It’s not easy living here. There are a million reasons why, if you’ve seen the news in the past few days you know one of them. I am not political, I don’t think I am smart enough to understand the intricacies of the situation here. What I do know is that I live here and sometimes I get scared. Funny thing is, it’s actually not OK to be scared, if the rockets are not falling near you, if a member of your family or close friend isn’t in the thick of it, then you have to just get on. Maybe its other’s bravado or maybe I am green and still don’t get that you shouldn’t believe everything you see on the TV, either way I am sometimes a bit embarrassed of my fear.
In 2006 in the middle of the Lebanon war, my husband was a soldier and I was home alone. It was a time before the childers, so it was just me and the dog at home. In the middle of the night an alarm went off. I was petrified, I couldn’t decide what to do first; get dressed, get under the bed, call someone, turn on the news, so I did 3 of the 4. I called a friend who didn’t pick up, put some clothes on and turned the news on, all whilst sitting on the loo – now I understand the phrase sh*tting yourself. I was frantically trying to remember where my husband had told me the safest place in the apartment was, I thought I had to get downstairs to the bomb shelter in the basement.
Just as an aside, as a middle England (some might say middle earth) girl, I am still surprised that I live in a place with its own bomb shelter and I have my own gas mask.
Anyway, the news was saying nothing, the siren was still blaring – how much of a warning do you get? – I looked out onto the street, opened the apartment door; there was no-one in the stairwell, in fact there was just the siren and an eerie lack of movement. Even in my panic I had remembered to put the dogs lead on (didn’t want him running into danger alone) and we sat, Jesse and I in the stairwell, cuddling, waiting to see what would happen. I figured that geographically speaking, a bomb from Lebanon would come through the opposite wall and we were at least a little protected (because bombs can’t get through walls right?).
Then silence. And more silence. I went back into the apartment and checked the news. Nothing. As I came to my senses I realized that the siren didn’t sound like the practice siren I had heard, nor did it sound like the same siren that’s sounded out of respect on Remembrance Day or Holocaust Day. In fact it sounded rather like a house alarm. Oops.
That’s fear for you, it gets into your system and eats away at your subconscious so that rational thought (especially when half asleep) doesn’t have a chance to get in. If it had really been a siren I did just about everything wrong anyway, apart from putting the dogs lead on of course. I lived in Tel Aviv at that time which was by no means in real danger of being attacked – not so lucky those living further North. 18 months into living here and with a husband in real danger my brain just didn’t think straight. I can laugh (a lot) about it now but at the time I didn’t tell anyone. I was embarrassed by my unfounded fear and angry that I had been so ridiculous.
I can’t imagine how the people living with a real siren sounding many times a day, for weeks on end feel. Their fear is truly unimaginable. Let us all hope for a swift and peaceful solution as the situation once again heats up, that the normal people, like you and I, being targeted will soon see an end to their justified fear.
For myself and my family I hope that the next time I hear a siren it is as a mark of respect and not as a warning.