An Identity Like Honey
By Sarah Kadous
Shot by Stephanie Severance
I am the daughter of Nefertiti blooming in the land of milk and honey. Sometimes, I cannot tell whether my American identity is impregnated with my Egyptian heritage, or if my Egyptian roots are impregnated with my American culture. It feels as though my blood was split between two souls, and I am tasked with discovering how they resonate with each other, and then marrying them. And this marriage – similar to my parents’ – is of love, but requires a deep understanding.
“It feels as though my blood was split
between two souls, and I am tasked
with discovering how they resonate with
each other, and then marrying them.”
The city that birthed me does not feel like my mother, but rather a close aunt.
She has always been there, but I cannot say that our relationship is maternal. She takes me out for brunch, but does not pack my lunches. She pays for my haircuts, but my toddler head never felt her hands detangling my curls. Nonetheless, the pith of her body holds the most warm of coffee shops, and her waters, though they bring me fear, are bluer than my hands when the cold overcomes me.
The summers I spend in Egypt do not feel like home. I feel no connection to the city that sleeps at the hour I awake, a city that steeps its air in the scent of hookah. Anger plagues my body when someone points out my poor accent and inability to pronounce my mother’s tongue, and the native oriental dishes only interfere with my Hollywood-inspired pescetarian diet. However, when I spend nights speaking to my grandmother, sipping a special kind of tea that I cannot find in the Vons near my house, while watching Arabic soap operas over the sound of cars in the streets, I feel at home.
“My father’s tongue explains calculus in
Arabic, but we get so carried away discussing
American politics that the numbers
before me dance of off the paper.”
My father’s tongue explains calculus in Arabic, but we get so carried away discussing American politics that the numbers before me dance of off the paper. My identity is not confusing, but I am not sure that it belongs anywhere other than within me. Packaging and labeling myself into something society can digest is too difficult. I take pride in the intersecting bricks that built me and refuse to simplify any part of who I am. When my line of lineage proposed to the golden soil, I was born as two, expressed through one.