December 26, 2009 - 11:00 PM
I would say that hands down, the second main thing that I got out of my trip to Israel was friendship. I must admit that I was one hundred percent skeptical going into this trip that I wouldn't leave with any really meaningful relationships. I was sure that I was going to meet a great group of people and have some quick surface bonds, but nothing that would really stand out. I mean, how close can you really get to someone in ten days, right?
Well, this trip completely proved me wrong. It is amazing how on a bus of forty people, you can still find those couple people get you. I realized as well that once I found these people, it was easy to become close fast because we were spending every waking and sleeping hour together, most of the time in the close quarters of the bus.
I ended up forming an amazing friendship with Nora and Lauren, from Kentucky and Georgia respectively. We talked about music, about Israel, about everything. I could tell halfway into the trip that these girls were not just people I would meet and then maybe keep in touch with via Facebook from time to time, but instead incredibly beautiful souls who would become lifelong friends. I don't think that I have ever laughed so much in my life as I did with these two girls. Every day on the bus we would share our inside jokes with each other and be completely roaring in laughter. Our tour guide asked us on multiple occasions what was so funny, but I don't think that even if we had a good answer we could've gotten it out through all of the giggles.
One of my favorite moments with these girls was when we went to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. We went to the Western Wall twice in one day. First, our group went in the morning to tour the area and put our prayers into the wall's crevices. Then we all went back again in the evening. It was Shabbat as well as the eighth night of Chanukah, so it was a very special time to be at such a holy place. The three of us walked into the section of the wall that was dedicated to women and found a place to sit. The area was packed with women and children all praying to the wall. Some were touching it and weeping. Nora, Lauren, and I sat there and just observed, silently, for about thirty minutes. Each of us was in our own world, dancing with our own thoughts. It was such a peaceful time. The sounds of Jewish songs murmured in the air in a meditative trance. Finally, we broke the silence and decided that a good way to sum up the power of that moment we had just experienced would be to say one word that we wanted to create within our lives in the next year. We each thought about it for a bit and then spoke. It was so touching to have each of us just say a single word and then know that it was time to leave. "Hope, Beauty, Respect." We backed away from the wall as even closer friends.
Maybe my Israel trip was not quite the beautiful solo journey that I am used to when I travel, but it's ok because I left my trip having gotten the privilege of meeting two of my greatest friends.