The studio door opens. You enter, say Shalom, sorry, so sorry, traffic. You point to your champagne-colored hijab, asking if it’s okay to change. I multi-move: guide the group into Downward Facing Dog and show you the bathroom. When you emerge, I’m dazed by looping, licorice-colored hair, Maybelline-proof eyelashes, silken blouse tucked into flowy pants. My regulars—American, British, South African, Brazilian, Turkish—dress in anything-goes like t-shirts, tank tops, and leggings. They’re not all Jewish. I’m accustomed to accents, to other. Still, you stand out—the only Muslim. When you’d called to inquire about class, making sure it was women only, and told me you live in Jaljulia, a neighboring Israeli-Arab town known for its hummus and car mechanics and massive new mosque, I didn’t think you’d come. In miles, it’s close; in culture, another world. Now, here, you scan the room, lift your lower body, breathe loudly. I see your legs shake. Is this right? you ask in a sweet syrupy voice. I nod, smile, encourage. As everyone releases into Child’s pose, folding into themselves like snails, you catch my eye and whisper, Hard, but beautiful. A friendly titter fills the room. Your words crack my heart open. A mirror for where we live. Hard, but beautiful.
Jennifer Lang’s shorts have appeared in the Maine Review, Atticus Review, CHEAP POP, Miracle Monocle, Pithead Chapel, Gravel, and Brevity One-Minute Memoir. “Repeat the Enchanting” won first place in Midway Journal’s flash contest 2020. A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and serves as Assistant Editor for Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction. Born in the San Francisco Bay Area, she lives in Tel Aviv, where she runs Israel Writers Studio and attempts to write her first memoir.