Essay # 3: The Art of Leaving, by Ayelet Tsabari

Yes, self did finally make it out of the thicket of Classic Fantasy and into a new book, a memoir in essays by Ayelet Tsabari. It’s not part of any book list: she just happened to hear a friend praise it to high heaven, so she added it to her reading list a couple of months ago. She was a little underwhelmed by the first essay (grief over losing a dad, when very young). Self wondered if this was going to be the anchor of the entire book. But there were flashes of Tel Aviv in there, and frankly self has always been fascinated by Tel Aviv, a city she’s been to only once, ages ago. Dearest Mum had a friend who was a pianist and he let us stay in his flat while dearest Ying was in the hospital there, dying of Stage IV leukemia.

The people self saw around her (on Ruppin Street) were the biggest Jews she had ever seen. Self says this facetiously. She has Jewish friends but they are not big. In Tel Aviv, not only were the people big, they were completely bronzed, like the models in ads for Italian fashion. And the beach was walkable, and it was white sand, and if she didn’t always pass the American Embassy looking like a fortress, with two implacable marines standing at attention outside, facing the sea, she would have thought she was on the Cote d’Azur.

Essay # 1 ended with a memory of the author being mean. Which raised self’s hopes, because that was a surprise, and that meant there would be other surprises in store.

Self liked Essay # 2, and now she is in Essay # 3, which is about the military service every Israeli citizen is required to perform, right after high school. She’s always been intensely curious about this experience. She forgot it was TWO YEARS. Wow, if someone had told self when she was growing up that she would have to lose two years of her youth to being at one with a rifle, she might have tried to run away or something.

Tsabari begins Essay # 3 when she’s served seven months. That means 17 more months of this routine:

  • We tumbled out of our beds at four o’clock every morning to days filled with repetitive drills and grueling duties: we scrubbed bathrooms, scoured the base’s grounds, washed mountains of dishes, and guarded the base at night. During the day, we ran.

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

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