I rather like escaping from reality. It's probably the reason that I love books and stories so much; they allow me to forget my world and its problems for a while, and simply live. For the past five weeks, I have been blessed to escape from my reality, as I knew it, into a world where (for the most part) I could be completely and utterly myself, and simply experience the adventure that God had set apart for me.
I have been back home for about a day and a half now, and already that adventure is slipping away from my waking mind into the endless card catalog that is my subconscious memory.
Don't get me wrong, I love being back home. The moment that the lights of the Twin Cities began to glitter in the blackness beneath my plane window, I began to cry. There are some things about Israel that I do not miss: the extreme humidity, the constant blazing sunshine, waking up at 4 am, eating kosher all the time, being covered in mud for half of the day, hearing the IDF artillery in the distance...but what is getting to me, I think, is that I have experienced this great and glorious thing for five wonderful weeks, and when I come home, no one seems to care. Well, that's not exactly the right sentiment, but you know what I mean.
When people say that they want to hear about my trip, I don't know what to tell them, partly because there is too much to say that I can't put it into words yet. They might ask me a question or two, but then talk will turn to something else. Either that, or people will go into the "Condescending Wonka Meme" mode. You see, when people say that they want to hear about something (not necessarily a trip, but experiences like this in general), they usually mean that they want to hear the 2 minute version of the trip, a sort of "what did you learn?" answer. And for me, the truth is...I don't know yet. I will one day, but right now, I don't.
This kind of feeling isn't new; I've experienced it for the past few summers in the form of post-camp depression. I have so much of this adventure going on inside me, and yet life goes on. I come back and I still have to deal with finance problems, college, health issues, ect. It's almost as if Real Life is jealous of my Adventures, and is determined to make my return trip as abrupt and painful as possible. As Sebastian said in The Little Mermaid, "Somebody's got to nail that girl's fins to the floor."
This return to reality is a common theme in many novels...Wendy comes back from Neverland, the Pevensies come back from Narnia, Frodo goes back to the Shire after destroying the Ring...and no one gets it.
"How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when, in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend, some hurts that go too deep that have taken hold."
- Frodo Baggins, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
It is, has been, and always will be hard to communicate experiences like this. How can I fully explain how it feels to be hit with a basalt boulder? Or the joy of laundry/Popsicle day? Or a favorite memory of someone on the dig? The fact of the matter is, I can't. I can try to communicate the more tangible things, like the logistics of the dig, what I ate for meals, what sites I saw around Galilee, but the intangible things, the things that changed inside, can never be explained, even by the most eloquent of writers.
Mary must have had this same feeling after the whole giving-birth-and-raising-the-Son-of-God deal. The disciples, too, after travelling with Jesus for three years. We know their spoken words, we know their actions, but their thoughts? Not on this side of heaven. Perhaps the only solution is to do as Mary did: "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19, NIV).
So for now, I think that I will try to go along with life as normally as I can, and whenever I see something that reminds me of something that reminds me of Israel, I will smile to myself and eat a piece of bread with hummus and pickles on it. And take out a rock in the backyard. And go eat schwarma with Jackie and Laura. And maybe start a fight with Geoff.