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Tzipora, the Princess of the Earth

Monday, Feb 17, 2020

Editor’s note — it’s getting close to 4 a.m. and I’m not sure I can even remember why I wrote this post. Everything is a fog. Expect revisions and possibly major changes in the morning.

Pictured above is Tzipora Desmoisnes, the Princess of the Earth and one of the most interesting persons of the last century. She has made good use of her 126 years on Earth (and counting), and a few samples have been chosen for your viewing pleasure. Conveniently, captions have been attached to briefly describe a few choice (but not comprehensive) depictions of her life.

2 Years Old / 2049

An infant Tzipora arrives in a country she would remember as her homeland. Knowing the tumultuousness of her childhood from here on, it is sobering seeing the round baby’s face staring back, red-faced and full-cheeked. Her mother, Mette Sumoisnesn from Vekllei, is a bohemian political scholar and radical looking to start fresh in South America after several life events leave her dissatisfied with life in Vekllei. With her savings secured, they move into a wealthy neighbourhood called Modelia, in Bogota.

5 Years Old / 2052

At five, Tzipora speaks Spanish natively and only a handful of Vekllei phrases like many immigrant children. A naturally lithe and timid girl, she won’t make friends at school until her second year. In many ways, she is already becoming a picture of opposites from her mother; where Mette is a postmodern lady of wide social interest, Tzipora is conservatively inward-facing. She has, however, already inherited Mette’s disarming honesty and decisive mindset.

7 Years Old /2054

As Mette kept irregular hours and a laissez faire attitude towards parenting, Tzipora is already fairly independent for her age. Although hardly the only child to maintain a household in Bogotá, she is certainly unique in her social class. Mette’s Vekllei-sourced wealth goes a long way in Colombia, but her bohemian lifestyle and liberal social instincts lend to a world of contradictions and colourful schisms that leave Tzipora caught between worlds — that of the poor, artistic, and revolutionary as well as the wealthy, polite and domestic. Even at this age, Tzipora already showcases several of these contrasts in her malleable personality, which are as charming as they are awkward. Although her relationship with Mette is untraditional for a single mother and daughter, it is affectionate and Tzipora is happy in Modelia.

10 Years Old / 2057

It’s 2057. President Cifuentes has been dead for six months, the communists are in power in Bogotá, and Mette has depleted ten years of Colombian wages to shelter Tzipora in a Catholic boarding school in the U.S. to keep her safe from an imminent American invasion.

She now wears the uniform of St Mary’s Catholic College in Sacramento, California. She’s cut her hair in keeping with the American fashions and has lost some weight as she diets for what the other girls in her dorm call a “Coca Cola body”. On Tzipora’s small, girlish frame, her thinness looks pitiful and achingly neglected, not attractive. She is an Inuk-Scandinavian girl with Jewish European ancestry who knows only the language and culture of a wealthy Latina. Compounded with her little eccentricities and timidity, she does not fit in well at school.

14 Years Old / 2061

A lot can happen in four years. There was an atomic bomb in Cairo, and the Federal Government has lost control of the so-called Dallas States. Mette has stopped responding to letters and Tzipora’s out of money. She makes plans to move in with her male mathematics teacher, who predated on her near-idiotic numeracy weaknesses to foster an illicit relationship, but abandons that idea when she discovers he has been grooming multiple other girls.

She takes the California Zephyr to Utah instead of San Francisco on advice of a trusted priest, and quickly finds herself indigent and starving. Clothed by a charity in filthy artefacts of the previous decade, she lives in a women’s shelter that has too little to go around. There’s not even work as a strikebreaker anymore, since sporadic fighting in Southwest Utah has moved or shuttered all business that isn’t literally burrowed into the surrounding desert.

16 Years Old / 2063

She’s aware by now, and has been since her school days, that she has some sort of nutritional deficiency or hormone imbalance impeding her puberty. As a good Catholic girl of the faith, she does not understand anything about puberty, but it doesn’t take a doctor to figure out she looks half the age of the teen-agers in the shelter.

She has miraculously managed to find work as a maid at a nearby motel, and has money for little luxuries that now mean the world to her. Clean underwear, some sneakers that are good for day work, and a steady stream of penny dreadfuls from the local bookshop, operated by the mysterious “Baron”. She lives in a so-called “Women’s House” that starts attracting attention as the turbulent political climate in the Dallas States continues to destabilise.

18 Years Old / 2065

Tzipora celebrates her eighteenth birthday as a student at Lola 6th School in Vekllei. She is overwhelmed with affection for the country and her new father, Baron, but is struggling to reconcile her natural inadequacies as a new immigrant with her expectations of success in a country that offers her so much. Life is busy, and is full of new things that send her reeling with excitement — friends, music, and good food are just a few. At once younger and older than her years, Tzipora’s independence and stubborn affection make raising her easy for first-time dad Baron, who never intended to have children, let alone start with a teen-ager.

32 Years Old / 2079

Suffering from a severe bout of seasonal depression and a deep sense of listlessness after graduating from university, Tzipora’s long-neglected existential epistemology breaks open all at once. Now a librarian in the Lola central library, she watches Baron get older and wonders about ending her life once he passes. She drowns her panic in her work, working days at a time cataloguing stock at the library while also editing the underground ‘zine Kid Comix. The sardonic nihilism of the underground Comix community is her only comfort as she considers her future and the place in the world.

86 Years Old / 2133

Although Tzipora always evolved slowly, by 86 Tzipora’s turbulent youth is well behind her. Her little insecurities and aching sense of inferiority have blossomed into a gentle sense of humour and easygoing disposition common in old ladies. Does Tzipora qualify as one? By the numbers, certainly. But ask anyone in Montre-Lola, the village she’s lived in since moving there over fifty years earlier, and they’ll tell you that she retains a teen-age vitality and curiosity in her that should have been dissipated long ago. Physically, she is, of course, unchanging — and her spastic tics are as present as ever. Montre-Lola may change, and Tzipora may watch generations cycle through, but she is apparently timeless.

126 Years Old / 2173

Much older, and a little wiser, Tzipora has had decades to reconcile her extended stay on Earth with the seeming immortality of the Vekllei cultural landscape. She still lives in Montre-Lola as a maternal root of the community, and resides in the little house built for her by the town over eighty years ago. For Tzipora, her sense of time has slowed to a crawl. A creature of routine, life around her goes on despite it all — the atomic war, the rebuilding, the stresses of a post-war world. A lot of her life is boring. She doesn’t mind. She finds great pleasure in the mundane, and her body is young and healthy. There are always reasons to live, and not just for the people in her life — after all, novels continue to be written and her plants need to be watered. Absorbed in her pleasant little life, it barely occurs to her that next year she will become the oldest living human being in history.