Last updated July 20th 2014
As some of you I am sure have noticed, the subtitle to my blog is “From Elvis to the Middle East”. I would like to spend this post describing my journey to you and explain how a girl from the quiet, slow Deep South came to live half a world away in the chaos that is the Middle East.
My journey to Israel actually began several years before my moving to the country. It all began on a hot summer’s day in Austin, Texas approximately 11 years ago. I was in Austin with my family for orientation at the University of Texas at Austin. I was to spend two days on campus while my parents and my brother took a side trip to San Antonio. The two days were very overwhelming despite that fact that I had a very nice roommate during my stay there. The truth of the matter is that although I was eighteen-years-old, I had never really been away from my family before for a considerable amount of time and the prospect of living in a completely different state, which was a 10 hour drive from Memphis really frightened me. I held myself together for the two days, but upon seeing my family at the end of the orientation, I immediately burst into tears.
Upon seeing my distress my mom immediately hugged me, and said, “Rach, what happened?” “I can’t go to school here,” I said, “I can’t be this far away from my family. Send me to Rhodes [in Memphis]“. I watched as my Dad literally fell to the ground and sat with his hands on his head, as he had just finished paying the first installment of my tuition. Momma wisely lead me away from my Dad and my brother Aaron to a spot right in front of the huge Gregory Gym on campus.
“Rachie, It will be OK,” Momma said, “We are here for you. You are going to be just fine.” “No Momma, I can’t do it.” “Of course you can,” Momma reassured me. “No, send me to Rhodes.” Then Momma said something that has stayed with me to this day, “Rach, if you don’t leave Memphis now, you may never leave. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life in Memphis?” “No,” I emphatically blubbered through tears.
For me that is when my real journey to Israel truly began because I realized that I didn’t have to live in the same city, state or later country to still be close with my family. And ironically the fact that I am so close with my family gives me the strength to be away from them and live out my dream. Four years later when I graduated UT Austin and was faced with the decision to either potentially work for Israel in the US or to study in Israel, I wasn’t the scared freshman anymore. I knew that I had lived 4 years in a different city and state and had been extraordinarily happy.
I think sometimes in life we underestimate our abilities. We underestimate what can be possible either because we are afraid or we have doubts. My journey from being a young student at UT Austin to a working woman in Israel would not have been possible if I didn’t grow as a person along with the help of my family and close friends.
Through their love and support, I have come far not only in distance from Elvis Country to Israel, but I have come so far emotionally as well, knowing that I don’t have to see my family every day or even every month to be very close with them.
My message to you in this post is don’t limit yourself in life. Surround yourself with good friends and loving members of your family and know that you can go so far in life. That is how a young Southerner like I came to live in the land of my ancestors and fulfill one of my biggest dreams.