A quiet, contemplative morning in Gaza
As I step into this new phase, identity, and career as a writer, I have been hyper-focused on tuning into my energy: understanding when and why it ebbs and flows. It’s new (and somewhat daunting) terrain for me to determine a routine that exists outside the bounds of something like a 9-5 job, while also figuring out freelancing as a way to sustain myself monetarily. At the same time, it’s liberating to think this all through and learn how to align with my true nature. Being a writer is a juggling act of holding time, space, and energy to shepherd art into the world alongside the practical need to take on income-generating gigs (alongside everything else entailed by adulting in this world). While working on getting my sea legs out here, I lean into gratitude as my fuel. Gratitude for the space, support, security, and courage to experiment with a new way of being.
I’ve been thinking about how this newsletter fits into my creative routine moving forward. It’s been a few months since I’ve gotten this thing off the ground. I’ve loved cultivating a community of readers, while learning to find more ease in the vulnerability of sharing. These little musings have sparked unexpected connections that bring light into my life. This newsletter keeps writing from becoming a lonely endeavor. I hope that it’s been adding value to your life and our world, as well.
Writing this newsletter is also something that takes time and energy to create. It’s something I’d love to continue prioritizing as my journey unfolds. So, after subduing an intense flare-up of my chronic imposter syndrome, I’ve added the option to become a paid subscriber for $5/month as a way to help me keep newsletter writing a regular part of my creative practice. There is no obligation to pay in order to access my posts - all the writing I share here will always be available for free. I’ve merely created an option for reciprocity. If you find value in my work and feel called to materially support me as a writer, you can act on that calling by becoming a paid subscriber. However you decide to show up as my reader, paid or unpaid, I’m grateful to have you with me.
Today, I’m sharing my first work of fiction and first literary publication. It’s a short story called “Tessellation,” and it takes place on a quiet, contemplative morning in Gaza in the company of a young woman named Zein. I wrote the first draft of this piece nearly two years ago, while I was still living in Palestine. It was wintertime, rainy and cold. I was down with COVID and was being shunned by not only my housemate, but also my sense of taste and smell. I spent my days of isolation alternating between long naps and dreaming up this story, curled up next to a space heater that looks a lot like R2D2.
It’s wild to re-read this story in this current iteration of me. It’s like listening to an audio recording of my voice, and being like, “That’s what I sound like??” Part of me cringes at the unpolished emotionality of the piece. A bigger part of me is proud of my past self for seeing this story through. It feels like a snapshot of who I was as a writer at a particularly poignant time in my life. It’s magical to bear witness to the self, and to the mysterious trajectory of creative growth. I’m grateful to have an artifact that embodies how deeply I noticed Palestine while I was in the thick of it.
In many ways, this piece taught me how to write. How to transmute the depths of empathy into words. How to: show up for the labor of drafting, solicit feedback, grow from the discomfort of criticism, and allow myself to accept praise. I also learned firsthand that writing can be a portal through which to re-visit, re-observe, and re-process places, people, and eras. When I write, I time travel.
I hope you experience this story as a way to bear witness to Gaza. To become immersed in the humor, the devastation, the love, the brutality, the secrets, the salty-breezy-incessant-honking-jasmine-scented-cardamom-steeped-mornings of a place that became my home away from home. It’s in Gaza’s multitudes that I find hope for its liberation. It’s in its people, people like Zein, that I see resistance embodied.
Because I’m intrigued by mixed media in storytelling, here is a song pairing. I hear this song whenever I re-visit this piece, probably because I had it on loop during my COVID-fueled, foggy-brained writing sessions. If literature had end credit reels, this is the song my story would fade to black on. I dare you to indulge my vision.
This story is for those who are in prisons within prisons (within prisons within prisons…). May you be seen, may you be liberated. Within our lifetime. 🤲🏽
liminal fuzz 🥀 is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.