Saturday, August 6, 2011

International Incident!

This is a 6th century mosiac placed in the Wohl Rose gardens, one of my favorite places in Jerusalem. 

I was going to scan in some pictures of me and my crew (former fellow students that is) checking out the Wohl Rose Gardens, but I don't have a scanner. I realized I would have to go to Fed Ex down the street. But I am in my dance clothes. Even though I do have some way cute dance outfits, it might not be all that appropriate. I guess I could change. But I'm just so comfortable.

I met a man the other night at the library. It was raining, and the library was dim and quiet, and it was just the perfect setting for an International Incident.

He came up to me with his little girl, who could have played a younger version of Esther. The straight, graceful nose; long, curly hair shot with gold; eyes brimming with intelligence. And skin the color of ripe olives... I would know that skin anywhere.

"Are you guys from Israel?" I asked with glee. Then I noticed the writing on the man's shirt, which I took to be Hebrew. Large, blocky letters.

He smiled at me, genuinely pleased that I knew his country of origin. It is lonely abroad. We talked about everything Israeli- street food, hummus, falafels, the scent of those exotic spices... oh the scent... okay, mainly we talked about food. Food, that great bridge between peoples of widely varying backgrounds.

And then, in a moment of hubris, wanting to show off my world-traveling ability, I said casually, "I could tell you were from Israel, because of the Hebrew writing on your shirt."

He looked down at his shirt, then grinned widely at me. "Actually," he said. "That's Japanese. It's from when I went to a Pink Floyd concert in Japan." We looked at each other, and then just started cracking up.

I guess it is time for me to start traveling again. Mistaking Japanese for Hebrew is beyond rusty. There are always the usual limitations. Finances, work, who will take care of my kitty? But desire- real desire- always finds a way. I love this quote by Liz Gilbert.

"I have always felt, ever since I was sixteen years old and went to Russia with my saved up babysitting money, that to travel is worth any cost or sacrifice."

The little girl's name was Michal, and the guy promised to bring me some of his homemade hummus. Except, he felt to point out, he bought the tahini. He did not, as his grandmother did before him, crush the seeds in a mortar himself.

When I lived in Israel, oh, forever ago, I slept in a tiny room with three other girls. We shared a bathroom- how we did not end up killing each other, I'm not entirely sure- and at night, I put on my little cassette of Israeli folk music. Then, in my glasses and baggy pants bought down in the city, I would dance to Hava Nagila for my roommates. They actually really seemed to enjoy it. Especially the part where I lift my hands to the sky and shout loudly, "Oy! Oy!"

Yeah, we were kind of nerds, with no sense of style, spending inordinate amounts of time in the library when we weren't out looking at mosaics... but it was the best time ever.

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