Psalm XOXO: Comfort for my Heartache

Though it’s old, Psalm XOXO is one of my favourite pieces, a video to which I still refer people who don’t know my work, especially since it’s so short and doesn’t require a time commitment.

It is, on the surface, my spoken address to a male object of desire. Each few sentences are recorded in a different location in Jerusalem. I discuss my concerns that the love object might see me as just another tourist or religious seminary student, passing through his city with hopes of landing a handsome Israeli husband. As a Jew trying to grow in my observance, I also try to dispel what I fear is his impression of me as a yeshiva-girl type who is completely fulfilled by her religious life in youthful Jerusalem. That may have been true, but not since I met him. He, as a musician, is always creating, and he’s reminded me of my own drive to create.

When I dreamed up this work- and it did come to me as a finished idea during a long bus ride from the south of Israel, I had been in a relationship with a musician who struck me, at first sight, as the most beautiful man I had ever seen. Our brief courtship consisted mostly of me sitting in his room and listening to him play the oud. I didn’t feel it was a terribly balanced relationship, but he and his music were so beautiful, I accepted it on any terms.

My feeling was unrequited. This was clear enough that I already had premonitions of the end during that bus ride. Feeling the impossibility of attaining what I so wanted, I tried to direct my thoughts toward the one source of unconditional love out there: God (whether he’s imagined or real). I knew that the only guarantee of my happiness was in my relationship with Him. But since this divine inspiration came from an earthly source, I felt the two types of yearning- romantic and spiritual- must be linked. And so, the idea settled on me: a prayer to God veiled as an appeal to a love object.

When I arrived at my destination, I got a call from the object of desire. He had been thinking and… you can imagine the rest.

I was disappointed but not devastated. Besides anticipating this beforehand, I had been compensated with a gift that far outweighed what I had lost.

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