When my youngest daughter began working on a master’s degree at Oxford University last fall, she became the seventh generation of women in my family to live for an extended period in England. So my husband and I will take a long weekend in June and make a pilgrimage of sorts, back to my mother’s homeland, the country where I lived for years as a foreign correspondent, a place so rooted in our family consciousness that we named our dogs after Jane Austen characters.
But having raised three children to adulthood, I also recognize that each of them has had a way of shaping a familiar landscape into her own new vista. My daughter’s England — decorated by Oxford’s famous spires, populated by centuries-old academic traditions and cosmopolitan peers — is far removed from the peripatetic life I led when I was based in London, and even farther from my mother’s wartime experience in Yorkshire.
Her England isn’t my England, and yet, I also know that traces of our past will undoubtedly surface. I remember traveling with the family through Yorkshire nearly seven years ago and stopping at a local pub for something to eat. Suddenly I was slain by the voices coming from another table, the accent and cadence unmistakable. They sounded like my aunties!
I expect that this trip, like all my many visits to England, will take me in two directions, backward and forward, seeing a familiar place through the fresh eyes of my daughter while searching for the sounds and mementos of my past.
— Jane Eisner, Editor-in-Chief
I’m going home to Utah for my summer vacation after I moved to Jerusalem in August to be a foreign correspondent.
The state of cowboy boots, 1950s diners and 3.2% beer, has become cool since I left it, after high school. Three close friends, none of them Mormon, have decided to live their adult lives in Salt Lake City. One is getting married this summer, and I’m her maid of honor. I can’t wait to hike the craggy hills around Ogden, where I grew up, to get a malted at a Farr’s ice cream shop and to cruise Washington Boulevard in my parents’ car.
When I’m in Utah, friends and neighbors will ask me to regale them with stories of the exotic place where I now reside. What they don’t know is that to my new friends in Jerusalem, they’re the exotic ones.
In Israel, everyone I meet wants to know where I’m from. “Utah?” they ask. “It’s in the United States,” I say. “Near Colorado.” And if that fails: “Near California.”
There’s a reason that Israelis and Palestinians haven’t heard of Utah. In exchange for building the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center, the Mormon Church agreed not to proselytize in Israel. So while Mormons missionaries can be found nearly everywhere, they are absent here. Still, I am reminded of Utah all the time. In downtown Jerusalem, I see Orthodox teens wearing revealing dresses over turtlenecks and stretch pants. They bring to mind my Mormon high school friends, who wore white T-shirts under strappy prom gowns for modesty’s sake. In the West Bank, the terraced hills covered in olive trees remind me of the red rock and scrub oak landscape in southern Utah.
There is something comforting about traveling through this environment as a foreigner. In Utah I was a Jew. In Israel and the Palestinian territories, I’m foremost an American.
— Naomi Zeveloff, Middle East Correspondent
When I was younger, I loved plane food because it was served in oddly shaped bowls on trays. There were triangular bowls that fit two slices of tomato and some lettuce. We never had triangular bowls at home.
I got over the excitement of eating from trays — thanks to university — and triangular bowls (not sure why), but I still like plane food. It might be because these days, I associate flying with going home, which in my case is Vienna.
During the eight-hour flight on Austrian Airlines (“Blue Danube Waltz” in the speakers, flight attendants in bright-red uniforms), I watch the cheesiest teenage movies I can find on the on-board flight entertainment program. I can fit up to three films if I plan them well.And then I work my way through the bowls on my tray. I usually eat everything even though I’m not hungry, and I silently judge my neighbors for not finishing their desserts. (“I mean, yeah, it doesn’t taste like chocolate at all, but seriously, have you got anything better to do?”) Because leaving no trace of salad in that triangular bowl will bring me home faster.
— Anna Goldenberg, Culture Fellow