14 November, 2016

seven smiles

i've been wanting to write since last tuesday but, as you can well imagine, anything i'd have written would have been well marinated in tears and bile and a deep visceral anger. i didn't write the post i'd meant to write* and so i didn't write at all but then sweet lucy presented me with a meme that counterbalances at least some of the darkness: 7 good memories, an easy task, i'd think, given my ability to dress my past in garlands of joy (it's the present that is difficult, innit?)

  1. my first christmas outside of the communist block - we walk the streets of a tiny mountain town in austria where we are waiting out the seemingly endless immigration process to canada, and i am astounded by the sheer beauty of the store windows: lit up, filled to the brim with lights and decorations, sparkling and joyful. this is new to me after the dour greyness of the poland of my childhood. it seems like the very soul of christmas - snow, candles, toys, colours, and beauty - so much beauty!
  2. i'm walking to my university class, the first class i've taken since becoming a dental hygienist several years earlier. i'm excited at the intellectual stimulation that i'm finally getting but it's also summer - may? june? it's early afternoon and the sun is golden and syrupy and it lights up the cotton willow fluff that seems to be dancing from the sky in slow motion. years later, this moment comes back to me again and again as a confirmation of  quotidian magic. 
  3. my cousin calls my cell just as i leave the gym. i sit in the volvo in the rain and he tells me he has a daughter and i immediately love her, sight unseen, and sit in the car and we cry over the phone, both of us loving this small first child in the family. 
  4. i walk up to a street at the university and mr. monkey is there, waiting for me, standing by his bike, wearing one of his awful striped shirts. i see him and i feel my face breaking into a smile so huge it threatens to fall right off my cheeks. it's not dramatic. it's not romantic. it's just love, that's all.
  5. we're walking along a fern-leaved path somewhere in oregon. it's damp, green, misty and absolutely lush. the stream we are following weaves in and out of the foliage and then, suddenly, without any warning at all we find ourselves in a deep valley, the walls covered in a multitude of terns bedazzled by dew, which opens up to a wide white beach. you can hear the ocean out there... i don't think i've ever seen a place like this - elves should live here, not humans, and yet here we are. 
  6. i get off the tram and am walking to school. i can see my shadow on the sidewalk and i've got two huge red bows in my hair. i feel so grown up, such an independent girl. i'm in grade 1 or 2. 
  7. i've only recently gotten my driver's licence (late bloomer that i am) and i now have a brand new second hand car to go with it. i live in calgary but my friends and boyfriend are in whitecourt. it's a bit of a drive but when i fly along the secondary highways of central alberta, i feel indomitable, the world belongs to me: it's not the car but my own damn superpower that drags the highway beneath the wheels, pulling me along home. i am a goddess!
my natural tendency in these dark days has been to hunker down in the land of fantasy, or at the very least to stay away from the news. between that and full immersion there must be a happy medium that will keep me informed but not broken-hearted. i'm still looking for it. and in the meantime? books. 

* about how, at 44, i've finally been given to understand the full depth, breadth, and sheer unadulterated ugliness of misogyny in a way that evades my ability to forget the bad. oh, world, you are an ugly place right now!


Geneviève Goggin said...

Those are beautiful smiles. We should all do the same in these dark times.

Tom said...

Reading these lines, as I also felt when reading dear Lucy's, brings a smile to my face, joy to the heart, and a warmth that will overpower all the darkness through which we must walk.

Lucy said...

So glad you did this, these are so vivid and beautiful.

Roderick Robinson said...

These are bigger matters than those in my comparatively sheltered list - emigration, university (I started work at the newspaper aged 15), driving along those long long straight roads near Calgary (I skied at Panorama and flew over them) - and they suggest a more intense, more radical set of events. But one provides a direct echo. Before we moved to the US for six years we took a tour of mainland Europe in summer 1965 and spent several days in what was then still Jugoslavia. We'd entered from Austria and exited into Italy; in contrast Trieste seemed like a permanent holiday, notably the powerful almost overwhelming smell of chocolate in one particular shop. Ah, back in the decadent West again. With the USA yet to come

Zhoen said...

These things take time, often a lifetime.