Tassels and Sunsets - Travel Diary: Israel




Monday/Tuesday - Ethiopia - After Midnight: I mean, technically, I'm in the airport, but I'm still in Ethiopia. I'm sitting next to my mother and across from strangers that I'll probably never see again. The cold has refused to leave since we boarded the first plane here from Abuja, Nigeria sometime in the afternoon. I don't know if we're ahead or behind timewise, but I do know I can hear all the planes and people around me. We're going to be here waiting for five hours in transit. I've grown to hate that word - waiting - it's become overused in the past year of my life. Hopefully after I get my diploma I won't have to keep on waiting for much longer.

If I'm being 100% honest with you, I look like a perfect cliche of a "bad kid" from the 90's - faded blue jeans, plaid shirt, shaggy hair and oversized headphones with a lot of rock music leaking through. The only thing breaking this illusion is that I'm writing this on a smartphone and I keep looking up at everyone.

It's strange to see people this way all at once, with their eyes bulging and anxious movements. I think airports are the great equalizers of humanity. People are weird looking and beautiful, especially this early in the morning when their faces are smudged, their shirts are wrinkled and their lips are swollen. It seems like everyone here has had a one night stand with time itself.


Tuesday - Israel - 8am: As I wake up in all my travel clothes to the smell of breakfast, the last thing I remember saying to everyone in the living room was, "I don't get jet-lag!" Everyone has been awake for at least 2 or 3 hours because my aunt's newborn twins woke up around that time. I don't yet have the maternal instinct that wakes me when I hear a baby crying (or any noises). In fact, I've slept through thunderstorms peacefully. I start breakfast and post that I'm drinking coffee in Hadera, a city in the north of Israel. I then make plans with old friends but I'm unsure if I will follow through - I've always been "that friend" that ducks out early or doesn't attend at all. We cut it so close that I have to squeeze in between everyone else's dinners and parties. My graduation is tomorrow night and as I spend the day holding babies and texting all my Nigerian friends, I try to breathe through it. 

Wednesday - Israel - 5pm: After a second shower, a face mask and a music medley, I think I'm ready to go. I'm nervous.

When I get to the campus, the crowd of students looks exactly the same as a year ago. I'm wearing makeup and some form of heels, which I didn't start doing until I moved back to Nigeria. I feel both grown up and still very young all at once. Everyone is so loud and I spy a bottle of tequila making its way around the aisles.

A lot of important people are speaking, but it's all in Hebrew so I drift off. It's kind of a metaphor for my three years in Israel. I'm a part of it all, but not fully. They finally release balloons and we move on to a smaller venue to hear the valedictorian speak.

Here I am in a beautiful country with all these people, but all I can think about is how there's nothing here for me and how I want to go home. The last thing I hear is "Good luck!" shouted to all the students. Diplomas are given, photos are taken. Its over.

My friends and I gather and drive to a restaurant in the city. Hugs are exchanged along with bad jokes, tales of life after college and a comfort we've built. Everyone is somewhere else now - or thinking about moving somewhere else. We talk like adults, then like kids, and then we leave each other.

Wednesday - Israel - 11:20pm - There is a party where we're meant to be, but instead we are all on my friend's couch filling in the time we spent apart by talking about little things we have missed. The sleep comes for one of us, then two, and after all the goodnights have been said, I curl up on the couch in my dress and dream of nothing.

Thursday - Israel - 14:25 - It's all over. It's fleeting, both beautiful and sloppy. I feel like a Lana Del Rey song.

I usually hate buses, but I'm talking to an Israeli girl who is disenchanted with her surroundings. We're talking about the language barrier and how far we're going away from the city. The bus, carrying only five other passengers, sends smiling mazal tov's my way when I tell them that I graduated last night.

I get off the bus and stop to get orange juice from the gas station. It's the afternoon and I realize that I've seen every single sunset since I have arrived. The end of a day, a chapter. A new span of life is unfolding now.

I thought coming back would show me something. I've left so many parts of myself on that campus, in restaurants, malls, and parks. I thought I would go off and find them again, but I think my plans falling apart made me realize some things are better left as they are.

Here is where I thought I had found real love more than once, where I found platonic love in so many people, where I sat across from a therapist after a nervous breakdown and where I started to build up all the self love I now have in abundance.

It's so beautiful here, but all I can think of is what's waiting for me, both in Nigeria and anywhere else I may end up.

Thursday - The Sky - 1:18 am - On the flight back to Ethiopia. The plane, is only half full. My throat and my ears are all in some sort of pain. I'm sleepy but unfortunately not in a way that will make me fall asleep. I keep thinking and writing. 


Friday - Nigeria - 2:03 pm - I actually got home a while ago, but just started to settle down. Unpacking is the most wonderful kind of torture.

I find places in my life for the new things I've acquired and lay down on my bed, thinking about what the future will bring me.   







TEXT AND ILLUSTRATIONS & PHOTOGRAPHY BY  ZARA MEDUGU 

EDITED BY TESSA MACK

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