“Hey kid, why don’t you ever drink decaf?” my grandpa asked me earlier today, cringing at how “strong” the pot of coffee I made was.
While a lot of things have changed in the past month or so, my caffeinated lifestyle still holds some continuity. And my grandparents, of all people, should know this (although I think I proved their wishful thinking wrong when I scavenged the coffeemaker that they, not so cleverly, hid in the basement.)
In the past month, there has been a story behind every cup (okay yeah, I may or may not be quoting a sign I saw in Starbucks). But I’m being entirely serious. One month ago, I was drinking coffee back home in Brooklyn, five days ago I was drinking coffee in freaking Israel! and now I am currently drinking coffee in the unpleasantly cold land of Wisconsin. Talk about an eventful start to the New Year.
So backtracking a little bit, in December I went home to Brooklyn for the holidays and whatnot. It felt weird to be back. It made me remember why I love that city so much but also why I hate it. I really enjoyed seeing friends and family and eating lots of food that would be forbidden from my grandparents house. However, being home forced me to deal with a strand of unsettled emotions that I hoped would decompose due to natural causes. This certainly wasn’t the case. But somehow, in the short amount of time that I was home, I managed to leave things in a seemingly positive manner and I’m really happy about that.
Alright so now the exciting part, on January 1st I went to Israel!!!!! Let it be known that waiting to pack an hour before you have to leave for the airport after you went out all night for New Years Eve is a TERRIBLE idea, really just terrible. I don’t think I even looked at what clothes I packed because the entire trip I had the fashion sense of a misdirected sixth grader. I won’t even go into specifics as to how much stuff I forgot (sneakers, I forgot sneakers) so then I had to buy some at an open market and I got totally ripped off because I’m American (although apparently I got a discount because I have nice eyes, so that’s good I guess). But besides for that, the trip was absolutely incredible. I participated in a program called Birthright which is a free trip to Israel for Jews between the ages of 18-26. The sights were momentous, the culture fascinating, and the people unforgettable. I’ve touched upon my Jewish upbringing in some of my earlier blog posts and going to Israel really validated my Jewish identity. I realize now that I don’t need to justify my Judaism to anyone because there is no one, right way to be Jewish. Even though I don’t know all the prayers, I have a nose-ring, and I am disgusted by lox, I still carry Jewish values at heart and that‘s what matters most. On a side note, Israel had a lot of really neat coffeehouses and I hope I can go back there someday so that I can explore them all. However, the “iced coffee” there isn’t what we consider iced coffee here in the states. Ordering coffee in Israel essentially became a game because you never knew what you were actually ordering.
But after a month of trying new cups of coffee, life has somehow brought me back to Wisconsin. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure if I was coming back. Part of me wanted to be radical and just make Aliyah (the process of making Israel your home) while I was there and just hang out at coffeehouses and then eventually meet my soul mate, you know the usual. Another part of me wanted to see if I could make things work in Brooklyn. But after many elevator rides of contemplation, I decided to come back to Wisconsin.
It’s not as familiar as New York or as exciting as traveling in Israel but I still have a strong feeling that good things await in Wisconsin. I have a new winter coat, a freshly printed resume, and a better sense of who I am now. Tomorrow, I’ll make my first appearance at the local coffeehouse here in Milwaukee and I couldn’t be more excited.
Also, breaking news, my grandparents have spruced up their dessert selection to prunes AND dates which is equally as exciting.