on and I'll get you someone who does." Six representatives guessed the English fluency of their colleagues wrong, but finally, one got it right and I was able to take care of my business.
Still later, when my husband returned from Jerusalem, exhausted and in need of a nap, I took the car and drove to a neighbor about 2 kilometers away (Ha! Don't I sound so Israeli already?!). I've driven twice before in Israel, but this was the first time ever, ever, that I drove completely by myself and I was, upon my safe arrival, inordinately pleased with myself.
Here's a secret I learned on this trip. Being an immigrant is infantalizing. Everything is completely new and you need help with every simple task. I'm a grown woman, but I feel like an adolescent, figuring life out for the first time.
Here's the positive spin. Accomplishing the simplest things by myself is such a pleasure. As I write this, my newly installed washer is washing her maiden load. In about 4 minutes, I'll know if I pressed all the right buttons. It's a steep learning curve. But even if I got it all wrong, the machines look great.
And לאט לאט (slowly, slowly), we are settling in.