Our New Home, Jerusalem

We’ve been in our new city for 10 days now and each day I decide to put off blogging a little longer until I get a better feel for the place that will be our home for the next three years. “Jerusalem is a complicated place,” everyone keeps telling us. I’m already seeing a bit what they all mean and realizing it could take years before I can intelligently summarize the dynamics of this city. That’s not going to stop me from sharing my experiences here.

It’s funny because one week after I arrived in Madrid, I declared that Everything You’ve Heard About Madrid is True and gushed about how much I’d love living there. Two weeks after arriving to Sana’a, I wrote that although we were living in a shabby hotel, our room possessed a certain amount of retro charm. Everything about Sana’a was creatively inspiring, I wrote. I somehow had a quicker grasp on both those places, and immediately found things to like.

That hasn’t happened here for me yet. I was expecting more hustle and bustle and Jerusalem seems quiet, and also monochromatic on account of everything being white or beige. Groups of teenagers walking from the school in our neighborhood seem significantly less rambunctious than those at home. People walking on the streets keep their heads down. I felt an air of somberness in the narrow and slippery ancient stone streets of the historic Old City both times I’ve visited. Guards with guns are all over. I can make these surface observations, yet I don’t have a sense of the overall feel of this place. It seems this is a city where one has to do the legwork to locate that cozy cafe, the lively bar, the delicious restaurant, the most reasonable grocery store, the vendor with the best fruit, the not-too-hilly running path. Jerusalem is not a city that immediately presents its charms.

I was in a funk for the first week, and a big reason for that is because our new apartment is a bummer. It’s drab, dim, and damp, and located in the ‘burbs with no shops, bars, or restaurants nearby. I love to host dinners and parties, Eatwith meals, group workout classes, and book clubs, and I can’t picture doing any of that in this space. I’m doing my best to shake my blahness and am starting to picture what colors I could paint the living room to brighten it up (perhaps a slightly more muted version of the chartreuse Madrid living room?) where I will hang things, where our home bar will go. So now I can confidently say with 79 percent certainty: I can make our apartment look good.

The first night we spent in our new apartment, Mr. Dame in Spain and I were sipping bourbon (a lovely double-oaked Woodford Reserve brought back from our recent trip to Louisville), the Diplocats were stretched out nearby, their harrowing flight erased from their feline brains. We however, were jet-lagged as all heck and feeling bad about our new apartment when a song came on Spotify that reminded me that we have each other (and our kitties), and not only do we tend to make the best of whatever situation we’re in, we generally have lots of fun. (Yep, you may have guessed it: It was that “Home is wherever I’m with you” song and I was blubbering whiskey tears by the end of it. Seriously, that song always gets me, especially when moving to a new place.

The Diplocats, Gus and Boj, enjoying our government-issued brown couch.
The Diplocats, Gus and Boj, enjoying our government-issued brown couch more than we are.

Housing suck aside: Here’s a enormous, epic, encompassing whopper of a bright side: In the little more than a week since we’ve arrived, I’ve attended two parties, one of which ended in a werewolf-hunting board game (so, basically, it was awesome), we’ve been invited to two dinners out, and we’ve gone to a ball. I’ve met people with whom I could immediately see myself being great friends, and that’s never happened quite so quickly. Another bright side: The food is everything I thought it would be. It’s resplendent with fresh veggies and cheese and just plain delicious.

So that’s dispatch numero uno from our new post. It’s sadly time to retire The Dame in Spain moniker, because while I’m still a dame, I am no longer in Spain. Henceforth, I’ll be calling calling myself Em in Jerusalem. Also, coming soon: A new blog design.

With love from the Holy Land,

Em in Jerusalem


  1. Hi,

    I was reading your blog re madrid. Very nice, thx. I have lived in Zurich, Madrid, London, and Tel Aviv, and
    In fact I went for dinner with a few of your husbands colleagues in Jerusalem.
    Israel is exactly like you say, but it can be great too. I, in some ways loved it there, by the time I was leaving.
    Please pm me, if you want swap any tips, or to vent.:)
    P.s, I totaly get the xmas thing too. I was depressed when everyone went to work for xmas day.
    keep writing:)

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