My wonderful friend Shaun (who was also briefly my roommate – we would eat chocolate-covered almonds and watch Thirty Something in his flat on Tel Aviv’s Smuts Blvd, a place where I found refuge when refuge was the thing I needed most) is also a wonderful writer.
He’s the author of (among other things) Seven Sweet Things and Snapshots of The Boy (the wee boy with the bucket on the cover of the latter being Shaun, when he was but wee), and the founding editor of the queer literary journal Chroma, and the director of Treehouse Press (a small, independent press where they “opt for small print-runs relieving the writer of the pressure to commercially perform, giving more room to play creatively.”)
He wrote this lovely thing for The Rumpus that I love, because I love Shaun’s writing, and because it makes me feel like I’m right back there with him, young and in Tel Aviv, sweaty with the heat and the hard work and all the sex everyone was having, falling in love with a city that is still my home, for all its failings and feral cats.
Here’s the top, to give you a taste, but please click through to read the rest:
The haircut was the last thing on my list. The woman in the salon on Ben Yehuda Street is telling me about the uncle who smuggled her out of Morocco when she was five and brought her to live with relatives in Israel. At some point, she says, he was caught, interrogated, sent to prison for a couple of years. After that, he made his way to Israel with her parents, and the family was reunited again. She’s in her mid-fifties now, her hair dyed blonde, her fingers nimble with scissors and comb. It’s a Friday afternoon, that liminal time of the week in most parts of Israel, and the last day of my trip to Tel Aviv. I used to live here in the 1980s but moved to London about fifteen years ago.
“So,” she says to me, “do you like it there?”
I tell her that after all these years, I’m about ready to leave. My life can be divided into fifteen-year chunks: the first in South Africa, then Israel, now London. I tell her I’m just waiting for the right moment, the catalyst, the final straw to ease my exit. In Tel Aviv it was the same: for the last five years I lived there I dreamt of escape. In general, I’m good at beginnings, the drama of wooing and seduction, the honeymoon phase. That’s what it’s like with me and relationships; I’m not very evolved when it comes to attachment.