Sunday, February 27, 2011

See no evil

Given the fragile and emotional child that my father had always been, he was both surprised and a little frightened by his reaction to the news of his fathers' suicide. He knew he should have fallen apart and cried until there were no more tears in his body, but he didn't. He knew he should have blamed society, alcohol or God for his loss, but no. He knew everyone expected him to lose his grip on reality and wander off to some imaginary place where he could heal his wounds, but it never happened.

A week later. He felt: nothing. He did: nothing. Instead he found himself in an emotional no mans land. It was as if the whole world promptly had stopped turning, and a strange sense of serenity came over him. If he hadn't been so numbed by the surrealism of the whole situation, he would probably have felt guilty over being so calm. Later on he most definitely did, but for the moment he could only accept that he saw clarity like never before. Over night, he suddenly knew exactly what he needed to do, and how he had to shape the rest of life. All doors were opened, the road ahead was clear.

He had to leave, he had to go somewhere, anywhere. Away from it all.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Falling from grace

He pondered over the question for all of his life. He never could let it go and asked himself over and over again: if I hadn't said anything, would he still be alive?

Having been evicted, my father's family had to move in with his grandmother, a purple-haired raging alcoholic in her early 70s, living in a solitary run down house in the outskirts of the city. From growing up in a home dominated by an emotionally absent father, the two children now had to spend their time in one of violence and constant upset.

My father was 14 at the time. He had seen his own father descend from a pedestal of power to becoming a shadow of a man, a sad wreck for whom he had lost all respect. He wanted to feel compassion but could only remember how he had never been loved like a son, the way he needed and deserved. He wanted to confront him but was afraid of the response, or the possible lack of one.

One late evening he sat on his bed in the dark, listening to a fragile silence. His father was in the other room with his bottle of whiskey and endless amounts of bitterness. He could hear his strained breathing, trapped in a state between terror and apathy. After what seemed like an eternity, the broken man got up, sighed loudly and walked towards the bedroom. Standing in the doorway he looked at my father, then on the floor, then on my father again. He said, mumbling, "do you know I was always disappointed in you?"

Silence.

"You will never amount to anything."

Silence.

"I tried to set a good example for you. I worked and I struggled, and all I got was a lousy slouch of a son. You are the only failure in my life."

My father stared at him for a full minute, then spoke, his voice trembling with indignation.

"Of all the things I wish for in this world", he said, "what is most important to me is that I never become the sort of man that you have always been".

The next morning he was awakened by the local police knocking on the door. They told him his father had walked out infront of the train an hour earlier.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A friend in need's a friend indeed

When it happened, I felt amputated. A chunk of my body was torn off, a piece of my heart severed, a portion of my persona surgically removed. I was silenced and numbed by the pain, unable to even cry or break into the little pieces of myself, held together only by the massive chock. I lived in a vakuum for weeks and weeks untill I finally had to tell someone, and I told her.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Everywhere is war

For the first time in his life, the proud and persistent father of two - my grandfather - was defeated. He had fought many battles and been badly bruised before, as any warrior has, but in the end he had always come out on top. While there, he was widely admired for this rare quality, but the crisis swept away everything he had built and left him standing all alone. No one thanked him for the many years of devoted service, no one came to him and said "you can't win them all". In an instant, he was forgotten along with his deeds and costly accomplishments.

Up until then he had always and alone supported his family, with money anyway. That was the final frontier of his pride, his last battleground. When the bailiff took over the house and threw him and his children out on the street, he felt violated and crushed in a way he hadn't since joining the social democratic movement decades earlier. It was an invasion, and act of war, and he was too old and too weak to return the fire and retaliate. For him, it was all over.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A midwinter night's dream

Can some people feel it when you think of them?

I was afraid to contact S, it's been so long and it's only because of me. I wanted her to call me today because I needed someone like her, and suddenly she did. We met at The Grove and ended up in the Victoria's Secret store where she tried on a dozen bras. For every one she asked what I thought and was satisfied with me just smiling.

But then there's that sixth sense that she has. As we walked back she asked me what was wrong, and I told her. She kept quiet and just listened, and when we got to her house and her pink little room she said "hold my hand until that sadness is gone". It was the sweetest thing I've ever heard, I burst into tears and cried for a half hour. She held my hand like she said she would, ran her slender fingers through my hair and breathed calmly. Afterwards, I wiped my tears on her white Prada dress and told her I love her.

She looked so happy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

An ending

The company my grandfather worked for was the very backbone of that small society, everyone knew someone who worked there. The news that they were closing down after nearly 50 years came as a chock and a complete surprise to everyone. The unions tried to negotiate, and even suggested they would buy the factories, but came nowhere. Over 350 people lost their jobs, and the whole city lost its breathing air.

My grandfather lost more than that. You could call it his reason for living, and after so many years serving his workers there was no way back for him. He was mentally as well as physically paralyzed and sat more or less still in a chair for two weeks. If he was a quiet man before, from that point he didn't speak at all. His family tried to be there for him the way he never had been for them, but it proved to be of little or no comfort.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I could have been someone, well so could anyone

His father, my grandfather, was the head of the local industry union. He was a proud man and a passionate socialist who devoted his life to fighting for the interests of his fellow workers. He never asked for anything in return, selflessly sacrificing hours and hours of his time standing on the barricades for someone elses benefits.

My father looked up to him for his tenacious struggle and uncompromising ideals, but there was always something missing. Given the depth of his political dedication, he never had the time to be there for his own family when they needed him. And being the fragile child that my father was, feeling alienated both from the society in general and from the man that was supposed to be his role model in particular, was a heavy burden to bear.

He needed to be noticed and cared for, but his rock-solid-man of a father had other priorities. When the crisis hit the small town he was born and grew up in, he tried to fight back but failed. When times are changing the old ones fall apart, and no one represented the old times better than the grandfather I never met.

Friday, February 18, 2011

And your eyes shall be opened

It was a time, he said, when reality caught up with the fantasies, and it felt a little like taking a virginity. For him it was no surprise, even though the bigger picture wasn't entirely clear to him yet. He had already seen those scars and bruises underneath the pretty surface and was only happy to see the walls finally crumble around him.

It was of course many years later that he fully understood what had actually happened and why, which is also true for myself. I loved to listen to his stories, but for me they were just that: stories. His early life and childhood was so distant and vague, to me he was simply my father, living in LA with my mother and me. His past and the society he grew up in seemed like a dream, and sometimes like a really bad one. Now I know he didn't exaggerate and never whitewashed anything to protect me, and that still frightens me.

For the longest of time he thought that the crisis unfolding everywhere around him wouldn't affect his family, but it soon would, to an extend he could never have dreamed of.



Thursday, February 17, 2011

The only living girl in New York

My darling readers.

I'm home again, reading your sweet comments, smiling humbly. Thank you all so very much, and forgive me in advance for what you can't already know.

I went to New York because I thought my mother actually had something important to tell me, but I was wrong. In the midst of her rambling I tried to map her emotional state, unsucessfully. She thinks that she cares for me, but she only does it for her own sake, never really bothering to find out how I'm feeling or even who I am.

She wants me to love her simply because she's my mother, but I need a better reason than that. I need her to try harder and deserve my love, unconditional or not, either way. But her world doesn't function like that. In it, she's the sun and everything around her is there for the sole purpose of making her shine even brighter than before.

This is a realization I got - like so many other things - from my dearly departed father.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I want to be a part of it

Darling readers,

I have to go away for a couple of days. My mom sent me a letter from New York with a plane ticket and the words "I need to talk to you" written hastily on a torn piece of paper. I'm guessing it's serious, but with her there's just no way of knowing. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and my head cool, for now.

And as I go I want to tell you all that you're very special to me, and that I want you to do me a favour. Since I'm probably going to need it, will you write something nice in the comment field? About me, about yourselves or about anything.

Always remember how greatful I am for all your attention and support. Keep reading, keep posting, keep in touch.


Love,
Avy

Saturday, February 12, 2011

An awakening

I never wanted to hear the usual bedtime stories. I was his princess and he was my hero, and that was enough. Instead, I wanted him to tell me tales from his childhood. So he did. 

Growing up in the 60s, he said, was in many ways like living in a fairytale. Even though his own life was filled with angst and hardship, he was always told that he lived in the best of societies. The rest of the world envied the stability and security enjoyed by common men in his country, and the economic model embraced by the government seemed flawless. 

But the Swedish nation, he said, suddenly encountered difficult problems in the early 70s. Problems that no one had expected and that came to define my father's life through his father, and in a way also affected me. It seems there is no escaping a lie that transcends generations: the one about the final state of perfection.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Prelude

Remembering days when the sun would shine on us. For us. He would stroke my cheek and call me princess, say "everything will be fine, just wait and see". When we were alone together we had all the time in the world and we could wait for as long as we had to. But things change so quickly, and I had to grow up without him. Now, whenever I think of time, it's with mixed emotions. Too much or never enough, depending on the weather.

Sunshine: I used to be so happy

Rain: When will this end?  

Tic toc tic toc.

And yet another day passes. Whatever the color of the skies, I'm on my own.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

And the darkness he called night

He never jumped, but there were times when he wished he had. He was too proud and too intelligent to not be affected by the poisonous words from the gangs in that small town. As a child, being vulnerable and sensitive, it all becomes so very real, and the slightest scratch on your skin feels like a thousand needles.

They seemed to be everywhere, all the time, from early morning till late at night. Just seeing them made his stomach ache, the very notion of what they could potentially do or say to hurt him. While their powers seemed limitless, he himself felt as if the world began and ended where they walked. There was simply no escaping those rock hard phantoms, and at nights he would dream about steel cages and rivers without water.

Waking up he always new it was just another day in paradise.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

He called the light day

I should probably be sleeping, but my mind wanders as so often before. Mom's not here, and even though she's the coldest person I've ever known, in a funny way it makes me feel lonely. Lonely, and alone. My father was just lonely, he always had someone close to him. Not that it helped.

He told me about the first time he went up on the roof of his family's house. He had been trying to sleep for hours, tossing and turning over some remark from the bullies in school. It was pitch black outside, dead silent, as he cautiously sat down on the cool brick tiles. Something came over him, a mixed feeling of freedom and tranquility. He thought "what if I'd jump". Scooching down to the edge of the roof he was filled with excitement, his heart pounding heavily. The stars in the autumn sky looked like a million curious eyes, watching him, waiting for his next move. His mind wandered.

Our house also has a climbable roof.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Inheritance

I got so much from him, but it's only now that I fully realize it. And I still don't know where he got it all from, if he was born like that or if the society that he lived in shaped him with its razor sharp prejudices and social norms. One quality I recognize from him, in myself, is the ever so lingering ambivalence. I sometimes wake up with no power at all, not feeling sad or lonely but just apathetic. It's not that anything in particular made me feel that way, I just lose the drive to change whatever situation I'm in and accept my fate. I know he sometimes felt the same way, that he never wanted anything else than to leave his native town and find a better life, but at times he would just give up, for a day or two. Luckily - as with me - he soon after found that spark again, got up on his feet and made things happen. He finally got all the way to America, but not before having lived through many days of wanting to do or feel absolutely nothing.

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