HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON
Tel Aviv and Seattle. A woman who does the unthinkable. Two best friends living far apart, and how that separation shapes their lives. Is the grass really greener on the other side of the fence? Which comes first, family or country? And how far should we go to secure our happiness? In “Hope to See You Soon,” Author Revital Horowitz challenges her readers to confront these questions, and to grapple with the meaning of friendship, family, and country- the meaning of life itself.
The novel, which will resonate with all its readers but particularly with anyone who has ever lived abroad, is full of moral challenges and cross-examinations. The past mingles with the present as the friends exchange letters over the years. The characters are compelling and sympathetic. You won’t want to put this book down until you’ve reached the end.
Whenever I took my children to the Jewish Community Center, I made a point of driving up a steep road that reminded me, albeit fleetingly, of “Derech HaYam,” the main thoroughfare leading up to Haifa’s Mount Carmel. Like Derech HaYam, this road was lined with pine trees, and the houses that peeked out from behind a bend in the road looked just like the ones we passed on the way to Mount Carmel. Every time we took that road, I would- for a few seconds- feel completely at home, and, at the same time, heartbroken. My Yonatan was born in Haifa, and we used to drive up the Sea Road every week, on our way home from visiting our parents. Sometimes we’d stop to say hello to my cousins, who lived nearby. My instinct to look for “the house” wherever I went had been passed down to my children. Sometimes I would hear them talking in the back seat. “Wow, this really reminds me of Grandma’s street….” When we lived in Israel, I never searched for other countries. Israel is my heart, it is my soul, despite all the complicated feelings it elicits. It seems to me now that back then, I was consumed with longing for the land that I loved; now I am consumed with longing for my children.
Time has become meaningless. Every day is like all the others, and there is no distinction between weekdays and Shabbat and holidays. Having a routine comforts me, and anyway, what is there for me to look forward to? Routine preserves what little sanity I still have. It helps me cope with my endless longing for my children; it distracts me from my life, and from where my life is going: the sun rises and sets the voices from outside my apartment change as the hours pass. But it is my routine, and it protects me. It’s been a few days since I’ve seen Roni. Maybe he’s been called up for reserve duty? Iris, I’ve noticed, has been coming home at her usual time, so I know everything is OK and I can go to sleep. When I lie down in bed, I look at the pictures of my children, and in my mind, I can feel their warm, soft necks. Their absence is excruciating, and sometimes I ask myself what I was thinking when I left everything and came here. I forgive them for all the hardships they heaped upon me, but I cannot forgive their father for his lies.
When my children got older and no longer needed me the way they used to, I had a hard time. It wasn’t simply that they didn’t need me- they tried to pretend I didn’t even exist. Maybe they saw me as used and tattered, something they could crumple up whenever they wanted to, something they were free to trample on.
When Yonatan started first grade, he was diagnosed with a learning disability. I sat with him for hours, helping him with his homework. Yonatan struggled, and it pained me to watch him suffer. Throughout all his school years, I helped him with everything, until he decided that my English wasn’t good enough, and that my knowledge of science was, in his words, “ridiculously limited.” He didn’t want my help anymore. That’s when we started drifting apart. The solution to his problems, he decided, was Dan, and he never turned to me again. Gradually, he stopped sharing other aspects of his life with me, too, and I felt like I had become a burden. I took comfort in the knowledge that Abigail still needed me, but of course her time came, too, and at an even younger age than her brother. Perhaps she was trying to follow in his footsteps. Little by little, I felt like I had lost my place in my own family.