I first noticed her when I was 24 and had just packed up my life and moved to Israel. I was young, unattached, idealistic, and sure that this adventure was just what I needed to infuse my life with meaning and purpose. But after a very short time in my new country, I started to see her everywhere. She would greet me when I woke up in the morning, sulk in the corner of my Hebrew classroom, stare me down on the bus with her sad, watery eyes, drape a heavy arm over my shoulder as I walked down the street … I couldn’t shake the chic. My gloomy, creepy stalker. Her name, I would soon learn, was Homesickness. I would try to reason with her – I would explain kindly and patiently that I had been dying to make this move for years, that Jerusalem was actually the right place for me, that I was going to find fulfillment and inspiration here. But Homesickness wouldn’t budge.
And thus, with Homesickness always by my side, I became The Girl Who Split in Half. Half of me would be sipping creamy café afuch in a German Colony coffee shop, or dancing the night away at the underground Boogie in Jerusalem, while the other half would be in Chicago, feeling the papery texture of my grandfather’s hand, napping in my high school bedroom with the wood paneled walls, pulling a wool scarf over my mouth for an icy walk to the train station.
What I didn’t realize then was that Homesickness and I had met before. I was only seven when my parents and I immigrated from the Soviet Union, but it was during those first lonely months in America that she first found me -- although I didn’t know her name yet. She was younger then and less articulate, but she would sit next to me on the school playground full of children speaking a language I didn’t understand, and make me cry for my grandma frying potatoes in Kiev. What I didn’t know then, but have come to learn, is that she was bringing me gifts.
Since that time, I have had many homes. Many more than I ever expected to – Chicago, New York, Jerusalem, Houston, San Francisco, and now Los Angeles. Homesickness and I have aged together. I am not a bright-eyed 24-year-old anymore and she is not a creepy stalker anymore. Strangely, my once unwelcome hound has grown to be a comfortable and comforting companion to me. I can be walking down the beach in Santa Monica, my kids laughing and running ahead of me, and Homesickness is there, gifting me the pitter patter of insects throwing themselves against my windowpane in Houston, or the humid smell of the stairway in my New York apartment building, or the crisp, smoky breeze of nighttime in the Bay. She is my guide through the many rooms of the journey that is my home; a constant reminder of the people I love and the roots I have planted. And the melancholy she brings, which was once so painful, has become a blessing.
I am now the girl who has split into many parts. But each place we live becomes home, because of the traditions and the relationships we build there. And that, my friends, is what this art collection is about. This series of paintings is a meditation on the concept of home. To me, home is not a place – maybe it never has been. It is a combination of ritual, state of mind, and most importantly, it’s the people you love. And these days, Homesickness is always a welcome guest in my home, wherever that may be.