“She’s Slightly Strange”, She Said.

“I used to think anyone doing anything weird was weird.

Now I know that it is the people who

call others weird that are weird.”

[Paul McCartney]

Enter my mind. Dim lights. Open Curtain:

A monday mid afternoon. Closer to four than to three. In a fading grey light. Not an unfriendly, threatening grey. Rather a grey, that can’t be bothered with being anything apart from being. A grey, that wakes up in the morning and says to itself “I’ll be a blank page.”

An italian restaurant on a busy shopping street. Little bistro tables clinging to the old brick wall. The wall’s earthy red fat and satisfied. Swollen with the passing years it has swallowed. Too much, too fast. A greedy, though not unfriendly, dark red brick wall.

The tables don’t mind. But than again, they wouldn’t mind anything keeping them from falling. Their placement on the dark charcoal pavement, with all its lumps and gasps, doesn’t allow for a secure footing on their sturdy metal feet. So they embrace the wall, who in turn leans in onto them.

Tiny bistro chairs. All huddled together in a corner. Each trying to hide behind the other. Each trying to evade the energetic breeze, that in its delusionment, believes to be a wind. As the wind it believes itself to be, it tries its voice at a vibrant roar, much like a child trying to converse with the lion at the zoo. Whereas the lion has no sufferance for little children and goes back to counting paces behind iron bars, the old oak branches in the trees above stifel a chuckle.

Passerby’s shuffling the sounds with their leather soles. Filling the void left in between honking cars and opening doors, gracefully, with a deeper bass of activity. At times, some voices may find their own frequency in disturbance of this subtle rhythm, but since there is no purpose to this disturbance, the setting decides to overlook the rude interruption of its being.

Afterall, it is occupied with its own excitement.

Centre Stage, just slightly to the left. Enter two young women. Not young enough to be blissfully unaware of the ever ticking ticks and tocks of time, but young enough to still believe they have endless of them left to hear.

As they settle at a table, one of them drops her scarf. I know this without looking. It’s one of the things she does. Almost like a tribute to the ground, she is about to rest her steadied feet on.

The scarf, which is not light and airy, but firm and honest wool, honoring the rules of gravity, drops where her fingers disconnect with it. It cuddles together in a comfortable heap. Knowing it will remain there, until she parts from this place, swooping it up from the ground once more and slinging it around her pale, frail neck in one fluid motion. Thus it can practice the art of patience peacefully and quietly, in unspoken affirmation, that it won’t be left behind until the first crocus break through the dried skin and emerge like golden rays between a grassy green heavens.

The two attend to their coffees reverently. One lump of sugar? Maybe two? Just a drop of milk. And then the stirring commences and doesn’t falter, until the creamy liquid in the cups will turn without their assistance. Swirling around despite itself. Chilled hands clutch the cups. Letting the warmth seep through the china and enter them through their fingertips.

Red lips turn upward placed vis-a-vis from each other. Automatically. Unisono. Then one of the pairs may open and politely inquire in regards to suitable, expected matters. To which the other will reply with an equally apparent perfect pronunciation. They don’t know each other well enough, nor do they feel comfortable enough with each other, to swallow a vowel or good forbid omit a word.

Time passes, through the streets. Through the bustle and the noise. Through the quiet and the darkening.

It may stop shortly to greet the oak for they have known each other for more than a second, but not too long. Passing time is like a shark. It can only exist in motion.

The gray, tiring of its paleness and feeling overlooked, claims more attention through the application of a darker shade around its rim. It smushes it a bit. Blends it in. Artistically.

Moving eyes set in moving heads on moving figures change their movement upwards in recognition of a slight change in pattern. The light falls darker on the charcoal pavement. The grey, having thus received its desired reverence, contents itself once more with fading, lazily, into the background.

Two luckless bistro chairs carry on carrying two women faithfully. If it weren’t for them, they could be huddled up with the rest. Comfortably boring themselves to sleep. One of the trembles slightly. The years have made him less tolerant to the cold.

This goes unnoticed by the two occupants, which are forced to direct their concentration exclusively on one other. Otherwise the treasured custom of politeness could crumble, revealing

– faint boredom. This is a womans sense of duty.

So after the exchange of the required amount of syllables, both instinctively twitch their bodies homewards. Swiftly kisses are breathed on stone cheeks. Greetings exchanged strung together with faux promises.

And here it ends. Here it could end. If not one suddenly halteres her step and turns. The other feeling the ripple, mirrors her movement.

“Dear, I’m sorry. I ment to ask you. Are you still in touch with her?”

“Yes, I am. I’m seeing her tomorrow, actually.”

(A question lingering won’t come to life, because the other smiles. Dark dimples in her cheeks. You could hide the world inside of them and never find it again, if she so wished.)

“Really? I’ve always found her to be slightly strange.”

And then she turns, calling out regrets over her shoulder – ah the limitation of time! – to the other one still standing. Staring. Stuttering thoughts inside of her.

Swiftly, carelessly, the dimpled she flings her airy silk scarf around her pearl covered throat

(for this delicate throat cares not for the earthiness of wool),

– taking me with her in her dimples.

[ “Dumb”  –  Nirvana (In Utero) ]

9 Of 365 (366) For 2012

[All credit to Kathelijne2, whose lovely picture can be found here]

“Now the sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song,

namely their silence…

… someone might have escaped from their singing; but from their silence,

certainly never.”

[ Franz Kafka ]

Broken Time Machine

“We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they’re called memories. Some take us forward, they’re called dreams.”

[Jeremy Irons]

Growing up I realized a very peculiar thing and if you are a motherless daughter, I’m sure you will have no- ticed it too. Mentioning my mother’s death to other’s is a conversational weapon of mass destruction. When- ever mentioned, mostly en passant, it kills conver-sation. Faces go blank, followed by a split second of awkward silence, before hasty apologiesare spluttered.

As a child awkward silence is not something I could handle – I am not sure anybody could. I always felt ashamed, as if mentioning my mother’s death was committing a social crime. I didn’t want anybody to feel bad and I didn’t want to feel alienated.

Therefore I quickly adapted a little social mantra to deal with these reactions and try to smooth them over. When asked about my mother, I would openly admit that she had passed away and then quickly, before the other party had a chance to react, I’d say “but I was two and half when it happened, so I really don’t have any memory of her, so it’s not such a big deal because I really don’t remember it any other way. I’m not missing anything”. I know this helped people. It took some of the horror out of the four horrific words: “My mother is dead.”

It is almost like saying: “Oh don’t worry, I never really liked it anyway and it was already chipped”, when somebody breaks a plate/glass/cup of yours. It takes away the other person’s guilt. And yes, peo- ple do feel guilty. They feel like making me say the words out loud is going to cause me more pain. We are all raised like that. We want to make people feel happy around us – getting someone to say their mo- ther died usually doesn’t make them feel very hap- py.

The key point of the verbal defusing of the weapon was alway the “no memories”. Somehow people always felt this was a blessing disguise, as if not remembering her ment I was spared the pain of missing her. I believed that for a while myself – a long while actually. I felt that not having any memories ment I was not allowed to grieve. Now I understand that I am grieving my mom, that I should have had and that I can do that without actually remembering the person she was.

For a long time, I felt that lacking memory of my mother was almost like adding insult to injury. Not only was she gone and I couldn’t spend time with her building new memories, but also every random person knew more about my mother than I (her only child) did. It seemed unfair and it still does.

When I was 11 or 12 I heard that smells can conjure memories, so I stuck my nose into every spice container in our kitchen cabinet. No results. I spent hours in the basement, my nose buried in her old clothes stored away trying to sniff out anything, but dust and the irritating basement staleness. Eventually  I gave up. I won’t ever have my time machine in the past. My time machine is broken and only works one way. The problem with that is that driving is harder when you don’t have a rearview mirror and can’t turn around because you are going to fast. Dangerous situations can occur when feelings creep up on you.

I think that’s (in essence) what happened to me in my “horrible teens”. I hadn’t gotten around to setting my time machine on “future” yet, the present was unbearable and my past felt incomplete. I felt lost. Lost in time and space.

I’m trying to find myself again and working very hard at it, but I will always feel insecure about not being able to fully grasp the one moment that defined my life forever.

At times it feels like juggling chain saws blindfolded. It’s frightening and I don’t like being frightened. I guess it would be better to say, it feels like watching out for monsters under the bed.

You know they’re not there, but sometimes you can’t help checking.

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