Avi Eisen

photo by: Avi Eisen

(ck says: Jump right in, no need to introduce yourself.)

…So: The Pope. Again. I have just one more thing to say about it: I’m really jealous of him. Nope, not the chic jewelry or the entourage of frustrated, young Italian men.

It’s his location: Mediterranean (kinda like us), heavily spiritual (kinda like us) and yet somehow perpetually basking in sun-drenched optimism (not like us.) This is borne of owning lots and lots of really good art, and having decided on an undisputed majority religion / nationality a long, long time ago. Italy is about fabulous taste and tastes, and living very well alongside a super-strict religion that an overwhelming majority of its citizens belong to, most of them theoretically, and everyone just goes along with it. Good times.

Of course, Italians and Israelis can both boast excellent local coffee. (Don’t worry, I’m going somewhere with this.)

I have a serious coffee habit, and, as a consequence, a favorite mug is a serious matter for me.

I have two favorite mugs at the moment: One, not really mine, is a fancy-shmancy black faux marble-with-gold-inlay number sent to my husband by Yeshiva University (he does some pro-bono legal work for them, in addition to representing them in Israel), clearly in pre-Madoff days. It comes with a coaster, which I never use, but which was certainly a classy touch.

I, not he, am a graduate of said university (SCW ’93) and yet, it is fitting that the YU merchandise in our cupboard is not properly mine. Like the rest of my religiously affiliated identity these days, I find it lovely and useful and appropriate for our home, but prefer to borrow it from my husband.

The other mug is really tacky by comparison: A souvenir from the trip my parents took with my teenage son to Italy. It shows a drawing of the Fontana di Trevi, and, in the cheesy way of travelabilia, proclaims ‘I HEART Roma’ (not that ‘I HEART Hashem’ is cheesy, Hashem forbid…) on the other side. To me this mug says: Your kid got there before you did, sucker.

It says: You have wanderlust, and yet you sit in your chair and sublimate your dreams into pretty words. It says: Get out of suburbia, girl. The thought percolates, like the coffee, grows hot and bitter, and scalds my palate. (Ach, such a drama queen. Really, I’m just a little antsy. Again, the coffee.)

Truly, though, Italy – particularly The Pope’s own Rome – has been a dream of mine ever since I read Beach Music back in ’97. We almost went for my husband’s 30th; for my 30th; after he came back from Lebanon; for our 15th anniversary. 

But every time we almost scrape together the money, something breaks, or something (or someone) more pressing comes up. It’s a hop, skip and jump from Israel, and I could sure use the head-clearing. And yet…Life is Beautiful, but sure is pricey.

We’ve resolved to get there, come hell (to Rome) or high water (to Venice) before I turn 40.

Please drop a quarter in the mug on your way out.

(Was that jumping in, or introducing myself? A little of both…I guess. Pleased to meet ya’, Jewlies.)

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