This is a lyric essay dear to my heart and a deeply personal piece that was recently published in the online literary journal Identity Theory. It was the first lyric essay I wrote under Professor Marcela Sulak’s tutelage, inspired by The Balloonists, by Eula Biss. (I recently found out that she had been published in the same journal which doubles the honor! By the way, I also love her book Notes from No Man’s Land. You should definitely check it out.)
I’m grateful for the existence of this non sequitur genre that was the first language that allowed me to fully articulate what is difficult to express, to Marcela for revealing the gorgeous world of hybrid literature to me, and to my dearest Geula– the best type of friend a writer could have– for the feedback that helped me polish it. It feels like a second birth seeing it out in the world.
Here is a clip from the piece:
I left home before graduation and moved in with him when I was seventeen. My mother called the police and said he was “harboring a minor.” The police car picked me up at his apartment to take me home. I went back the next day. She also took my passport. I reported it as stolen, and he bought me a new one. We went to the courthouse on my 18th birthday and signed the marriage certificate. A month later, we were on a plane to Israel.
The first compasses did not always point north. Early compasses pointed east.
Mother: “You need to ask yourself, why did you decide to marry him, and go to a foreign country with him? Why have you stayed together this long? Do any or all of these reasons still exist? Whatever you have done or not done, or whatever he has done or not done, is it forgivable? Can you move on and stay together?”
Compassare, from Vulgar Latin, “to pass or step together.”
I left him when I was 25—when I met Sasha.
Elisheva: “Some of the things you say sound eerily familiar. I tell you when a man or woman does not feel satisfied it takes on a life of its own. I’m glad about the way he has made you feel. Every woman wants to feel lost in love (or lust) as you are.”
It has a magnetized pointer free to align itself with Earth’s magnetic field.
Mother: “I know this may sound strange to you, but somehow I feel that I am to blame for your present situation. Maybe if I had been a better parent, or maybe if I did not give you money to go out, you would not have met or become involved with this guy.”