if it were just a sweater.
There's a sweater I'm in search of. I'm in search of a sweater that feels a certain way, looks a certain way, and makes me be a certain way.
Preferably white, but realistically maybe a dusty white, a darker white, a shade that you wouldn't wear on your wedding day but, in a certain light, could still make you feel a purity of peace and hope radiating off your body.
Wool. It has to be wool. I need this sweater to be cold-proof, wind-proof, fire-proof, bullet-proof. I need this sweater to last my years and be passed down as a coherent garment, not a spool of holes and threads (although, I'm not against such holes, and I expect a couple to materialize over the years to grow some character on this thing, to prove its heritage and its stories and its struggle to continue to exist when questioned of its historical validity. I need this sweater to continue to be.)
I'd like the sleeves to be long. I'd like them long enough to cover the arms, the wrists, the knuckles, the fists. It'd be nice if the sleeves could wrap over my hands when they feel too exposed to the outside air. I'd like my hands to be safe when they raise themselves up to the sky and mimic the prayer she memorized as a phonetics exercise in the tongue she ought to have known (and the body rolls up her sleeves and exposes the olive-stained heart on her skin.)
I tried to look into it the other day; I opened up Google Chrome on my MacBook Pro in the Canadian English language (the Arabic keyboard is only installed on my phone, equally interchangeable with the Emoji language). I looked through my usual suspects when it comes to fashion exploits: Aritzia, Everlane, COS, Urban Outfitters, Zara, etc. I found things, but nothing quite right: too big, too cheap, too ornate, or too basic. I'm looking for something that can hold me when I need the warmth, something that can show me how life goes, something that can teach me how the world still turns when life and death are two sides of a coin flipped casually.
I know! I'm not sure why I didn't think of it before. They must still exist, they must for there were many sweaters made for the 8 kids— at least 8 sweaters. And they're definitely wool, for Teta needed a material that would hold when passed down from brother to brother, and a material that was worth spending the organist's income on. I think Sido must have had his own, too, and perhaps a couple of them: a good one for mass, a nice one for special mass, and a fine one for everyday living (although I'd guess the latter was in the best condition considering his everyday living was church itself.)
In any case, I must talk to my uncles. I must ask them if they still have a sweater of theirs that she knit: "Is it white? Is it wool? Is it intact? Is it sentimental?" I need it to be all this, of course, for it should carry enough weight that my shoulders have a reason for feeling the way they feel now.
I open another tab beside Aritzia's "Fall Essentials" and Everlane's "Cozy Favourites" to look at the friendly flattened earth on Google Maps. Considering the season that we are in, I should check in with my uncle furthest away from the breeze. I don't think San Francisco should be too cold right now and his news might be delayed by the omnipresent embargo of fact. I could check in with Paris, or Abu Dhabi, or Toronto, or Montreal. The diaspora makes it difficult to track down what I need. But perhaps, even if I were to find them, they wouldn't want to speak of it much, you know, considering the sentimentality and all. It's too much to ask for in a sweater.
My last choice is asking Baba (b. '57) for I recall his story of when he was 10 years old. The story involves people coming to the house, and Teta not giving them 1 of the 8 kids for he was too young to be considered a Him, and Baba was young enough to watch, and like a lamb — as I imagine when he tells us this story — , and like a lamb in his wool sweater, I gave the people the benefit of the doubt that they took the Hims to the field to wait like sheep for 6 days. I want to ask my Baba if he still has that same wool sweater for that might be just what I need, but no I don't think that would be possible for this took place in June and Jerusalem shouldn't get that cold in June.
What I need is a sweater, the sweater, that I have always believed would give me something like a purpose, a history, or a belonging. I would like it to fit in the way I should have, and speak in the tongue I should have, and live in the way my friends speak of when they mention their house on so-and-so Drive in so-and-so place in so-and-so country with zip code 12345 where their father, their grandfather, and their dog were born and the house has been passed down through generations of the same family, the tree the same apricot they threw when out playing, the bell the same ring when cousins would come knocking, the room the same hue (perhaps with some yellowing) of their memories that did actually happen to them, the attic at the same capacity of overflowing overlooking the garden that Teta mended all my life and Mama's life, the one that we'd run through yelling in our accented English surprised to find snowbar and lizards crawling over dusty toes and dripping maillots and we ate our bateekh and threw the rinds over the walls that my dad would walk through and we'd run to the living room and he'd sit us all down to hear the new tales of his journey that always involved the words: taxi to the border, identification card, questioning, many-hours delay, stamp, walking down memory lane, long-gone neighbours, the organ, and his way back.
He ends the story holding out his identification card with its additional fresh blue stamp to show us his smile that has accomplished a duty of heritage that expires every three years— but in this story, I am 10 years old and I fail to grasp the meaning of the event, and look at his sweater instead.
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