Letter to (my) Palestine

Two days left, when I will say goodbye to you once again.
I met you for the first time a year ago, and one of those love stories that you see in the movies was born: your fields, your green hills and the smiles of the people who welcomed me here, where I thought that I would have had a three-month experience, but that has become Home.
You were strange, my Palestine, especially in the eyes of those who had never seen you, and never understood your inconsistencies, if not those read in the books.
I saw the wall they had built around you, with strips of sand on its sides to check that no one was approaching it, and barbed wire on its top, and I wondered why the man had decided to separate himself from his fellow men, with that barrier.

"They are in a cage," said A., and at that time I wondered how he, Palestinian, could not understand that he was the one locked in the wall, and not vice versa.
You were raw, my Palestine, for those who have always lived in the opulence of the West, and never had to wait for a military escort to go to school.
Just me, who for years had found the most unthinkable excuses for not waking up ten minutes earlier from my warm bed, in my concrete house, now I found myself waiting every morning, with sun or rain, these little heroes who were traveling dangerous road, to reach the school.
"Education is a step towards freedom" I have heard several times, and this I repeated to myself as I squeezed the hands of those boys and girls who reached us at the end of the road.
You were arrogant, my Palestine, for those who knew you only superficially.
You were arrogant in the character of your inhabitants, in those men and women who grew up under occupation; in their ways of doing so far from ours, without inhibitions, rude at times, careless and cheeky.
"They live here and now" I was told by those who had been here for the longest time, with a half smile, which I sometimes considered mocking, but which I now understand.
I don't know when I fell in love with you, my Palestine.
I could say the first time that a family invited me to eat at home, sitting on those few old mattresses that they had, between a piece of bread and a bowl of oil, fruit of the work of a week at times.
Or maybe when I walked, ran, sometimes suffered in your hills, between soldiers and settlers who attacked those people who slowly had a name, had a story in my eyes, and who were humiliated without restraint.
Or maybe on long winter nights, near a stove, or summer nights, under a sky of stars, talking about resistance and the future, daily life and dreams, with those young people who have become brothers and sisters.
I don't know when it happened, but they say that the best love stories are those born like this, slowly, where you appreciate the negative and positive sides of everything.
It is strange, my Palestine, because for the first time I am ready to leave you.
I will cry, indeed I will, but I know it's time.
Yet, with your arrogance, stubbornness and strength, you taught me that you must always fight, always see beyond the black and white that sometimes the world puts before us, and appreciate all that you have.
You made me hungry, my Palestine, for love and struggle for justice not only for this land of olive trees and hills, but for the whole world.
I need to see more, to bring all the love you have taught me elsewhere, before everything fades away, inside me.
I don't want to forget your strength and your passion, your people, your lands.
I want to take this with me, improve myself, and then come back here, to your hot summer land, under the Palestinian sun, and bring you what I have learned.
You have given me so much, my Palestine, and I want to bring you something of mine now.
But I need to grow up, I need to see the rest of the world, I who can do it, and take you with me.
Now I understand the mocking smile of those volunteers who said "they live here and now" when I asked them to describe the Palestinians to me.
It wasn't mocking.
It was awareness.
It is something that now, after almost a year in your land, I also carry with me.
As I carry with me the smile of your people, their strength, their stories of resistance and passion, of love for their land.
Sometimes you still make me angry, my Palestine, you make me suffer, like your inhabitants.
Still, I believe that all this love is worth suffering a little, every now and then.
For the Palestinians, the occupation is the soldier who does not allow you to reach a hospital because of a checkpoint, being arrested on the street because of no documents, being attacked by settlers because you were grazing too close to the outposts.
For me, the occupation is that airport that could stop me once and for all, which could no longer allow me to see your people, your land.
But I don't want to think about it, my Palestine, now I want to continue to dream of you and take you with me, until our next meeting.
That it will be soon, that it will be sweet and bitter as it always has been, with its contradictions and the strength to fight, like the road that has brought me back to you, every time, and that I will take with me wherever I go, before seeing you again.
See you soon, my Palestine.
Because, in the end, you always go back to where you have been well.