The 5th of February is an anniversary I sometimes forget to remember.
I wrote that and the words stared out at me like mercuries, stopping every other thought but without showing me where to go next. Sometimes I think I know why I forget, other times I explore the possibilities and realise I think a lot of things and know very little.
I only know that I don’t know how to make the 5th of February different to all the other days.
Those words up there have formed a solid line, a wall with a very clear instruction that today is different – anniversary; remember something important, a past event that occurred on the same day, commemorate it. I italicised the line to soften its glare. My mind always goes blank when people stare at me.
So I talk to myself. I examine other words, seeing which ones I can carefully place out here because there are things it feels necessary to explain. I’ve had 21 years to choose them, ones that say who she was and why she is a formidable presence in the words I write, and I wanted it to be said. I have this notion that it’s important to say ‘here’s why I keep doing this thing…” which may or may not be about the desire to create an understanding for anyone else. I want to keep discovering who she was, and I can only do that through the things she left behind.
I look for words that keep other things guarded, which also feels necessary. Like the placing of flowers on a stone, which is a solemn symbology that gives a silent gesture the capacity to become a common understanding without letting anyone know how you picked the flowers. No one else knows that they’re tulips because of the day she painted the fence. Here we are then, with wordless languages and secrets I want to keep, yet my catharsis relies on words and I use a space where the world can find them as long as I can let them remain here. It’s not necessary to attempt to combine these things, maybe it’s even a little self-absorbed and gratuitous, but I try because I don’t know origami.
If I did, my thoughts wouldn’t become these words, they’d become boats, dragons, flowers and birds, and I’d let the world carry them wherever it wants to. Not to send them away, but to send them out – there are other places they need to go, things they need to see, before they are resolved in a natural way.
I only want to keep this one word from becoming anything other than what it is… It turns with the tick of a clock counting down to an alarm that never sounds, making sure I always know it’s there, that I know it acknowledges time, but that it never ends.
And for the rest of time I’ll do other things. I’ll write about music.
Only – maybe – that’s only half of what I do. Everyone I have ever known, my family, my friends, the wonderful people who continue to read my words and send me theirs, people who say ‘nice weather today, huh?’ as I pass them in the street, the girl I watched run in the rain from the door of her house to the door of her car as I went past on the bus, anyone who has ever said a word to me, written a song I’ve listened to or had a hand in shaping a thought. My mother. I bring them all here. I fold them up in my words. The page is static, and I can’t make it into the shape of a bird, but they can go anywhere in the world and I can still come back and see them once in a while.
“They say ‘hi’, by the way. ‘We’ve been to Africa and watched the sun melt into the earth. And after the lions roared, we went to Brazil and brought back souveneirs.’ They have a Samba For You”.
She loved that song.
There are a lot of different versions out there – live, extended, updated, adapted, covers… The only one that ever sounds ‘right’ is the one she listened to.
And the word, the one that ticks like a clock, that’s here too. Always unfolded, open. Today it ticks so fast it actually hums, and it comes from all over the world, from me, and from her.