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Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem
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That awkward moment when I stopped feeling American

On that awkward moment when she stopped being American

So last night, while listening to Johnny Cash and sipping on my second double shot of whiskey neat at the kibbutz pub I tried to convince my friend that we should totally hit up Facebook to crowdsource a good tattoo parlor nearby so I could get a mermaid drawn in that little dip where my neck meets my back.

“Ok… but why a mermaid?” my friend asked.

“Because I am a mermaid,” I answered, and with the sagacious clarity of one whose first double shot of whiskey is already mellowing in that space just below the heart, and as God and Johnny Cash as my witness, I put that feeling into words for the first time.

All immigrants are like these denizens of the sea – mermaid, merman, whatever: We’re stranded between two worlds, our tongues traded in for a new identity that will never quite fit, where we want to belong to both worlds, but can’t fit into either no matter how hard we bend and stretch ourselves into skins.

 

(Don't worry, Dad. I didn't get the tattoo.)
(Don’t worry, Dad. I didn’t get the tattoo.)

And yes, I like that dual-identity – and the ability to be both, sometimes at the same time, to feel that connection and sense of belonging in both worlds, here and there.

But this morning when I woke up waaaaaayyyyy too early, sludged with mascara, and wearing the smells from the night before, not only did I wake up to a really bad hangover, but to a new reality that jolted me out of the morning-after stupor: Somehow, while all of us in Israel were sleeping, the US and Iran signed an agreement and my shimmering scales were traded for legs.

It’s complicated: With me, it always is… But while we were sleeping, the world made a choice that left me feeling like I have no choice: And now, I can never go back.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer is the author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel. She was raised in Venice Beach, California on Yiddish lullabies and Civil Rights anthems, and she now lives in Jerusalem with her 3 kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors, talks to strangers, and writes stories about people — especially taxi drivers. Sarah also speaks before audiences left, right, and center through the Jewish Speakers Bureau, asking them to wrestle with important questions while celebrating their willingness to do so. She loves whisky and tacos and chocolate chip cookies and old maps and foreign coins and discovering new ideas from different perspectives. Sarah is a work in progress.
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