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Monica Portuguese


Photography: Omer Israeli

Following love
Monica was born in Chile, the eldest daughter of four siblings. When she was 17, her mother forbade her from meeting her best friend, Patricia, without explaining why. The relationships with other friends before and after Patricia were never forbidden. Her mother probably understood something before Monica herself did.
A short while afterwards, Monica and her family migrated to Israel and settled down in Tel aviv. Her late husband, Zion, she met through common friends from Hebrew school. Monica's mother was very fond of him, and within a year they were already married. Over the years they brought 3 girls to the world. They were married 18 years, "seventeen years too many", she says with a half-smile.
Only at age 34 she first heard the word "lesbian", when the apartment above hers was rented by two women. The couples became friends and when Zion was at work and the girls at school, Yvonne from upstairs came to help Monica with housekeeping. One day, Yvonne kissed Monica, and ever since the two had an affair. When Yvonne left the country with her partner, Monica realized she needs to get divorced. When she told her parents why, they weren't surprised.
Monica moved with the girls to Philadelphia after a different lover named Susan. Before the year ended, Monica and the girls moved back to Israel. Later, Susan returned to her life, this time as a close friend. "Everywhere I came I planted roots", she says to me during a walk with Albi the dog, as if responding to a question I didn't ask.
For the past 20 years, Monica lives in an assisted living complex in Kfar Shalem. She's single and isn't looking for anything new ("if something will fall from the sky � I won't object"), she enjoys hosting her four grandchildren, she's active at the assisted living complex she lives in and at the group "B'shela" � a group intended for women who love women over age 45, and she lovingly cares for Albi, her two-year-old dog.

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