Monday, June 20, 2011

his absent presence

It is my regrettable habit to come here and remember.
Every morning before mother wakes up, wanting my company and her breakfast, I come to this field that lies a short distance from the house I fear I'll live in forever. There is nothing outstanding-looking about this field. One needs to have past memories to see the extraordinariness of such an ordinary place. The field's plethora of clover holds no lucky four-leafs that anyone has ever found, but rather memories in soothing, green abundance. The sharpest eye on earth couldn't spot the two entwined souls that once lay in the clover; they're only a remembrance now.
Even the lone tree in the upper right corner of the field holds no man-made scars, outward crude initials on its bark; the backs that together leaned against its trunk left no imprint.
There are birds, ever present, though not always noticed. Sometimes I hear echoes of past conversations as if the birds were parrots and mynas instead of robins and wrens.
"Many don't come back." I hear him say.
He said it so many times and my mind repeated it back. Sometimes I think it was just a lesson I memorized to mindlessly drone in reply to those who asked what my knowledge amounted to. Yet at the same time, I did know it and feel it and taste it. It felt like a punch, tasted like blood in my mouth.
Still, it did not prepare me for this outcome. I expected black or white... not this disconcerting grey.

Every time I go to see him echoes from the field follow.
"I will love you forever."
I look into his eyes and search for that forever in their blue blankness. Nothing is there.
"It is okay to move on when... if I am gone." His voice in my mind says.
I look down at his pale hand I grasp. "Why didn't we ever define the word 'gone'?" I ask, though he never notices or responds. "Your body is here, but your mind has folded into itself as if it never existed. If I should lay my head upon your chest your heartbeat would pound underneath my searching ear. Does your heart still function in ways besides its task of pumping blood?
I prepared myself to love you without an arm or a leg; I don’t know what to do with someone who has lost everything except their outward appendages. I was ready to love whatever havoc guns and army life would wreak on you. Without second thought, I would have stayed by your side always, stopped the nights from tearing you apart with unseen claws.
You were mine, that was enough. Now I don't know who you belong to. You're lost in a land they tell me you will never return from."

Whether I cry these things aloud or just think them makes no difference; he doesn't hear either way.

Somehow my remembering of the past and how we once were always turns into an inventory of my present. I must go in soon and get mother her breakfast. My skirt is damp from the dew-stained clover. Mother will look at my soggy skirts disapprovingly, as she does every day. Perhaps she knows the field is where I keep my memories and each morning I sit among them as they roam around me. She thinks I need to move on, she and her friends plot together and introduce me to men deemed suitable who are all wrong. (They aren't him.)
She doesn't understand. For now I must, I must keep coming here. But I feel... and am more than reluctant to admit that there may come a time when I won't come anymore; I will have moved on and will want to forget. Though I admit this, it still frightens me; I don't want to become someone who wants to forget.
I almost get up to leave, but I decide to surrender. I lie down in the clover and stare into the blank sky. I shut my eyes and let the memories close in on me. Mother's breakfast will have to wait.

(This story was inspired by a character in the Maisie Dobbs mysteries by Jacqueline Winspear. A character "...whose terrible injuries in the Great War had rendered him incapacitated in body and mind." [from the third book in the series "Pardonable Lies".])

{Painting is 'Girl in Field' by Eric Hu.}

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ravings of a Bibliophile

You know what makes me sad?
When people (kids and teens in particular) tell me they don't like to read.
It makes me want to hide in the back of a dark, dark closet and mutter curses against our current society. Of course, I'd take a flashlight in the closet with me so I could read in between tears and anguished cries.

I mean, how sad would it be to not like to read?
How tragic is it that some consider reading to be something one is forced to do for school? (I am related to some of these people too! *shudders*)

Books mean the world to me. I cannot remember a time when reading was not something I enjoyed. This past year I have started taking trips twice a week to the library. Like one diseased, I search online for interesting and new-to-me books to read. (Which reminds me, got a recommendation? Leave it in the comments!)
This winter, especially, books have been invaluable. Books were my drug. When life got too stressful, too sad, too lonely, I lost myself in an inky world. According to I have read 175 books so far in 2011 (only a handful of which are re-reads since I don't usually log my re-reads.) Yes, I read a disgusting amount these days. It wasn't always like this, believe me. But I figure I probably won't have this kind of time later on in life so I am taking advantage of it now.

If you are reading this and don't like to read, I'm sorry. Sorry for for my vehement opinions or sorry for your incomplete existence, you may wonder. Well, I'm... not going to answer that. :P

Some of my favourite book quotes I have collected in my readings:

"I closed my eyes, put my right hand on top of the book, and passed it lightly across the cover. It was cool and smooth like a stone from the bottom of the brook, and it stilled me. A whole other world is inside there, I thought to myself, and that's where I want to be."
-From Ida B. by Katherine Hannigan

"Literature is a source of pleasure, he said, it is one of the rare inexhaustible joys in life, but it's not only that. It must not be disassociated from reality. Everything is there. That is why I never use the word fiction. Every subtlety in life is material for a book. He insisted on the fact. Have you noticed, he'd say, that I'm talking about novels? Novels don't contain only exceptional situations, life or death choices, or major ordeals; there are also everyday difficulties, temptations, ordinary disappointments; and, in response, every human attitude, every type of behavior, from the finest to the most wretched. There are books where, as you read, you wonder: What would I have done? It's a question you have to ask yourself. Listen carefully: it is a way to learn to live. There are grown-ups who would say no, that literature is not life, that novels teach you nothing. They are wrong. Literature performs, instructs, it prepares you for life."
-from A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé

"As I stood outside in Cow Lane, it occurred to me that Heaven must be a place where the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

No ... eight days a week."
-From The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

"When you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night - there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book."
-From The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley

"I feel, holding books, accommodating their weight and breathing their dust, an abiding love. I trust them, in a way that I can't trust my computer, though I couldn't do without it. Books are matter. My books matter. What would I have done through these years without the library and all its lovely books?"
-From The Girls by Lori Lansens

(A few of my very favourite books.)

{1st picture from the film "Les Parapluies de Cherbourg" and 2nd picture taken by me.}

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

mostly true musings on missing

I put my memories of you on the gramophone and played them all night long.
I awoke in the morning, stretched out on the floor like a cadaver.
All I felt was sadness and confusion. Had I awoken from a dream? I don’t remember.
But the sadness and confusion decided to make themselves at home; one nestled in my right pocket, the other in my left.

The rain sang drowsily all morning and dampened the world's colours. I sat at the window and mused how if I should touch any part of the wet world, the colours would come off on my hand.
I contemplated going outside and tracking the grass's green into the worn, grey asphalt. Perhaps I should have run my hands across our blue car and then streaked my fingers across the sky, making it blue again.

I took the poem with the cracked frame off the wall and replaced it with a Monet: vague, colourful, whoami?; it seems to fit my life right now.

Do you know how to say 'I miss you' in French? 'Tu me manques.' That literally translates as 'You are missing to me'. I love that.
The phrase 'I miss you' seems so solitary, as if the missing process only concerned 'I', myself. But 'tu me manques': your presence is evident, you are the subject of the sentence.
Likewise, you do not miss me, I am missing to you. Je te manque. We are a whole that makes no sense apart.

At first, I thought I would be fine. Now I feel as if my subconscious has been dyed the colour of your eyes. Underneath every thought and action it’s there, a wandering, green phantom. I can't wash it out no matter how hard I try. Though perhaps I was hardly trying at all... (It's too wearying to care enough these days.)

It seems to be my fate to miss the times and places that have gone, and the people too. The times and places cannot be helped, but the people... perhaps I am at fault. Maybe there is something I could have said or done, so that I would not be here, feeling lost and dreaming of you. Yet there is a thought that haunts me: I am happier this way, missing you. That I have made you transcendent as an intangible and your reality could never measure up.
For all I know, that could be true. But it has no chance of being proved or amended because... tu me manques (and I fear it will last forever).

{1st picture taken from text of "Miss Bishop" by Bess Streeter Aldrich, 2nd picture taken by me [the painting is, of course, by Monet], 3rd picture is of Paul and Linda McCartney taken from his 'Maybe I'm Amazed' music video.}