I’ve been thinking a lot recently about something that happened almost two years ago. It was right after I got back from Jordan, and I volunteered to share my experiences studying abroad at the Study Abroad Office fair, where returned students can show pictures and information with prospective Study Abroad students. They stuck the entire Middle East together which, at that particular event, consisted of Jordan and Israel.
The girl representing her time in Israel is someone I knew from … classes? the Jewish community? who knows how you know these people, in any case, we knew each other. The conversation went something like:
“So you were in Jordan…how was it?”
“Yeah, it was awesome. How was Israel?”
“Great…[idle chit chat]…so were there any boys?”
“Actually, I was dating a Palestinian guy. What about you?”
“Yeah, I’m actually still dating a soldier…”
Then there was a moment – a pregnant pause – some awkwardness because here we were: she would never date a Palestinian (even in Jordan) and I would never date an IDF soldier (I know, I know, never say never). But we were stuck in this little room together with our battling slideshows and glorious stories of being the American in the Middle East.
And she was on one side and I was on another, and we chose not to engage, exhausted by the mere thought. Content just to listen to each other’s stories and talk about boys, Palestinian, Jordanian, Israeli, or American, and eat Chinese and Indian food from those more revolutionary Study Abroad destinations.