Have you ever looked back at significant crossroads in your life and considered what would have happened if you could change them? Like that Ashton Kutcher film but without the horrible consequences at every turn. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see your life in these alternate timelines?
Like what would have happened if I did my year abroad in Illinois as planned – or if I did my degree at Leeds instead of Birmingham like I was supposed to? Would things be so different? Would I be different?
That’s probably enough rhetorical questions for a lifetime but please do indulge me, I’ll arrive at the point of this post very soon. On sleepless nights I love to contemplate how much effect these events actually have on our lives. For one, I don’t think my life in Leeds would have been that different, and besides a tonne of AEPi parties and Fighting Illini games – I don’t think the year abroad would have had such an impact on who I am.
Over the years, there has been one recurring theme to this little ‘What If?’ game. On August 26th, 2004, an unfortunately-not-that-much shorter, skinny and beardless version of the man I am today was sat on a one-way flight from Tel Aviv to London. Heartbroken and full of anger at being taken away from all he knows.
What if we stayed? We could just rewind the tape on it all, the whole twelve years – back through the month we slept on air-mattresses because the shipping crate was late. Right past my little brother spilling a drink on himself on the flight and going through the UK border for the first time wearing nothing but y-fronts and dad’s t-shirt. Past the long goodbyes at the airport with friends who are no longer such. Through that evening, eating Burgeranch ( – Israeli fast-food place, if you know you know) on the lounge floor after the whole house had been packed. Past that night my older sister let it slip in anger that we’re moving before Mum and Dad had even given us the heads-up. What if we had just stayed?
I would have stayed that geeky little kid with the velcro sandals and the rattail ( – I rocked it a whole decade before Shia LaBeouf made it cool, I’m a pretty big deal). I would have grown up in that tiny town where nothing interesting happens and I wouldn’t even know what I’m missing ( – I mean six years ago it was newsworthy that a shopping mall opened up – seriously, I can’t stress how much of a small-town Reut is).
I would have gone through high school in Israel and hopefully not become an ars (the Israeli equivalent of a chav, basically the same just with a Middle Eastern complexion and more body hair). I would have been sent off to university to study some sort of Engineering degree before signing myself over to the IDF like everybody else. Chances are, if you’re reading this right now, we probably would have never met.
Despite what this blog series might lead you to believe, the truth is that London has been pretty good to me. When I’m not voiding the dark depths of my mind to you, I’m actually a pretty happy person. If I could go back to that day, the only thing I would do differently is make sure to bring extra batteries for my Gameboy Colour ( – Pokémon Gold wasn’t going to complete itself).
It’s funny how twelve years later, I’m sitting here with my calendar marked December 28th, worrying about the very same things ten-year-old me was so scared of when we moved to London. What if I don’t like it? Won’t it be hard to keep in touch with everyone? What if the new Spider-Man film comes out and I can’t see it there?
For months I’ve told everyone who made the mistake of asking all about my plans to move back and join the army – how very macho of me. It all got very real once the date was set. The move to London has changed my life in thousands of ways, but many things have stayed just the way they were. I don’t think we ever really get over the fear of the unknown, we just get better at looking at the good that comes from change.
I’m coming home.
“If I stayed here, something inside me would be lost forever—something I couldn’t afford to lose. It was like a vague dream, a burning, unfulfilled desire. The kind of dream people have only when they’re seventeen.”
― Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun