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Sasha to Max, 09.04.16
‘Shabbat Salom.’ I sometimes say that to annoy people. That’s the kind of looks I get anyway: She’s saying that to annoy me. And: What’s she getting at? Is she trying to make me feel excluded? Why’s she forcing this on me? I can see what they’re thinking. Others, meanwhile, go all shiny-eyed, hoping that the greeting is my way of telling them they’re among the chosen few. It isn’t. I’m not trying to make anyone feel left out or included. It’s just something I started saying, the same way I say, ‘Lyi geceler, birtanem.’ Then a friend pointed at my star of David and said he loved the way I wore it like a big fuck you to everyone. Can’t say I’d realised myself, but where would we be without the mirror of the outside world? Now I know what the mirror’s saying when I am me. It’s saying, Fuck you. And why not?
You say that you can tell from my letters how much I’m travelling. Now I’m in Berlin—but still a guest, I’m glad to say. Hospitality is sacred; in the Torah it comes before blood ties—is it the same with Christians and Muslims? Family comes after the duty to welcome a guest into your home and give her food and shelter. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because Lot failed to heed that simple rule. It’s strange—most people think the two cities were destroyed because of sexual perversion and sodomy (that’s where the word comes from), when in fact the reason is clearly stated: Lot refused to hand over the angels who were guests in his house.
All right, so he said, ‘Take my wife and daughter instead,’ but there are some readings of scripture that can’t be queered. Back to hospitality. Here in Germany I slam taxi drivers’ doors in their faces if they get nasty about Turkish people. I see the chess formations of dealers and police as they stake out their territory around Görlitzer Park. I see queers do an armoured cruiser walk as they approach Kottbusser Tor. I smell more fear than I used to; it smells more like New York here now, don’t you think? Only without the good food. The people could be better looking, too. But I hold out hopes that a couple of decades from now, we’ll have intermingled enough for the stereotypical German to have black curly hair.
Intermingled, not made equal.
Refusing to put up with diversity is so Europe. For two thousand years we were shut out; now they’re trying to make us equal. As if we had something in common, something equally ours. I’m not equal. Not to anyone. Not to the Christians, not to the circumcised, not to my own mother. I want to mourn and celebrate together with the living dead on my shoulders. It’s not a fuck you when I say you’re not like me. Maybe the USA are a step ahead of us in that respect; they know they’re different and they celebrate it—with and against one another.
I just celebrate, full stop. I have my own party. I go looking for allies, go to Südblock for Roma Day, where girls wave roses and clap as I dance. I cling to those roses. I eat sunflower seeds in Oranienstrasse, join the boys from Syria in my sitting room and say, ‘Shabbat Salom.’
I’m a guest there, I’m welcome. That’s enough for me. Lyi geceler.