Showing posts with label memory. Show all posts
Showing posts with label memory. Show all posts

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Terminals & Interludes...

The purple glass of the halogen ceiling lamps, Ella singing in the background, the warmth of the day and how everyone is smiling, and the see-through patterned negligees a few stores over. I sit in a cafe at a high wood table sipping a strong and frothy and chocolate and cinnamon-sprinkled cappuccino thinking about the men in my life.

What I cannot envision. There were too many then; now there are none.

Probably they were all imaginary.

What do I want anyhow?

The reflection of the waterfall in the glass that protects the basalt-style concrete stairs. Sand melted into clear transparency and bounded by stainless steel, a continuous handrail.

I watch people walk up and down the stairs, like mirages. Or drifting over the sidewalks, catching their images in windows.

The clothes hanging loosely in the breeze waiting to be filled. Clothes imagining the people who will wear them walking up and down the stairs. Like that.

I must stop it now. All of it. My neck aches from the angle of the computer where I work. The mundanity of the days that pass without significant events anywhere in their hours. Plunging like a race in water that cleaves while you rush through.

Only, the truth, it is a season later and I am sitting in the library working at a terminal, having taken a streetcar to write during lunch.

Extrapolate the time; never mind ruminations on what wasn't. There are thin green lines with coins hanging at the ends of the scarf I'm wearing today. The lighting quivers harshly. Pages turn noisily. A librarian is retiring this afternoon; I overhear her tell a borrower that's she's not going to help him with any extraordinary means. If it works, fine; if it doesn't, I'm gone.

Not me. I work hard and never leave. I've come every day and now the system inexplicably locks me out early. I have 1 minute and 22 seconds left to write.

If I don't write I might go crazy. That's the way it is. She has greying pink hair and black fingernails and her clothes are large and black and animated. Look, I wrote in my book, on those days, in those places. June, August perhaps. In the plunging of time. And it was just like that. Certainly there were stories that I didn't tell under the purple halogen lights with Ella playing. But how are you to know that from the writing, which curves without revealing whereabouts.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Lacework

When I came back to writing, a simple image. Proustian, perhaps, but I shall let the lace unravel. It's taken me back to my grad school days, at the little apartment in the Annex area of Toronto I rented after the university year had begun and almost nothing was available.


I
t could begin with lace.

Lace that is white, or yellowed with the sun's steaming. Threads that are looped, twisted, braided, sewn with sharp needles, shaped like a cutwork of leaf veins in the sky. Finely-woven stitches, not broken or lost. Florals in white; sun-rises in white; waves in white. Spiderwebs of lace floating, an organic garden of cotton and linen and silk. Threads weaving the world...

That hangs over the door's casement glass.

On the hot Summer's night I pass the house that resembles the one that I remember.

The same brickwork, windows, placement on the land. Perhaps the orange lilies are descendants of the those when it was a boarding house and I lived in the kitchen become a bachelor apartment in the little room out back without insulation where I put my bed and had visions.

Upstairs the Vietnam vet who once a month shrieked for hours at the guerrillas in the napalm drenchings of his mind. He deserted what could never desert him. He became a Peeping Tom and I kept my curtains shut at night, long, deep burgundy red velvet curtains, redolent with smoke and cooking oils, that were there, perhaps, from the house's inception.


-

He only looked in the window once, at night, it was very dark, but I knew who it was. I was writing in a journal, non-stop writing that I did every spare moment. My hair was blonde and long and curly. When I lifted my knees on the couch to hold the book while I wrote there was an audible gasp -though I wore shorts- and he ran away. That was when I began keeping the long, dark velvet curtains shut, and I told a man who had lived in the house and who knew about the man who shouted at the air for hours every month or so and we agreed he was a bit crazy but harmless.

Once when I went upstairs to see the kitchen that my friend used his door was open and he was lying in the middle of his large bed without a shirt on, fat, big white belly and a fuzz of dark chest hair, tortured with memory, flashbacks, fury, the incendiary mess of the Vietnam war, a victim of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and he looked very hot, it was a Summer heat-wave, and sorrowful.

The look on his face at seeing me peering at him was a surprised interruption of an unending tangle of thoughts that always occupied him. Perhaps he received a government cheque every month and paid his rent and got drunk; perhaps that was when the shouting began.

It was like he was yelling at a commando, someone who didn't do what they should have done, or didn't look after everyone as they should have, an unending invective of recrimination, scattered words, repetitive, without coherency.

The whole house shook with his shouting. It was from a place of such deep pain no-one ever called the police. Or complained to the landlord. Canada was a safe haven from the American obsession with a pointless and horrific and endless war. It's hard to imagine that he felt we were taking care of him, but in our own way we were.

Of course, in those days, the door didn't have an exquisite, expensive layer of lace, it was bare.



Thursday, May 10, 2007

Reunion

Reconnection with what is familiar. Like deja vu, only not the strangeness of the unexpected familiarity of a memory that doesn't exist. Rather reconnecting to memories evoked by what has accompanied one through years of living. Scratched perhaps, a little tacky, needing refinishing, but redolent with the past.

As I unpack, my past unfolds before me like one of those cut-out stand-up books of children's illustrations. From each page something springs forth that's newly found. It might be as simple as my Tibetan-patterned duvet or as complex as a filing cabinet of old journals.

The distant rocking of the subway coming into the station in the earth below is like a dim thunder traveling through the soil into my bones. It's simultaneously a rocking, comforting sound and electric. If I am sleepwalking through the days it's because I'm mesmerized by the dream that life is.

It's not just unpacking my household but a voice from the past that's shaken me from the insomnabulism of settling into sameness. I'm re-entering who I am as a different person.

Writing is like scrying, perceiving the deeper truths. I could throw alphabets like yarrow stalks into the air and see how they land, or toss Tarot cards with their symbolism over the bed, or my Chinese coins with their holes in the centre six times and read the prognosis of the I Ching, or hold my blue lapis lazuli pendulum with its fine gold veins by its silver chain and see which way it swings when I ask the secret questions.

We have fiction because life would be far too strange without fabrication.

I survey my boxes of books and clothes and furniture and writing and paintings and am stunned that I still have everything.

How does what we thought was lost become found?



Is reunion a reciprocity that is inherent in existence? Not just breaking apart, the entropy, but 'coming together' itself as a process. When what is familiar returns to its original relation. Or is it that I cannot lose what's mine? I am surrounded by what I have collected. And with this collection comes an identity that I was shorn of when I had nothing.

It's miraculous, yes, but also about reception and acceptance.

We know time and space bend. Was it always curving so that while we thought we were traveling apart we were actually flying towards each other?

I don't mean to speak in riddles, but with reconnections and reunions on different levels I am reverberating in the strangeness of familiarity.

What was past becomes future. Time and space nestle within their own mysteries. I find my past opening like Chinese boxes as I magically find the trail that led to here.

Memory becomes living heritage and I feel I am bequeathed such gifts by a younger self. How to fathom the depth of the love of this deeper reunion?