Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Shortie (No, this is not in reference to my height)

I have much to write about and I promise I will write far more than any of you care to read. But not right now. Because in less than 4 hours I will be leaving my apartment map in hand to go to Rome. So as you can imagine I am busy procrastinating the whole packing thing but will have to cave in eventually.

Still, I needed to write because of an amusing story that just can't wait. Today I went to a Teaching English as a Second Language workshop which was taught by a Brazilian-German named Matan. My friend Linda came with me and when Matan said his name we just turned to each other and laughed.

Then he told us he wanted to start the workshop with a story. Go figure he would choose an old Jewish story (possibly from the Talmud but don't quote me on that). The story, which I've heard several times before, is about an old man who has the same dream (about a buried bag of gold under a bridge in a city far away) every night for weeks. Finally he decides to go to the city to see if the bridge exists. In fact it does, but there is a guard standing watch over the bridge. So the old man tells the guard about his dream and asks if he can dig for the gold. The guard laughs and says he himself has been having a dream about buried gold under a man's kitchen tiles in a small town far away (incidentally the man in his dream looks like this old man) but the guard isn't crazy enough to go in search of that man's house. The old man realizes this dream is about him, he returns home, digs for gold in his own kitchen, and finds it buried there. Moral of the story: sometimes you have to go on a long journey to find the treasure that you have always had with you.

So Linda and I were quite amused at the randomness of this encounter, but I actually found the teacher and his story to be surprisingly deep and insightful. I think his story holds true for my trip to Barcelona because in a lot of ways I'm traveling abroad to find out more about who I am. But I also have to admit that his story telling and clear Jewish cultural heritage made me think of my mother, a woman who dedicated much of her life to telling Jewish folktales.

Rome was the last place she and my father went before she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer (two words that I can't help but capitalize). The pictures of my parents together in Italy are the last images I have of my mother as she was, as I want to remember her. In some ways I think I want to go to Rome to find her. And I know she is no more in Rome than in Barcelona, New York or Chicago, but following in her footsteps somehow makes me feel closer to her.

If I believed in Divine messages perhaps I would say this was God's way of telling me that my traveling is only helping me to find the pieces and memories of my mother I have always had. Well, I'm not sure if I believe that, but it's a nice thought to carry me off on what will surely be a wonderful trip regardless.

I promise to post pictures on my return and talk about my dad's visit in Barcelona, but until then, Ciao!

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