Sometimes there is so much to say there is nothing to say.
This morning is like that. The sky is a clear, deep blue and winter is back yet again. Shaya looked out the doorwall and said, “Mommy! There’s snow again.” But a dusting, and yet the statement is clear: spring has a long wait though we all know it will come.
The sun is stark through the kitchen windows. Blinding from some seats but then you move to another chair and your eyes are clear. I made cottage cheese pancakes for the children. Asher read the Sunday comics. I caught wind of a lifeboat in the newspaper, though I knew it was coming.
In my head, it is Israel, vivid and beckoning like a lover. The newspaper reporter told Anthony Bourdain what a former girlfriend said about being with him: alcohol, cigarettes, great sex and even better breakfasts.
“What did you serve for breakfast?” she asked. I would have asked a different question.
And so I will fly to Israel this summer and hike and sit at sidewalk tables and learn the landscape as if I’d never been there before. Small family wineries. An urban view of my favorite place. A perfect gaze at the water, where in the past I only stopped for kosher Chinese.
As time passes, people blur like the view out a bus window. The last time I was there was an orthodox Passover. My children slept on camp mattresses and the baby wedged himself beside me. He really was a baby then, unable to get from point A to point B by himself.
I went from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv to meet a foodie in a cafe that sold croissants with ham baked between the buttery layers. I liked him and his stories of red wine in France.
And on the bus ride back, a soldier slipped into sleep as we past hills like Tuscany. His hand never left his gun, even as he slept.
I returned to the religious world where I didn’t fit anymore than I ever had. We few Americans repeated the seder on a second night while the rest of the hotel sang with freedom. Israelis poked their heads into our banquet room, wondering why we did the same thing twice.
But you’re not in the Diaspora, their glances said. You are here, in the land, among the rest of us.
Old habits die hard, I suppose. We can always find ways to punish ourselves.
Soon, we will pull on elegant clothes and go to the synagogue. Old habits die hard but new ones can be exciting, even hold promises that the old ones wouldn’t whisper.
It was cold when I trudged to the end of the driveway to retrieve the newspaper. Not too cold – cold enough to want to stand in it and breathe deeply and beckon memories of warmer times, with the supreme confidence that they will definitely return.