KR OnlineFictionTranslation

Relocation; Rift; Party

Translated from Hebrew by Shoshana Akabas

Relocation

A man wanted to meet me before he relocated from Israel to Texas. He thought I could potentially be his spouse and leave everything and move away with him, all because he was going to work somewhere in Texas and fulfill his lifelong dreams. I don’t have a problem with fulfilling lifelong dreams, but this man didn’t know me, and I wasn’t about to move to Texas with him.

I’m all for dreams—I dream a lot—but his were too one-sided.

In the ad, he wrote:

Smooth-naped man with a big smile, interested in meeting a woman for relocation.

And me, why did I answer? I don’t even know. I called as if inquiring for a friend, but it was really for myself. I was interested in where he was going—if he was moving up north to Haifa or just to some kibbutz right outside the city—but he was talking about a real relocation. He was in the seamanship business. One of those people who has a lot, cracks his way into the industry, because suddenly one thing has led to another and they have a new penthouse apartment and a jeep and a fixed salary without moving a finger, because that’s how it is when the whole industry works for you.

His ad was infuriating because it didn’t say a single thing about him, except the big move he was planning. I wonder: what kind of girl did he think he was going to meet that way?

Two days after I called, he took down the ad. I guess he was confronted or attacked and didn’t know how to deal with it. He innocently thought that it was a legitimate ad for meeting someone, but there were so many things he failed to understand, and I don’t know why I called him in the first place. Stupid. Stupid sometimes, and naïve, just like him.

 

Rift

There are days of unfathomable sadness, like a gaping rift in my heart just right of center, which reminds me of the infinite loneliness seeping in, and the futility in everything, and the unending war, and the prevailing suffering in the world. Days in which I want to erase my existence, and the only thing standing in my way is the twelve diaries I’d leave behind as evidence. Today, actually, is not that kind of day; today is an ice-cream day.

I think about my daughters, the daughters I still do not have, and how I will raise them in such grief, how I will stroke their hair and say, “Today Mommy’s not feeling well again, go eat some rice pudding.” In my imagination, I’m more fulfilled, more motherly: I’ve even cooked the rice in milk, and it’s different from the unsettling bottles of milk that Sylvia Plath left for her children, and the damn cookies. I believe, all in all, that I can function just fine, and when I have daughters maybe I’ll manage to summon more strength.

You might ask: Who’s the lucky guy who will be enlisted to father these girls—how do I picture him? Very quickly, I enter a world of fantasies, a single-family home with a dog and cat that don’t fight and children who outwardly appear a little unkempt but are not lacking devotion; the girl wears a white cotton dress, something very soft and soothing. Maybe the father is at work, maybe he’s a farmer. Yet, at this moment, there is no one more present than I am, I can wake from all these delusions, Good morning.

Sometimes I imagine myself to be so optimistic—far more optimistic and relaxed than I actually am.

In reality, I am affected by every little thing, and I take everything to heart, and I certainly don’t wear cotton clothes, but a viscose-Lycra blend—flexible fabrics that don’t breathe. And I let myself down; I tell myself repeatedly: you’re not capable. Once, I met a man who told me how he pats himself on the back by saying encouraging words, “You are a man, you are a man’s-man!” and how he mans up and groans like an animal. But I’m not like that; excellence isn’t a value that exists in me.

It existed once. But then became entangled and worn down. I have no drive in me, and this is what sometimes makes me feel a little different, like I don’t have the fuel that motivates people to do and act and live, and, in some cases, it comes down to the cellular level, when I don’t even have the motivation to get up and make myself a sandwich or heat a Stouffers for a minute and twenty seconds in the microwave.

I never met that man’s man again—a little drool leaked from between his lips when he spoke, and I, ever critical, didn’t see myself attracted to him. It’s a terrible thing to say, because I also leak sometimes—not from my lips, but from my soul—and if someone were to write me off because of this, he would immediately be labeled an insensitive jerk, right?

 

Party

Thursday, a week from today, at 8 p.m.: a Lost Items Return Party. Arak and mini-sandwiches will be served. Where: my house. Why: you’re invited to get rid of all the things I’ve forgotten or left with you over the years. You’ll also have a chance to get back what you left with me.

Peter, you’re responsible for bringing back my black stockings and burgundy lace bra (my first lace bra). Amir #1—I have two 188th Lightning Brigade shirts from your army days to return, as well as the kitchen apron I made and promised to give you as a present years ago. In return, I’m asking once again for that green carpet fabric you bought for me in Haifa, not realizing that it was so thick it wouldn’t even fit into my sewing machine. S.—I still have your letters from the school trip. You have a few of my Beatles albums. One of them is rare. Return it, please.

Amir #2—I’m pretty sure I left my Dafna clogs with you after we split. They used to inspire me, and when I wore them, I was able to cook and clean and do the things that normal people do. They’re definitely in the lower right-hand drawer of your blue dresser, the one that’s difficult to open, so it just rests on the floor. I’ve had so many dreams about that apartment. Too many.

Ethan, please return the hyrax shirt (preferably washed), and the David Foster Wallace book, The Girl With Curious Hair. Oh, and Amir #2, please do a thorough search, because I’m pretty sure that Kites—my favorite book for years, when I was certain you and I were Ludo and Lila—is still in your possession, even though you’ll probably deny it. But I don’t have it. Tomer, I left a bunch of rubber bands and a Carolina Herrera perfume bottle with you. You can keep “Requiem for Tel Aviv”; that was a gift.

This party will be a chance for all of you to meet each other, exchange notes on how I am in bed—except, sorry S., I’m sure that something wonderful would have happened between us if I hadn’t been in seventh grade and too embarrassed to even hold hands—oh, and of course: help me make space for someone new.