Gay Israeli actor and blogger Netanel Azulay got engaged to his boyfriend- and was thrown back to his kindergarten days, when he made his teacher and mom upset by drawing a wedding cake with two grooms on it.
Twenty years have passed since that moment, when the kindergarten teacher asked us to draw a picture in honor of Mother’s Day. Anyone who looked at me from the side could suspect I was a little girl whose parents tried to make her look like a boy, dress like a boy and act like a boy. If you ask me, those were the best and the most innocent years of my life. I remember the smell of that period, the muddy yard games at the kindergarten. That day, all the kids sat down at the tables and the teacher distributed white paper and crayons and asked us to draw a picture in honor of Mother’s Day.
A few days earlier, I attended a wedding for the first time – my aunt, to whom I was very attached, married her fiancé. I mention this moment because it was one of the most defining moments of my life and it’s etched in my memory. My aunt got married To the famous Israeli song ‘Come Over Bride’ (sung by Noa), and I naturally joined the bridesmaids’ dance that was following her. I was the only boy. I didn’t at that time understand the puzzled glances at me, I couldn’t name them. In this sense, I was lucky, I could be who I was and express naturally the feeling I felt. I wanted a huge wedding dress just like my aunt had and wanted to be part of the crew of magical bridesmaids who threw red flowers. I wanted to be her and I didn’t feel bad about it. Indeed, the thought of me in a wedding dress made me happy.
And now back to what happened to me that day, in Aliza’s kindergarten. I drew a three-story wedding cake topped with a groom and a groom. A boy and a boy. The teacher looked at the picture and then looked at me. She walked slowly back to the drawer, put away the drawing and gave me a new page. “Draw your family, draw a house. Draw your mom and dad,” she said. I didn’t draw my mother and father, I only drew a wooden house with four walls and a red tile roof, a chimney and a tree next to it. It rested firmly on sloping ground, a thin and eternal line. I dreamed of a house like this, because I didn’t have such a house. Today, this drawing has turned into a tattoo on my left arm.
When I returned home, my mother sat me on a chair in my room. I knew something was wrong – when mom sat me down on a chair it was always a bad sign. She held the groom and groom drawing and said: “A boy with a girl and a girl with a boy. A boy with a boy is not allowed. Who taught you that?” I didn’t answer. That moment buried my dream wedding and Chuppah.
Twenty years have passed since then. Last week, my partner and I arrived at the airport on our way to my cousins in the Netherlands and that same aunt from that wedding during my kindergarten days. While we were waiting, a security officer approached us and asked for passports. He looked gravely at the passports, asked us to follow him to the side and started interrogating us. I became anxious. He asked that I opened the suitcase and began to rummage in it. Suddenly, he took out a box wrapped in red tape and asked, “Whose is this?”. My partner said: “This is mine”. The security officer opened the box aggressively while I become red and confused. I turned my head to the right and saw my partner down on one knee proposing to me with a ring he pulled out of the box. For a moment I was back at the same period of innocence and happiness in my childhood, the house tattood on the left arm and the drawing from the kindergarten. I said yes.
When I returned home, my family celebrated the good news. In my heart I set the destination marked in advance: my grandmother. Whenever I come to my grandmother’s house, she sits me down at the table, loading the plate, asking if I’m full and serves desert with the question: when will you bring me the bride? My father lies in an armchair, watching from afar with a hidden smile and silence. I finished chewing and replied, “A husband will come, grandma, not a bride”. She looks at me uncomprehendingly, walks away from the table and repeats the question in a slightly different version: “Don’t you have a girlfriend?”. I look at my father, and he calls from the living room, “Mom, it’s a new world now, a new world.”
The food that was left on the plate I could hardly put into my mouth. Words were stuck in my throat and wanted to come out. Grandma didn’t understand, not because she’s not a smart woman, but because my grandmother is from ‘the Old World,’ a completely different world than mine. She won’t understand the meaning of my words, won’t see what I wanted to show her. So like the teacher back then, she knew something else entirely. There is not even a single sophisticated navigation system in this would that can direct me to her heart. This gap breaks my heart to pieces and mixes them like a stew in a pot.
When I left, my grandmother held the door and mumbled, as usual, a prayer. I wanted to tell her again, I wanted to invite her to the wedding, but I gave up because I knew she wouldn’t be coming. She continurd and then I left and thought that whatever she mumbled does not matter, words do not matter, because I knew that in her heart she wished me happiness, even if my own way is different than hers. And the way itself is the most important, from that drawing in the kindergarten to the moment I stand under a Chuppah and marry my fiancé.