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Our thoughts form the world

I arrived home even though Shiyara really wanted us to stay in America. She loved New York.

I would love to live in New York again for a few months at a time but as I told Shiyara, we would still need to go home to Casablanca to at least pack our things.

We returned to our friends who just had their first baby and he is as beautiful as his mother. They confessed they would be going back to America within the year. I will be losing my best friend and it hasn’t let me sleep at all but as I watch MasterChef and drink tea I noticed some words of wisdom written on the paper attached to a string, “Our thoughts are forming the world.” This is what I said to myself an hour earlier as I tossed and turned trying to sleep thinking of my friend leaving.

We can’t control the outcome of most anything in life but we can control how we see the world and it changes everything. This is what I came back to Morocco to do. Finish all that I started and sit with the discomfort of learning what I need to learn, going through the difficulties, be patient so I can move on in due time from this stage of evolution literally and metaphorically. So for tonight I pray that all the things she and I want for our families come true and that no more rest is lost worrying over what may or might arrive because of course no matter how painful or abandoned we will feel, we can handle it.

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Pessah in Casablanca

The best part of the seder is being surrounded by family, anyone’s family especially dysfunctional ones. I love the noise and the bustle of children playing and adults chattering and everyone having an opinion and where you don’t need to be polite anymore because you are with your crazy noisy big ridiculous family. I am sitting with an exes family and even though we are finished being a couple, his family to me is not finished. If we married people for their families I would have married lots of men. Families here remind me of my own big family with 5 sisters and an older brother and an aura of beautiful chaos.

 

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The Rabbi's children - Casablanca

Blog, Casablanca, children, culture, Judaism, living abroad, love, Morocco, People, Personal, Photo, Photography, Pictures, Random, reflections, relationships, Travel

The Rabbi’s children – Casablanca

The Rabbi's children - Casablanca

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Life: She is my little sister, my little girl. May I always do right by her.

I enter my home and I yell out “Shiyara!!!!” and she yells back “Mama!!” The pitter patter of her running feet match my heart. I wait for her big smile to appear around the corner! I throw my purse down and jump down to kneel on the floor, like I am asking everyday to marry an angel, to open my arms and wait for her to rush in. The seconds don’t race as fast as my heart and it skips…for her. “Come come come!!!!!” She makes it to me and I can only grab on for a split second and then she’s gone.

Without her there would be no home and no where to return to. She is my home.

I went to visit a woman in a beautiful house with a beautiful husband who has done very well in his life. She wants for nothing but I would never switch a day in her shoes for all the wealth in the world. My house has Shiyara and with her all the life and love and fun and warmth that I could have prayed g-d would grant me.

Even as I break in my low moments, even when I scold myself for not being the best mother… my one honest joy no matter the state of the world outside is seeing her in it sleeping beside me…my daughter is a strong willed beauty.

She is my little sister, my little girl. May I always do right by her.

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“Don’t deny it. Let it go back to where it came from.”

“One person not in life is going to love it and the others are going to hate it. I will disappoint them and disrupt who I am supposed to be for them.”

Before she left to Kuwait she let me film her and speak to her on camera about her mother, her lover, her feelings of leaving home. In the morning I woke up at 6 and sat down stairs listening to her run around quietly. She slipped a bottle of perfume in my bag and kissed me. The rest of the family came to sit with me. The silence was unbearable that I felt only then like I had to keep myself discreet and far from crying. She instantly stood and left the room. I followed and found her in the bathroom already washing her face. She is like a bigger sister, one of my best friends and I have never seen her crying. She hugged me and told me in English that she loved me. I could only say, “One year. It will only be one year.”

She walked into the bedroom where Iklas slept. She laid her head at her feet and cried. I walked away and waited by the door.

Working, traveling ,leaving home, leaving your heart behind. Her image stays with me.

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i need your hands

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unconditional surrender

“Exile is the only country without a geography. It has, however, a climate, a culture, an ecology, an archeology and virtually a national smell.”

“The map of the unreal, the imaginary. And it is only then that they express precisely the immeasurable experience of exile.”-Ugresic

Remembrance is possession. Memory is object(s).

Jerusalem

Writing on an author for class, I find that against my will i love these writings in The Croatian that are both scholarship and memoir, impersonal facts and personal stories in between record and invention on this feeling of being displaced.

Searching for home, being in love, loss, exile, feeling displaced…has been the subject of my poems since coming to America at ten. It’s the spirit that makes me hunt genealogy records and save all pictures and all my father’s jewelry. When asked why i am this way, why i do these things, i could never explain it well enough.

All the objects, idols, images, tangibles we’re taught to disrespect but whose importance to me all the same is wrapped up in a story i read.

A Bosnian friend remarks that there are two kinds of refugees, “those who have photographs and those who have none.”

On this particular day the Bosnian-Serb general/war criminal by the name of Ratko Mladic noticed that the Sarajevo home of an acquaintance was on his bombardment list. Mladic phoned him to tell him that he had less then five minutes to collect his photographs and leave.

“The general, who had been destroying the city for months, knew precisely how to annihilate memory. That is why he ‘generously’ bestowed on his acquaintance life, with the right to remembrance.”

All photographs are mementos mori. “To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to…relentless melt.” – Susan Sontag

Jerusalem Art Project

remembrance is possession, and i am relentlessly possessed.

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transverse unshamed, take it as a souvenir

your toothbrush is resting down the hall
I shut my eyes
entwined in your legs
aware you will be traveling soon.
I find us,
waking up in the dark with
five interwoven parts, persuaded, won over,
seduced, converted, seduced the other way.
in the night praying hands come out of
a wetness on these finger tips,
un-self consciously wandering across your back.
in the night I lay quiet
listening to you speaking in tongues
watching you sleep with me, traveler.
traveling into your dreams
tugging on to kites and hemlines
running through space
where we’re nearing the lighthouse,
I close my eyes
tighter,
you’re almost at the gate,
I smile, I want to thank you
for this…

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Post Script: broke in Rabat

the man outside of L’Belle Vie who was trying to give me directions to go to the Embassy and the Main Bank Au Marque next door couldn’t quite understand why i insisted on walking. “It’s really far Lalla. Just take a taxi it’s only maybe 20dhs.” He is distinctively calm. And unlike most young men from around this way, he has a gentle way of being that never insists that “you must…” He’s young and has the most beautiful eyes I’ve seen on a man. If there is one word I would use to describe him, I might initially say “sweet” but when you say “sweet” you smile and it’s said in the same way that something sweet is consumed–quickly. it’s not that he’s “sweet” or even cute as much as he is soft…like the way you say “soft” quietly, softly, prolonging such a small word.

he’s searching for the reason i really really just want to walk and i’m quick and in contrast to him. “Yes, I want to walk, just tell me how to get there and I’ll find the way.” He tries to explain looking outward to the roads and back to me as I look at him intensely, trying to listen to (his silences)…his directions. After a long five minutes of him slowly trying to explain he says, “but the roads are wild and you will find it hard to get there.” he looks at me with concern and i think i can actually tell this man and i think he will understand. even though we’re the same age he seems so much older than me and even though he’s a man and he’s gorgeous he doesn’t seem to know it/believe it, and even though I’m foreign he doesn’t seem to care. “It’s cheap miss, it’s only 20dhs.” He’s looking at me as if he’s asking and i think i can tell him that, “I have no money to take a taxi” I have to walk. “Not even 20dhs.” I don’t say anything. Not that I gave the last of my cash away to the girl on the bus who needed to get home, thinking i could get more for myself from the ATM later. He’s looking at me with these big eyes that are so concerned. He doesn’t take a second to think this through before he says, “it’s not a problem. here, wait right here, I’ll be back, I’ll give you the money.” “NO!” I stop him from going into the store. “Why? you need it don’t you?” “i don’t want it, i can’t take it, i’ll walk.” “no…i promise this is okay.” He waits outside in the sun with me as a store full of shoppers look on. He’s looking at me, waiting for me, just saying, “it’s okay. it’s really okay. it’s okay.” and with that I breeeeeeath, let my hands fall to my sides and warn him that I think I might cry. he’s quiet, he waits for me there, without saying a word as the tears are now streaming down my face. he’s waiting with me, witnessing me, not saying a word.

He leaves and returns, puts the money in my hand. tells me that if I have a problem with the bank to come back, that he works here as the director. I tell him this is shuumah (shame) for me to take this and he says no. if i want and if i can and only if i would feel better, than pay it back when i can, but if not, it’s not shuumah. He looks at my red cheeks and tells me to wait again. He comes back gives me a bottle of water and tells me that everything will be okay. i get in a cab and cry in silence. he made me cry, but the irony and beauty of this whole thing made me laugh.

“You might as well say goodbye to that money” for the next 2 months as apparently this has happened before to them. Charles gives me 10 bucks at the American Em. His grandmother went to Smith and he tells me, “I hear you’re losing your dining rooms.” How the hell does he know that. “How do you know that?” The Herald Tribune/New York Times and Shirley, the Smith alum who offers to take me in after the feast/holiday here that i am spending with my family. i need to get around still to film so i am resolving the problem:this one anyhow. i wait. ready to laugh that you have inherited me. yes that penguin with wings that can’t fly, flopping about, cute but useless. (a mess)

PS: there is a kid (maybe 4 years old) shouting into the phone in front of me (that he can’t quite reach up to just yet) of the teleboutique. he’s all by himself talking to the person on the phone about his zween girlfriend with all these formal introductions as the old grandfatherish man behind me grumbles into his cell phone!

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when i will reach home

life holds your hand and breaks your heart.

it tells you that a broken heart isn’t bad. each break is an opening.

so i put trust in love just as the dream ends, lying in bed touching the one i love. the dream ends and like magic it expands out anew like a sand timer opening up on the other side.

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To the girls who cannot sleep

You say you can’t sleep.  you say that you lay on your bed with your eyes open in the dark.  you replay the conversations, you think of the world, big and small, yours and mine…lonely and brillant and sweet. This is you tonight.  i don’t know how to change the night.  but i know that i care about you.  that you are too good to feel crazy like us.   I wish that I could sit up in your bed and keep my fingertips on your hair. tell you that i have your dreams and your fears in my chest. so shhhh… close your eyes. I’m here. go to bed. I’ve got you.

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“We only lose only what we cling to.” – author unknown

J18A0406

All scars are art, so my arms are then art history partly because my mother gave me my particular skin.

I hear myself saying, “Wear your skin with pride, even if you feel naked.”

Somewhere between thinking of romantic love and body shame, I walked past police barricades standing guard around my daughter’s Jewish school, only making me aware that we are targets.

“Even if the worst happens”, I try to reassure myself as I stare at the machine guns of the guards at the corner of school, “we will still be able to laugh after because even if You hate us, we can love ourselves.”

As a wise wo/man wrote: We only lose what we cling to.

We can lose people, we can lose life, we can lose everything but not love. There is infinite love and all rejection is an illusion and all hate, rightly or wrongly, an inversion of our love.

Love is racing through me at so many moments in the day…for some it’s driving in a fast car down the coast with music blaring, flying to earth from a plane like a bird, dancing while a little tipsy, charming a member of the same or opposite sex, doing something noble and courageous, fulfilling a duty, winning a challenge, falling in love, seeing a happy moment for a loved one on a holy day and a holiday. They might not notice but their chests are racing with love.

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Bought My One Way Ticket Out of Morocco

“Congratulations! I hope you have fun!” the ticket lady tells me on buying my one way tickets out of Morocco.

“Thank you!” I reply.

With tears in my eyes. She has no idea how hard it was to come and do this, not financially but emotionally. It’s a hot and cold relationship that is hard to get away from but I just broke up with Morocco.

I don’t want to do this, but I am forcing myself to say goodbye.

  phosdfto 2

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Purim with Joy

The elementary school’s guardian who never speaks a word to me, hollered out when I passed by: “What are you are deeply thinking about?”On hearing this, I looked up to see him smiling. I wondered what I must have looked like to prod a shy man to speak with me out of concern. I realized later down the road that this is what Alia meant when she said Morocco was filled with love. He had made me smile and I was still smiling widely blocks down the road.

In theory I understand growth often hurts but I took the day to feel grief until I wiped my eyes and went to work which is when I ran into Jacky after my batteries died from filming for hours.

He’s a religious man who won’t make physical contact with women outside his family and has a smile on his face more often than not.

I was making chit chat when he asked him casually about business and he shook his head stoically, “It’s not so great these days.”He smiled again.

I wasn’t looking for untruths but I didn’t expect the truth at the children’s Purim party.

“Are you okay with that!?” I asked in total surprise.

“We live a lot of beauty and a lot of hardship in life. We don’t see the whole picture of what lies ahead or what we must learn, but we must greet even the pain with joy.” He said.

“Are you really able to greet it with joy?” I asked somewhat in disbelief.

“It’s not easy. It’s hard for me, but I do try.” He answered.

I confessed that I had cried today.  I was embarrassed to even mention it because I don’t have three kids and a wife to take of or the obligations that he has and if he can stay zen and with joy, what’s my excuse?

“I know it’s not easy,” he said. “But you take it, whatever it is, with joy in your heart.”

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Life is imperfect and impermanent and it remains one of the most difficult things for me to comprehend.

As a kid my parents taught me to not respect material things, to be ready to pick up and move on at the drop of a hat and to be unattached to people and objects. Childhood friends? I had one, for a few months and even if I don’t know her last name or where I would ever find her again, Esther, is the best friend I ever had and the longest friend I ever got to know. I have one photo of us together and it’s my prized possession from childhood.  My mother burned the rest and I still remember suitcases filled with photos that I frantically pillaged through, rescuing as many as I could before they were destroyed.

The irony is that I now try to keep and save and preserve all that I can, be it people or memories or letters. I am sentimental for history, symbolism and objects, but probably most of all, I am sentimental for the connections I clumsily forge with people who I let (or struggle to let) into my soul.

No matter how brutal my mother was with her views, she wasn’t wrong. She was brutal because life was brutal, but she was right.

Life is imperfect and impermanent and it remains one of the most difficult things for me to comprehend. Even if we try with promises and titles and great and noble efforts, trying to hold people or a moment is like trying to hold water in ones hands.

Although we cannot hold on to anyone, sometimes who and what we love holds onto to us.

Even a memory travels as it wants in and out of consciousness anywhere in my body. It’s on vacation and returns to stick in my throat or wash out my eyes at the most inconvenient of times. Once you think it’s gone for good, a sound, a regret, a pleasure, a dream brings you back, right back in bed in Casablanca or sitting on a rooftop overlooking the city. It’s unresolved. It’s guilty and messy and dirty and beautiful and gone until it returns again without an invitation.

What do I do about that? Nothing, except accept that I don’t know what to do about that, even after all these years.

I hope I have learned somethings in the last 10 years in the lonely corners of Casablanca filled with silences and not the excitement of New York. With fire in my belly still, I say to my older and slightly wiser self, “You cannot hold on or keep or preserve or try to…this isn’t yours to keep.”

Although I won’t burn my photos I will try to do as my mother did before me and send the majority of the objects I have to the trash bins, starting with my journals. Because although they mean the world to me, they weigh me down even if they were made to preserve me…the truth is that they can’t be kept forever and I am not that girl anymore who wrote them. I am more than these things that I have collected. I am even more than what has collected me.

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