With just a couple weeks left in Jerusalem, it is time for our ritual “taking stock.” We have the opportunity in this life we have chosen to see and experience some amazing things. But amazing can be good or bad – and some places we have liked more than others. Jerusalem we have loved. So without further ado, some of things that have made this place so special to us:
1. Snow – building snowmen outside the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City and watching kids throw snowballs, rather than stones, at each other for a change.
2. Daybreak – watching the sunrise out our bedroom window every.single.day over the Old City and Dormition Abbey, where the Last Supper is thought to have taken place.
3. Food – Fresh and wonderful mediterranean food in the form of olives, citrus, hummus, goat cheese, and so much more.
4. Legs – Walking anywhere and everywhere, often leaving our car sitting for weeks at a time (or in Jenny’s case – a whole tour).
5. My office – a 100 year old mansion with Tuscan-like views out two walls of windows. Long hours are totally ok when this is the setting.
6. Dads – the boys very first friends, from their time at the YMCA, all turned out to have work-at-home/stay-at-home dads that have remained Tony’s close friends, still meeting twice a week over the two years since the gang went their own directions.
7. Neighbors – the kind you borrow flour from, spend holidays with, and yell for from the balcony after a bad day. The kind that watch your kids in a pinch and whose apartment seems like the other half of your own.
8. The Bible – seeing the amazement on the boys faces when they realize a particular story being told at church is about a place they know.
9. Rooftops – Jerusalem isn’t call the City of Gold for nothing and nowhere is it more clear why than from the Old City ramparts. Or restaurant roofs. Or the Austrian Hospice.
10. Beaches – I would consider us mountain people, yet being less than an hour from the water has been wonderful and watching the boys learn to master it has been wonderful.
11. Weather – As I write this, it is almost May in the Middle East and not even 60 degrees. That is weird. What isn’t is the need for a light sweater during July evenings – or February mornings.
12. Friends – Some of the best friends of our Foreign Service years were found at this post. We have been beyond lucky to share these years with amazing people.
13. Colleagues – More of the same as above. Jerusalem consistently attracts some of the best in the business. It has been a genuine joy coming to work with some amazing colleagues.
14. The International Community – We’ve been nowhere else that there has been such a shared sense of purpose among the various diplomatic organizations and NGOs. One of the highlights of each week was dinner at Augusta Victoria on the Mount of Olives with the German and broader international community.
15. The Green Line – Jerusalem is truly a tale of two cities. We love leaving our almost European corner of the city and driving across an invisible line on a busy street that brings us to the heart of the Middle East. Even better would be a true melding of the two, but that is now in the hands of others…