By Naomi Young, Saugus Community Contributor
New York, Washington D.C, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas. These are major cities in the U.S that I had only heard of before. Now they’re going to become a reality as I’m sitting at the travel agency’s office booking my flight. Wait, there’s more: New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia all for $350 and my student’s ticket has an open return date within a year.
I have no idea how big these cities are compared to Israel and I’m not scared to travel all by myself. When I was sixteen I flew for the first time in my life to visit my sister Etti in London. She purchased my ticket. I sat near Ralph, a nice young man from Los Angeles. We corresponded for two months after that because I enjoyed using my English.
Seven years had passed since that flight. I feel very proud to buy my own ticket from the tip money I earned working as a waitress. My plan is to tour the US and of course return to my country, my family, to my boss and my art classes right away.
In the restaurant I meet a lot of tourists who often tell me to come to the US because it’s so beautiful and because someone is sure to snatch up a nice girl like me in no time. I laugh and thank them politely. There’s just no way I’m going to leave my family, leaving the city I love more than anything in the whole wide world, my Jerusalem. “My roots are here, I’ll never leave this place!” I tell them adamantly.
What really gets me excited is going to Los Angeles because there’s a singer who lives there and comes to perform in Israel. I think I might have a little crush on him. Am I really chasing a star?
Well, my bags are packed and I’m ready to go. I don’t know what’s in store for me. I’m too excited to cry as I say goodbye to my family, after all I’ll be back in a few short weeks.
New York was all dressed in white welcoming me in December. I have never seen such freezing cold, such skyscrapers before! My first purchases were an eight millimeter silent movie camera and a projector to document my trip and share it with my family back home.
Before I arrive to my Los Angeles stop I phone Ralph, yes that Ralph. It’s a shot in the dark as he might even be married by now, but he remembers me and he’s more than happy to help me and pick me up from the airport. He finds me a place to stay near Farmer’s Market for $25 for a whole week!
The next day as I walk around Farmers Market I enter a clothing shop to get away from the rain. After small talk the storeowner says to me:” Have I got a boy for you!” I refuse to give him my phone number or call this guy he wants me to meet. But he doesn’t give up and I agree.
Well, here we are. My stomach is in a knot from excitement. Today is the day that we’re going to tie the knot if I’m to stay legally in America. Six weeks ago I met on a blind date the love of my life. Dennis and I are going to get married! Nobody in the whole wide world knows about it but us. It’s our own “little” secret. My parents are still awaiting my return home, “just a short delay” I tell them.
I take a photo of Dennis, in his starring role in my life and then he takes my picture wearing denim jeans and my nicest white blouse with a white flower that he picked from the garden outside and placed it gently in my hair. In that photo you can’t see the butterflies in my belly only my certain smile, a seductive smile that’s hiding a secret only the two of us shared. We were young and so sure we knew what we were doing. No matter what everybody else was thinking, we were going to show “them” how right we are. What did they know about our love anyway?
In November that year I flew with Dennis and many of his relatives to Israel for our big fat Jewish wedding. Yes, with that same open ticket. I smile when I think about the excitement and the impulsivity of that day. After six weeks!
A bigger smile spreads across my face almost forty years and four sons later. What if it didn’t rain that day…? What if I didn’t agree to meet him…?
We were fools in love but wise enough to know a good thing when we saw it.