The grass is prickly and unkempt against the back of my neck. My sister Naomi is laying next to me smiling and laughing. We haven’t seen each other in two months. Plants are surrounding us with their beauty and life.
Everything is going great; I feel safe and happy. My sister rolls over and asks me what being in a warzone was like. Everything is changing in my brain. The plants no longer seem like signs of life and happiness; instead, I feel like they are holding me and suffocating me like the four walls of the bombshelter.
I had just met the other members of my travel group, and we were hanging out on the roof of the hostel, looking out at Jerusalem. There were beautiful lights of different colors coming from every direction. We were trying to pick out which light was the most eye catching when we heard a loud siren. It sounded like the testing of the tornado siren that happens every first Tuesday of the month where I live, but this siren was different. At first, we tried to play it off like we weren’t scared because we had all just met each other and we weren’t sure if there was a legitimate threat. Of course we all knew about conflicts between Arabs and Israelis in the Middle East, but we never thought we would actually be in any danger during our trip.
The counselors for our trip were screaming and telling us to get off the roof right away. They rushed us down into an underground room and shut the door. The room was small and couldn't readily fit everyone. I felt like the space in my lungs for air was less every time another person was squeezed into the small suffocating walls of the bombshelter.
I felt the panic in the room. We were all privileged kids from the United States or Canada who had never experienced a true threat to our lives. The little time i spent in that bomb shelter was the most vivid experience of my life. I turn to my sister and say, “It was interesting.”