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The Means By Which She Found Her Way

When I turned thirteen and had my Bat Mitzvah, my mother decided that it was important for the family to visit Israel. While I savored my first experience abroad, my mother, being a culigious (culturally religious) Jew, was profoundly impressed. She beamed when we took the tramcar up to the top of Masada and delighted in every morsel of her hamburger from McDavid’s, Israel’s Kosher answer to McDonald’s.

One day, she and I wandered through the streets of Jerusalem. We wove our way through the open markets and ate over-stuffed falafel sandwiches. At the Wailing Wall, we wrote our secret prayers on small slips of paper and carefully folded them before sliding the paper between the cracks in the wall.

On the walk back to the hotel, we passed a tourist shop that sold t-shirts. I was very excited because in the window there was a pink t-shirt featuring Linus and Snoopy from "The Peanuts" comics. A thought bubble floated above their heads with Hebrew writing inside. I had to have this shirt, no matter what the characters on this shirt were thinking because it was pink, and I loved Snoopy. We went inside the store, inquiring about the pink t-shirt. The salesperson translated the Hebrew on the t-shirt: “Happiness is a warm puppy.” As soon as my mother purchased this shirt for me, I put it on over the t-shirt I was already wearing.

On our way out of the store, my mother paused in front of another t-shirt. It was pale yellow, with the prettiest cornflower blue Hebrew letters. This would be the t-shirt Martha Stewart would buy if she was to visit Israel. My mother, who never wears t-shirts, decided she needed to buy this shirt because of the beautiful, delicate Hebrew letters.

She made her purchase and decided, like me, to wear her t-shirt, too. We stepped outside into the hot sun, happy with our purchases, winding our way back to the hotel. We were laughing and having so much fun. At an intersection I took a closer look at her t-shirt and then cast my eyes downward, my cheeks hot and feeling suddenly embarrassed. My mother asked what was wrong. I blushed deeply and said nothing.

I didn’t tell her that I figured out the translation of her t-shirt. The lettering wasn’t Hebrew at all, but it was English lettering styled to look like Hebrew. It said, “Go Fuck Yourself.”

My pink t-shirt, with its faded illustration of Linus and Snoopy, is folded neatly in a box full of childhood memories in my mother’s basement. I don’t know what my mother did with her t-shirt.

 

 

group show | new zealand | waikato institute of
technology | the means by which we find our way

poster and story for design exhibition examining colloquial visual language
and how space and the meaning of words can inform design decisions.
exhibition traveling around the world including canada, great britain, and the
u.s. published in an issue of TYPO magazine and in book chronicling
exhibition.

 

 
 

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