Before I left for Jerusalem, I was told that I would have free access to a "nice gym". Of course, I should have known better! Nice things are never free in Israel.
I knew that I should not have been so disappointed by the manky concrete room (which is also the bomb shelter) of building that houses my Hebrew lessons. Additionally, there was no particular need to be shocked that the hours of operation of the manky gym were from 2pm-5pm, Monday-Thursday, and that I needed a doctor's note to even set foot on a Stairmaster from 1986.
So, I accepted the situation and I decided to adapt my exercise plan to running. The wonderful thing was that after just a few weeks of working to develop running regimen, I finally shed my "5 pounds of excess love" from two sedentary winters in New England. The running also gave me a reason to explore random Jerusalem neighborhoods and have a very solid understanding of the city's topography. I finally started to feel like myself again...and...then...well, we all know the recent events with my ankle...
The irony, of course, is that prior to my departure from the US, my yoga mat and I had a long discussion. It came down to the realization that packing him along with me meant that I could not bring the books and articles I need to write my dissertation. I assured him (my yoga mat, that is) that he would be safe in my brother's attic. I would soon return, and we can continue to walk through life together. (Of course, there is nothing remiss in mentioning that this is the first and longest time that my yoga mat and I have been apart.)
With a friend from the US coming to visit me this week, I made the request that she bring my yoga mat with her.
"He love a plane ride," I joked. "And he's so well-behaved. He won't say a thing the whole time."
Unfortunately, the response to my light request was almost nearly as devastating as the manky gym, but not nearly as disappointing in the injured ankle.
The response (from my friend who regularly, yet often oxymoronically, takes great pride in her compassion towards others):
"No! No way! Out of the question! I will not bring a friggin' yoga mat to Isra-el!! It's too big. YOU are inconveniencing ME, and you are out of your mind if you think that I'm going to lug that much stuff for you!"
Um, yeah...so about that....Perhaps a simple: "Sorry, just I don't think I'll be able to do it with my luggage" would have sufficed. Of course, none of this is helped by the fact that I made this request after indicating that I had already taken the time to do a price survey on the same item here. Just like nice things more generally, yoga mats sure don't come cheap in Israel. (It hurts my soul that they are not only expensive, but very poorly made.)
So, with some amount of resignation, I am sucking it up, going to the commercial shopping mall nearby, and buying a new yoga mat tomorrow. Of course, I have made no mention to my visiting friend that her plans to stay for 3 weeks may or may not pose some amount of inconvenience to me, my writing time, or my research. (Two weeks would have been more ideal, but who am I to have needs or an alternative opinion?) Far be it for me to put that into the Universe...
Yet, what my friend does not know is that I have every intention to roll up and "lug" my new yoga mat through Jordan, across Egypt and down the Nile River with us next week. (It will fit very nicely at the base of my medium-sized Northface pack.) While we take our 5 day boat cruise from one end of Egypt to the other, I am envisioning early morning practices on the upper deck. Right now, I can close my eyes and see ancient river water beneath my finger tips, sun on my face, and Africa's wind in my hair. The truth is that my ankle, body and soul especially need tender attention right now. And so, my dear friend is going to have to suck it up--or better--accept and adapt--the foggy notion that this never had anything to do with her.
Hopefully I can find a pretty blue mat tomorrow that won't burst my bank account. If not, I may go for green...