Fix You

The words and numbers bleed from the page into a massive blur.

She was home alone again. With the familiar creaks of the door, the clicks of the thermostat, the drips of the tap. It was all deafening. How to shut silence out? You can squeeze your eyes close and plug your ears and think happy thoughts, but that predicates a nice infinite bank of happy thoughts one can draw from. And even that will not disguise this particular state of friendlessness.

It wasn’t that there weren’t people around. There were too many people around. It’s just that, well, simply put, they were not good enough. There was a dwindling number of kindred spirits, people who could block out this awful loneliness.

It wasn’t really anybody’s fault. It may very well be that she was destined to be forgotten, like an old history textbook. An acquaintance’s birthday. A wallflower. Left behind like the ornery kid. The ugly duckling. The unraptured.

She’d feared being left behind all her life. Vivid scenes of piles of clothes filled her thoughts, threatening absolute isolation: her parents’ shoes and socks and pants, neatly limp on a chair, their bodies dissolved into nothingness. And hers? Frighteningly present, in a world with no one left.

And now, it had happened for real.

People never remember the exact details of parting. It steals in like a thief in the night, changing the combination to your safe one digit at a time. You don’t notice until all your belongings are gone, and the sudden chill of nothingness jolts you from your peaceful slumber – where is the bed? – the slumber with which you invited the thief into your household. He doesn’t raise any alarms, taking only little things, mere trinkets, with him each time.
And among the little things we count:
1. the changing of the tone of a voice,
2. the messages that were never read,
3. the growing pile of work that positively demanded our whole attention,
4a. the forgetting of an appointment,
4b. and then a birthday,
4c. and then correspondence,
4d. and finally the whole person ceases altogether to exist.

In the final calculation: I am not the unraptured, but the raptured- I have simply, quietly, ceased to exist.

You are the bottleneck.
And I am deeply disappointed in you.

Palmenhaus

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This was the greenhouse that actually made my SD card run out of memory space. we had to run back to neustiftgasse at 5pm to transfer pics out to my hard drive. liangze lost one of the three SD cards we brought along, and i thought i could survive on just two, but I guess I couldn’t. Being with michelle again, we have to do a lot of touristy things and museums. So today we went to the music instrument museum and armory museum in the hofburg palace, where Empress Elisabeth used to have violet sorbet delivered to her from the Cafe Demel (!! I want to be an Austrian Empress). And after that we went to the Palmenhaus at Schonbrunn and I took about 2394875 pictures of flowers.

I also only just discovered that wordpress automatically flips my pictures. I hadn’t uploaded any portrait shots previous to now since I didn’t have a picture editor on my tablet and I thought they would be unrotated when uploaded. Apparently there is no easy html code to rotate pics in wordpress, have to do it through the wordpress picture editor which is unfeasible for me cause I am blogging via the wordpress app and there is no picture editor in that! But I guess I don’t have to worry about it anymore since the spirit balance reading from our camera is encoded into the pictures!

Stepping out

Sitting in one of the many dirty fuzzy seats in the metro.
In one of the many carriages, amongst the many faceless people, waiting to go home.
We journey together in a big wave, exhausted with weariness. Keeping each other company without saying a word.
Everyone is tired, too tired to think, to move, so we are swept en masse toward our destination.
How can we all be travelling to the same place? You ask. You don’t even know each other.
But we are. We are all going home.

I do not know any of them, and I keep my hood lowered. They cannot see my face.
I plug in my ipod, for all intents and purposes, inert to my general surroundings. I could be a pole in the train. Or a dog on his leash with sympathetic eyes. Or the doors, sliding open and close, open and close.
I have reached a point where I no longer need to stare anxiously out the window or at the map to make sure I don’t miss my stop. I simply wait. And then, I know.
The city has become familiar to me. It is my third, no- fourth home. Which also means it is time to leave soon. I am swept from city to city, I lay down roots, and they never let me go.
I am held down to each city that I call home. I know the people there, and I know what makes them happy, what gives them pain. I know where to find soy bean milk, and sesame oil, and I know where to seek spiritual refuge. I have laid down roots, and also hiding places in all of them.

The hiding place of each of my homes is the most beautiful, sacred place. In it I can find peace in nature, but also be free to cry buckets of tears without being judged, without people staring and pointing, as if sadness is unnatural. I can walk through shimmery leafed boulevards, next to rivers or lakes, and I can cry about things that have not yet happened, or about tragic ends of loved ones, or about hatred, or neglect. Completely in my imagination, of course, but that’s what a hiding place is for, isn’t it? The free rein to dream the worst about yourself, the worst about others, the free rein to be as insecure as you actually are, because there is nobody there to be strong for. No facades.
Just you, and your Maker,
all the other things He has made-

and a promise of faithfulness.

Erika

So the house was empty again. Doors were opened, windows aired, the piano came back to life.
The basement cleaned out, the trash cleared, until not a trace of the girl remained.

The woman had always been disappointed in things. Disappointed with her life, disappointed with her job, and the girl was equally disappointing. It was a point with her, really. To always be disappointed. That’s why she screwed up her mouth and her nose at anything that disagreed with her, as if they disagreed with her stomach and was about to make her very ill.

Perhaps it was because of her sugar free diet. With a diabetic husband, and a personal disinclination to gluten, there was not much to enjoy in the way of food.

Perhaps it was that she had no grandchildren. Since both sons had no intention to settle down, as the more selfish members of Generation Y are wont to do nowadays, there was not a flicker of a hope of any grandchildren brightening up the house. And Andras was 70. They celebrated his birthday with artificially sweetened kifli and a bottle of wine.

It was going to be another disappointing winter. Perhaps they would not do christmas after all.

Estella

She got home one day, and her room was filled with stars. Her mother had stuck these plastic glow in the dark stars up on the walls. The same stars that would be torn off one day, leaving peeled paint in their wake.

They blinked at her in the darkness of the night, smiling knowingly at her thoughts and aggressions.

How infuriating.

The Inanimate World

On her way home, she saw the cornflakes scattered across the floor of the neighbouring apartment block. They weren’t supposed to be there. Someone had poured them out haphazardly all across the concrete floor, cornflakes strewn as seeds sown in fertile ground.

Was it the conclusion of a fight? Perhaps a young child’s squabble with his mother for not buying him krispity krunch? An adult spat that resulted in equally adult retorts and the adult banging of pans and pots?

In any case, it unnerved her. They shouldn’t be there. There was no discernible order at all in the mess, not even the hopeful patterns of tea leaves trying to tell a fortune. She would have to expurgate the floor before it interfered with her sleep.

And when she finally got herself into the elevator, a wisp of tissue floated between the glass panels of the elevator doors, trapped in the shaft. It floated together with the elevator, up, up, up to the 6th floor. Like a tiny hijacker, it pressed its nose up against the pane. Wistful, so wistful. It was trapped, certainly, but “trapped” is too negative a word for its situation. Perhaps “left there” would be more accurate. A little wisp of tissue, left there by some juvenile miscreant, stuck in the doors of the elevator for a laugh, was now given the entire kingdom of an elevator shaft. A house that stretched up for thirteen floors. One which even had an elevator! Very posh.

It was the woman who was trapped, outside of the elevator shaft. With all the people. There’s no way to observe the people impartially, no escaping from their jibber jabber. People are messy, they barge into your life, they make chaotic cornflake displays and stick tissue paper into elevator doors. They step on your toes and they make you smile. And some of them make you care too much.

She collected a bowl from her apartment, locked the door, and took it down to collect the cornflakes. She scraped them up with her fingers, all dry and brittle and crunchy feeling. Like Mlle. Poulain, she liked to dip her hands into sacks of grain, feeling their roughness and their smoothness in her palm. After all the cornflakes were gathered up, she set the bowl in a corner for the cats’ dinner. All kinds of cats around the neighbourhood, calicos and tabbies and siameses and persians gathered round the bowl for their high fibre treat. The woman floated amongst their furry, raggedy bodies, coaxing purrs out of them, and forgot that she was alone.