Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Visitors

"What I'm certain of [...], what I saw so clearly through that window, is that I never want to put a child into this world."

Mother's own words from an entry in her diary, dated November 24, 1978. I guess I should be heartbroken about it but the truth is I've always felt the same way. Life is more than a blessing, it's a death sentence without the right to appeal. She was strong for me all those years in the beginning so now I fight to keep from letting whatever happened after that overshadow the sacrifices she must have made just to survive.

***

My French is improving, Henry compliments me on the way I review other Americans when we sit down for coffee somewhere (their accents, their mundane clothes, what trivialities they discuss). "What's your mother like" I ask him. He giggles nervously, like a little girl, clumsily playing with his cigarette lighter until he drops it on the stone paving.

"Didn't I tell you", he says, his voice trembling the way still waters do when it rains. "She's in Paris, I'm sure you'll meet her soon."





















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Saturday, April 12, 2014

A tell-tale heart

Our last spring still sounds like an unfinished overture. We planted a peach seed near our summer house but mother refused to go back and I never got to see it blossom. I've come to judge her by these last ten years of indifference but when I do I forget that once, before the transitions and the storms, she was good to me.

It was only afterwards that I found her diary, I wasn't supposed to but I'm glad that I did because it helped me understand. She wrote about escaping and finding peace after the snowfalls, about redemption and about T (my father). He named me but wouldn't tell me what it meant when I asked him, mother is the only one that knows and she keeps his secret like a promise beyond the apocalypse.

When I browse through the jackets in her closet now I'm reminded of the light summer dresses and the sunset on the balcony and if I listen closely I can still hear the sound of her infectious laughter echoing through the seasons.





















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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Serenity

Mother in her delicate florals on the terrace, summer night winds in her eumelanin bird's-nest hair. How she turns to me and smiles, the image of her effortlessness forever captured like a snapshot in my mind. I know it's Los Angeles vibrating deep in the background, the smell of lavender and red wine and the blue of the ocean.

And years later, how I watch her as she tears her light summer dresses to shreds, leaving them slaughtered and scattered across the floors for me to mourn. These images are harsh, unfiltered and saturated, but maybe it's just the way I want to remember things.

The girl on the terrace became an orphan when everything changed. The woman she called mother is another today, unrecognizable but still a mother. She has qualities too but the light is different, her hair heavier, the way she used to smile a childish fantasy.



















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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Karenina

I was born in September at the breaking point between summer and fall, that time of year when life decelerates and the things that used to grow begin their slow decay. My earliest memories are of mother, romantically filtered through the lens of a Polaroid camera. In my mind they're just images, exposed to too much sunlight and therefore unrealistically pallid. None of it really happened, at least not to us.

Henry sits by the window in the kitchen, the color of the sky turns from celeste to navy to black as I watch him in rigid silence. I ask him what he thinks it means to be happy, if he still remembers what it felt like.

Seasons shift outside, the weight of this world seems unbearable and never in my life have I felt so desperately sad. Happiness, he says, is a fairy tale and it breaks as easily as a butterfly's wings.



















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Friday, March 28, 2014

Sarajevo

Spiked morning coffee with myself at de Flore. It's the eye of the hurricane, the outskirts of a perfect storm and a thousand trivial conversations dilute the imminent threat of another war. A woman accuses me of eavesdropping, if shots were fired outside she wouldn't notice over the deafening sound of her own self-absorbed banalities.

Later with Henry, I mention LA in passing over dinner somewhere in Montparnasse. "Do you miss it", he asks, I want to say no but it's only a part of the truth. I miss the nights we spent in the cold sand by the ocean, the things we would talk about and the smell of her chestnut hair. I would close my eyes and imagine us together in the water, holding hands beneath the surface in the dark. Her grip is firm at first then gradually loosens until she lets go and all that remains is a soporific silence and the waves.


















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