Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year on the Beach

After  two weeks spent driving between physics institutes, we spent the last day (December 31st) on the beach.   We climbed on two nearby rocky “islands”, talked about how one would define an island, and about how seas evolve. We also jumped over the waves, and re-evaluated our lives on the sand. Mihai built a one-dimensional model assigning a numerical value to the important people and things in our life. I was not very convinced by the model, but it was fun. I felt re-energized, refreshed, and, in this last day, happier than I had been in a long time. 

Water, Sun and Mihai: the elements that have always made me happy. The water was cold. However, when the Sun was high up, the beach was very pleasant. The writing on the left likely advises readers to not climb on the rocks. Many signs did not include an English translation, which to me meant that Israelis are proud of their languages, and even though they have an incredibly beautiful country, they do not care much what happens to their tourists. Besides, the rocks did not seem dangerous. So we climbed them, but were careful not to slip.

I have not been to a beach alone with my brother in a very long time. When I was visiting him at Caltech, we used to go to Malibu and the LAX airport beach. This was before either of us had children. We would go swimming there independent of the time of the year, and then climb the rocks in Malibu. It was always refreshing (and cold).

Every place feels a bit like home. Mihai had left Romania when  I was 17. We have never lived in the same place since. Sometimes I did not see my brother for a whole year or even two, but every place we met seemed like home to a certain degree. Every time we are together it feels almost as if we have never been apart. Similarly, any room or apartment that contains my mother and the children can also easily feel like home in a few days independent of whether it's in Israel, Martinique, Switzerland, the US or Romania. This trip to Israel just the two of us happened courtesy of Easy Jet & the Israeli border officials, who did not let David fly.

No lemons to make lemonade.  Used oranges instead. After sitting on the beach and evaluating our impact on the world, and the impact of the world on us, it was fitting to go orange picking. We had bought honey, and the wild oranges are very sour in Israel - so ideal for lemonade. Our theory is that these are the oranges that the Romans must have eaten. They taste similar to lemons, but the taste is more complex. They are also softer than lemons and easier to juice. People do not eat them either in Israel or Spain, but with the help of our big jar of honey we made  very good juice!

More on Bees and Honey. I have always thought very highly of bees and honey. When we were growing up my maternal grandfather, who helped raise us, loved honey. Honey was eaten with the soup spoon. He used copious amounts of it from a big barrel bought from my other grandfather (Grandpa Ionel from Galati). Grandpa Ionel had his own bees and produced honey with love. He referred to the bees as his girls. He always talked to them: "go little girl; a little to the left", etc. He said that they knew him, and never bit him. Both my grandparents are gone now, but some parts of them live through us and the love of honey is passed on.
Positive weight loss: courtesy of job applications.

Potae ben boschet/Potae bin boschet. In the spirit of the new country we were in, Mihai came up with a new nickname for me. Instead of “Potae” (I call him “Cotarla” and so we are even),  I became "Potae ben boschet" or "Potae bin boschet" - depending on how he felt like. For those of you who do not know this, "Potae" and "Cortarla" are synonyms and mean dogs of all kinds that are not pure breed. Bin is the arabic for son of, and Ben in Hebrew has the same meaning (David ben Gurion means David, the son of Gurion while Osama bin Laden means Osama,  the son of Laden; we were told not to use the two names in the same sentence because this will make people unhappy; I, therefore, put them in parenthesis and, of course, imply no connection between the two beyond the ben and the bin). Hebrew and Arabic are the two official languages of Israel.

My new nickname has the allegoric meaning of stray dog from the bush. People keep asking us where we are from, and this seems a suitable answer. When we go to Romania, we are foreigners because we have left Romania 12+ years ago and come from abroad, and when we go anywhere else we are foreigners, too.

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