Today, like a heavenly paintbrush, the wind, in our garden, had fun with the uncountable geometries of snow. Its hurried dance of snowflakes surprised us with ice flowers, and polar bears, and bushy tails of white foxes, and all the firs got heavy shawls of candyfloss. On this day of solstice, we sat on the windowsill among all the geraniums in bloom. You held me in your arms, our hearts two birds with wings entwined. How lovely winter sparkled, watched from the safety of your embrace. How beautiful your words of love, tickling my ear. How warm your laughter, on this cold day of winter solstice.
It’s been a weird year. My mind has always been… well, elsewhere.
I’ve been waiting for something that never seemed to materialise, and it’s no wonder it didn’t since it hasn’t even had a name or a face.
At some point, it was summer I was waiting for, but summer never really arrived and then it was already gone, and now a harsh winter is upon us. I’m not mentally prepared for the cold and the snow, and for the end of another year. I simply do not know when this one has gone away. I’ve somehow missed it. This doesn’t make much sense, does it?
Needless to say, I have done nothing for this year’s resolution, which was to start writing a novel. I’ve thought of it, I have most of it in my mind, but I only wrote a few words, and I mean a few. I am embarrassed but more than that, I’m worried.
The only thought that warms me is that, maybe, just maybe, the circumstances might excuse me, although I’m not seeking such an excuse. In fact, I came to loathe this excuse: no time. Always too busy, waking up at 5:30 am to go to a full time (high-tech) job, this insanely early only so that I can leave early to pick up my daughters, one from school, one from preschool, back home then in the avalanche of all the domestic, never-ending jobs (turning a poem in my mind, or a dialogue with my characters) kitchen-related or homework-related, or simply play with these two absolutely wonderful girls, until they go to bed, and then there’s the point of collapse, mind and body, beyond which there’s just another entirely similar day.
I deliberately kept the account of my typical day into one convoluted, grammatically incorrect phrase. It can only try to convey the extent of my daily busyness. On rare occasions, if I’m strong-willed enough, I can resist past this point of collapse and write a little, but that means that I’m much more tired the next day.
I’m thinking there must be some kind of respite available, before the respite of old age. I refuse to think in terms of doing this, that or the other when I retire or when the children are grown up. I cannot think like that because that would be similar to wishing for the time to go away, when in fact what I desire is for it to stand still.
I’m afraid to promise anything, even to myself, or even more so to myself. But I will continue trudging through this forest of perceived adversities, looking for the light of that illusory glade. I have to. I couldn’t be any other way.
As for you, my dear blogging friends, I thank you for your support and understanding. Maybe I haven’t been as present on your blogs or mine as I would’ve liked to be, but you were, are, always on my (writing) mind. I thank you for the treasure of your words, so generously shared over this electronic medium. I apologise for writing about sad things so many times.
A final thought, for now. We each have our own scale on which we measure our lives and our desires. I realise that compared to the much bigger problems that confront the world, my doubts and struggles are so petty, so insignificant. There are real issues out there, and tragedies, grave illnesses, wars, death, famine, all kinds of injustices, and all the people who go through them cannot allow themselves to be blue when they’re just trying to be.
Is there a map somewhere, he asked, a hydrographic wonder for all those rivers of tears that mothers have cried for their children’s fears, that wives have shed for husbands who never returned from this war or another, that sons have wept for lost loves, for fathers, and mothers? I would like to know to what ocean they flow, what unsated abyss buries all these rains of grief? This is what he asked. My heart, I answered, as I cried. This is the map, this is the hydrographic wonder, my heart, and his, this is the abyss.
“I have to show you something. I have to prepare you, in case…”
“Some reliable help you have…” I mumbled, half proud of getting his confidence, only hoping that the fresh crisp air would bring some clarity to my mind.
He told me to wait in the corridor and sneaked inside his apartment, with contortionist ability. He didn’t shut the door in my face, but it was obvious he didn’t want me to see the interior. However, through the slight opening of the door, I was able to catch a glimpse of a bare wall and floor, of a simple wooden table on which a pile of dirty dishes shared the space with a bizarre contraption. I could’ve pushed the door open. Instead I watched him as he put that weird thing onto a small trolley and rolled it to the entrance hall. I had to admire the swiftness with which he passed through the door and then closed it, without me seeing more than what I’d caught before. I let out a chuckle.
“Hiding something in there?”
It looked like a typewriter – I suspected he’d used parts of one to build it – badly combined with what could’ve been some cathode-ray tubes and other stuff taken from an old TV. And it had straps which made it look like a useless rucksack.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“A device I built… It misses one piece that a friend of mine is helping me find. Then, it will become a… mathematical harpoon.”
“We deal with equations, T. This is the domain of the highest of mathematics. We can’t use a gun or a club.”
“Coles wasn’t kidnapped by an equation!”
“Yeah, but I might be able to get him back with one.”
excerpt from "Shadow on Your Shoulder", a short story
Puzzled, I pressed my nose to the porthole. Without apparent reason, the water was clearer now, and brighter, as if sunshine penetrated the upper layers. There were immense algae around us – brown sargassum - their wide serpentine bodies undulating with the current. The corner of my eye caught a glimpse of a darker shadow. A fish, I thought, but had no time to ascertain this before it disappeared.
And then I saw them, a group of them, six or seven, passing right in front of the porthole, their coiled shells huge, striped in vivid ochres. A live diorama, I thought flabbergasted, for a second having the weird feeling I was at the museum. They swam backwards, their spotted mantles wavering with the small jets that propelled them. I saw their eyes, eyes of squids, inquisitive, and half-scaredly clutched the medallion at my neck. No Nautilus lived in sweet waters, and not in our lake; none was two feet big.
Short of breath, I turned to Uncle Jude, only to see him stare at me with an exuberant gaze, which seemed to be bursting with the question “So, what do you say?” or something like that. But my mind couldn’t form coherent words, not yet, only the buzz of excitement in a hollow of disbelief.
I pressed my nose to the glass again, but they were gone already, their tentacles disappearing swiftly at the edge of my field of vision.
OK, so this is how (I think) it was. A wind came first, out of nowhere, really, or out of the cave of indifference, carrying a hint of autumn- ignored or maybe just not recognised- a subtle chill, a whiff of ices, a rain, an unexpected frost one morning. The rain stayed, in guise of eyeglasses lending grey lenses to my weary eyes. Missing words, abandoned dreams, forgotten smiles were not sought, offered no shelter. Before I knew it, my soul had shed its fragile leaves. Love, sadness, pity, joy, even anger, even desire, lay withered at my feet. Hope lasted longest, such a tiny leaf, still green as I stomped on it on my way through the daily routine. Was it a sign that the sky dropped then fluffy tears? I don’t know. Do I care? The snow that covers now my feelings holds no promise of renewal. No spring music can (will) thaw my numb heart. Forever I am winter.