Wednesday afternoon. 3:15pm. Chilly weather. The Golan Heights. This is the where I am at the moment, on the eve of the biggest challenge I will ever take; enlisting into the Israel Defence Forces and completing a full service as a combat soldier in the paratroopers brigade.
This is not your regular nerves and excitement before doing something; like starting school, going on holiday or moving house. This is signing your life away for three years and joining an army that is continously protecting its borders and citizens from dangerous terrorists, set out on murdering innocent Jewish civilians. For the next year, the army is going to put me through hell and back, in order to train me into a soldier, capable of following on with the task of defending our one and only piece of land on this earth, where we, the Jewish nation, can call home. As you might notice, I am feeling particularly zionist and ideological at the moment, but can you blame me? After the months and years of talking about this moment, I can finally put some action to the talk, and contribute, as best I can, to doing what I truly believe in.
Tomorrow, I will travel from Ortal to Tel Aviv in the early hours of the morning, and go directly to the 'Bakkum', where hundreds of tzanchanim mothers wil be waving away their sons at the infamous gate. There, after some logistical procedures, I will be given a kitbag (approximately the same size as me), which will contain my uniform, boots, t-shirts etc. We will then have to take off our civilian clothes (!) and get changed into uniform. This is one of the many moments that I have been waiting for, since pondering my future in far-away London. Learning more and more about the army, and constantly seeing soldiers and fellow garin members in the olive green uniform, has only made me more excited for the instant when I see myself in the mirror. From tomorrow I will be the lowest of the low within the army, a true 'tzair', however, my red boots and untucked shirt (customary to look like a skirt) will at least show myself in public that I am a tzanchan. Despite that though, my uniform will have absolutely no pins, no patches, no coloured beret (just the olive green primary beret), nothing, a true sign of being young in the army. The first thing you receive is the basic training shoulder badges, which often cause constant harrassement and bullying from more distinguished soldiers. I guess you have to start somewhere!
So that's it then, only 15 or so more hours of civilian life. It's sad to end my time with the garin here at the kibbutz (in terms of being together, doing activities for 24/7) but I will be back on most, if not all, free weekends, along with others who also aren't 'closed' for the weekend. As I've said before, I have had an incredible three months with my garin and also with the kibbutzniks. Learning hebrew, touring the country and just having so much jokes, has been a perfect way to start my life in Israel and get ready for the army. Although it's sad to end, I also feel ready to move on with this next (and massive) part of my life, I mean this is what I came here for.
At the moment I can't describe the excitement that I am feeling, partly because of getting into tzanchanim, but generally because, although there will be extremely hard times ahead; the army, especially for kravi (combat) soldiers, is a truly fantastic, meaningful and fun experience. I can't wait to get in that uniform and, although this sounds crazy, start one of the many masaot (hikes consisting of running, sprinting and carrying stretchers that range in distance all the way up to 70km!) that one does in basic training. That sensation of being a soldier and making solid friendships, performing tasks, having your life timed to the second, not sleeping more than 6 hours a day, doing guard duty in the middle of the night, running until the blisters pop, making your uniform absolutely spotless and much more, is only around the corner and I am just relishing it. Maybe I won't be saying this tomorrow night!!!
My host dad wil take me and my fellow tzanchan roommate, Omri, to the Bakkum tomorrow. My host family, the Shoshana's, have been amazing and I want to mention them and thank them for all they have done for me so far, and will continue to do.
I would like to end this blog with the two most important people in the world to me, my mummy and daddy. My dad has actually been quite ill recently and there was a point where I might have needed to go home, just in case. Luckily though, he has come through, coincidently after hearing about me becoming a paratrooper, and is going to be ok. I know that both my parents are immensely proud of me and of everything I do, but getting paratroopers was just the icing on the cake, and will give them eager anticipation to coming to my first ceremony: the swearing-in and receiving of gun, which, for paratroopers, is performed at the Kotel. They both miss me with all their hearts and, while I am having the time of my life out here, life is sometimes difficult for them, partly because I am not with them and they just miss me so much, especially regarding the circumstances of our situation. But, of course, they support my decision to be here and are just beeming with pride as to what I have achived so far.
Tomorrow is the big day but it is likely that I will be coming back to Ortal on either Thursday or Friday for my mandatory first free weekend. So I will do another blog this weekend despite maybe not having that many experiences to tell so far, as I may not even go to 'Bach Tzanchanim' (paratroopers' base, where I will be situated for the next 8 months). Nonetheless, tomorrow, I go into the army, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!