During the spring semester of my junior year we wrote to each other weekly (egad! this was before email, though not by much). His letters were short, full of misspellings in English, and nearly illegible, but how I loved getting them! All else would fade away while I spent hours reading and rereading them, looking for nuances in feeling even among the same old lines: I love you, please come back. I miss you. I'm going crazy.
Before long we decided I'd return that coming summer and live with him and his family. I didn't come from a well-to-do family or have savings of my own, so this required that I drop everything but my studies (and even those a bit), and start working long hours at a local café so I could afford the plane ticket to Tel Aviv. I didn't see friends anymore—no time. Though he was half the world away, Avi had become my only friend. And for better or worse, getting back to him became an obsession.
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Within days (hours?) of my last exam, I was in the air heading east. Even amidst the armed soldiers and a level of security I would never get used to, when I saw Avi waiting for me at the airport, I felt like I was home. He was allowed time off, and we traveled around the country together before he had to go back to the daily grind. What I didn’t fully grasp was that the daily grind for him would be a week-long grind—indeed, he wouldn’t be at home but for weekends. Further, his job was somehow top-secret, and while most people in the army could tell you their schedule—when they would be home, when they had to be back on base—Avi couldn't say when he was coming or going. Maybe he didn't know exactly when he would be released, or maybe he went on missions of an unpredictable nature? Perhaps everyone else knew when to expect him, but I couldn't know because I was a foreigner? It wasn't clear. Further, he had a sibling in an even more secret situation—I was given the impression I couldn't know more in that case because it was a question of national security. It all made me wonder, what was I doing there? This marks me learning the lesson that love does not necessarily conquer all.