Our Birthright Israel trip ended this afternoon, and after tearful goodbyes and promises to stay in touch, those of us who opted to extend our stay in Israel found ourselves, and our bags, on a Tel Aviv sidewalk. We stood in a cluster, smartphones in hand, and waited for someone to tell us what to do next.
But no one did. Because after 10 days of regimented scheduling and jam-packed days, we were suddenly on our own.
With the exception of the occasional Mahane Yehuda lunch or Ben Yehuda Street dinner, the plans for everything we did and everywhere we went were prepared in advance, deliberately and methodically. The one time we were tasked with making a major decision as a group—choosing the color of our official trip t-shirts—the conversation descended into a chaotic, confusing mess that resulted in the somewhat surprising dark green shirts that arrived from the printer the next day (though the design totally rules).
Were we hungry? Would we need water? Maybe a hat? All of these were pressing questions. Where was the nearest bathroom? How long until dinner? What time did we need to wake up tomorrow?
We stood around for what seemed like a while, until the crowd slowly began to disperse. Some people headed to a nearby ATM, others of us hopped into hotel-bound cabs, and a few just began walking. Our time together, for most us at least, was ending—and it was time to grow back up.