But I Still Want The Fig Trees

I recently rediscovered a free-form poem I wrote in Hebrew class in high school, imagining my idyllic future life in Israel. Remarkably, so much of it reads as though I wrote it last week, and a lot of it also begs for revision as my dreams have, like most, evolved in my years of growth. Yet, while some parts make my eyes roll involuntarily, I try to cherish and honor that version of myself, sitting in the corner and scribbling on the back of a flyer for a mediocre college fair from the recycling bin. Below, I’ve included the poem with no revisions, with my 2017 commentary interspersed.

We’ll live on a yishuv and grow figs

I feel like a yishuv would be a little too insular; and I want pluralism and stuff.

The figs are the most consistent element here; I still have a near-romantic attachment to this one of the Seven Species native to biblical Israel.

And bake fresh breads.

Still something that seems lovely to me in theory; I think I know as much as I did in 2011 that this was an unlikely vision of my domestic life. But who knows?

Our house will exhale remnants of heartfelt experiments from The Vegetarian Epicure – wafting praises for food “as a celebration of life,” and

Still a wonderful cookbook, mainly for its idyllic vibes.

share a giant salad in a wooden bowl, a wedding present, presumably,

Yep, still a dream date night. And now I’m just making up salads in my head and drooling over arugula.

or a spontaneous find at the artists’ shuk on Bezalel,
with my family,
and white wine with my husband.

Tbh, these days I’m much more into red. v’yarok

He’ll be a gentle soul, with a vigor, a fire,
Life Experience, depth,

I still don’t totally know what this means, but it sounds good. Soulfulness is still key.

From an American family, Olim,
so he gets my neurotic American sensibilities.

Hmm…this just isn’t the image I have anymore. I still have some “neurotic sensibilities,” though I’m not sure how many are specifically “American,” or unique at all.

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But with an Israeli soul, alive

I don’t know that I’m cool with the idea that an “Israeli soul” is “alive” any more than a soul from anywhere else. I feel like I know what I meant though; and I’m also sure my hardcore Zionist [as defined by one’s loyalty to the Israeli government, and commitment to centrist/right political tropes, to the exclusion of all other Israel-invested voices…] education was seeping through here. When I wrote this, I had just seen Tal Ben-Shahar’s Israel Inside, which is definitely hasbara-ganda, but also very compelling, and was into the idea of Israel’s ~collective cultural essence~. I was in high school; I can forgive myself for being reductive then.

Courageous, idealistic,
A zealous pacifist
Who loves honey and has a soothing voice, despite a ticklish accent
That I make fun of but love dearly
(but I only admit the last part occasionally, probably induced by the white wine, tongue-in-cheek).

Well this is all very silly, but there’s something in it I still recognize. It’s funny to consider my cartoonish ideation of a marriage. It’s still very sweet.

Our kids will be named:

[list retracted]

Yeah, no. You think I’d share the list here?

And they will play barefoot by the fig trees, and I’ll try not to cringe
because they’ll be beautiful,
even with memrach shokolad [chocolate spread] on their cheeks,

This is still very sweet in my mind. Also gross, and definitely less dreamy in reality.

They’ll learn Tanakh and never say “peepee v’kaki,” because I can’t handle that.

I mean, I still want my future children to learn Tanakh; it’s hard to argue with that. I think the latter piece is more about not wanting annoying, whiny kids. I realize that describes kids, almost by definition, and therefore I might as well let that hope go.

And they’ll have ideals and dreams and dreams
and hopes and hopes of living
in a way that resonates with the books I read them:
The Little Prince
The Giving Tree
To Kill a Mockingbird,
That poem we read in Hebrew class, about the horizon
Langston Hughes
Salinger, when they reach tichon [high school]

Yes, I still want my future children to love literature. I have so many mixed feelings on The Giving Tree but I still think it’s one of the more important books in my life. But what “dreams” and “hopes” and values was I trying to get at? It seems I must have wanted storybook children. Update: not into it. This section, like much of this, felt very profound at the time.

I’ll develop an accent, like I said I never would. They’ll believe my act at Aroma, call up a large iced coffee for Smadarrrrrrrr,

My accent has really improved! I am still working on it, and I turn it on or off depending on context. It’s still kind of embarrassing, but I’m no longer staunchly anti-accent for Olim. I still use Smadar as my “Aroma name” but these days I prefer “my” coffee shops on random side streets.

Because this time, standing by the fig trees, sticky and sustained
We will all be so genuine.

I still don’t know what the hell this means, but on some level I do. Again, I laugh now at how deeply I took my own self-deemed profundity; and it reminds me to approach with some level of ease the work I do these days, because Future Liz will most likely smile upon those words endearingly but not without deprecation.

I guess I was longing for a life that felt like it fit with the version of myself I sketched in my thoughts. I still long, but I keep moving too quickly to outline and re-trace and polish off my plans. The things I want have changed perhaps in their manifestations, but mostly they have not shifted much at the core of things. I am not chained to my daydreams. But I still imagine the fig trees and I still long.