Tag Archives: love

the Lennon Wall

Amidst the browns and greys of the old streets of Prague, Czech Republic there lies a secret rebellion of colour. Well, maybe it isn’t so secret, but the twists and turns of the cobbled streets that lead to it make it feel as though no one knows about it, this deliciously clandestine wall, filled with paint and love and Beatles lyrics.

Years of youthful ideals, fearless love and sticky layers of paint all form the kaleidoscope of riotous colour. Love is the answer, all you need is love, love knows no distance or time. White doves and red hearts, peace symbols and outstretched hands. So hopeful, so sure.

We had Styrofoam cups of gluhwein nestled in our gloved hands, and the spicy warmth of the wine seemed to mix somehow with all those colours from the wall, making the cool breezy day suddenly intoxicating and vibrant. I felt like anything was possible, staring up at those bold words.

The Lennon Wall has been a place of freedom and positive expression for decades in Prague, a message of hope and love in the centre of a stricken city, created by rebellious artists, students, intellectuals. It has been painted over several times by the authorities, but within a day or two the messages reappear, and soon the wall is covered once more, a fantastic illustration of the resilience of the human spirit.

Never have I felt so at one with those around me as I did on that day, holding my gluhwein beneath that vivid expanse of bravery and love. I wished that I had a paintbrush too.

excerpt four – a little heavy

At home Annette and Simon are eating dinner, a rare moment of relaxed solitude. It is as though the absence of Alice lightens the atmosphere, changes the feeling in the air, retrofits it with the reminder of the way things used to be.

As though it all never happened. Far from Simons mind are the hospital visits, the smell of plastic wrappers, disposable syringes and the copperish, sickly smell of blood. Annette’s mind has blocked those smells out, as though the threshold was passed back then, when too much had been had.

Whenever she thinks of that time her mind blurs into a hazy indistinction, interspersed with snapshots of little Alice growing older, getting bigger. Getting further away from a normal sibling age.

They never speak of them, the miscarriages. They never did. Only a brief sentence, a deadening of Annette’s eyes, always followed by that resolute statement, we will try again. They tried five times, and five times it failed to take hold, failed to stay in her body, to clutch onto life.

Each time Annette curled further and further in on herself, something like stone creeping through her body, stopping her organs, stopping her heart. She would sit alone for hours, her young healthy body hunched as she watched the world out of the window, the lines etching deeper around her twenty five year old eyes.

Simon tried to reach her. He tried to unthaw her body, using words, using his hands, using anything that he could to shake out some response, some sign of life.

He was broken too, and unable to help. He hated it. He hated watching her, hated seeing the hope in her eyes each time she found out, the terrifyingly hopeful way that she would track its progress, this tiny embryo buried deep in her body, as though her coveting knowledge would save it somehow.

Sex became mechanical, a disgusting process stripped of all its previous delicate intimacies, just another way to make it happen, to create another little baby, a little brother for Alice, always to try again.

It happened after the fifth time, when the fifth baby had been lost, the blood spilled dark and sticky on the carpet. Annette was twenty-six then, and something snapped.

It was as though she had curled too far, gone too deep inside herself, out of reach. Something inside her seemed to realize that it would never happen, and she decided almost stubbornly that they would no longer try. Simon was alerted to this decision by a subtle push, a resigned denying of his trained advances one night.

His body sighed relief, and though he felt a certain loss of the children that would never be, the siblings that Alice would never know, his overwhelming relief for Annette was bigger. He thought that that would be the end, that she would come back to him, in time seeking solace in his arms.

But she never came back. She slipped further and further away, wrapping herself in gym classes, home decorating, wine bottles. Her life became a search for perfection, a never-ending race to be flawless. The flawless, barren mother.

It became harder and harder for Simon to talk to her about it. He could not address this issue that caused her to cry in her sleep, could not comfort her. She would not speak about it, her face freezing if it was brought up, leaving the room as the forbidden tears began to prick at her eyes.

So Simon stopped trying. And soon the years passed, and the heartrending memories were covered in Christmases and forced smiles, P.T.A. meetings and baked cakes, all in an effort to forget, to push it all back under the surface.

But she never came back. She was never the same girl. Something was gone, some warm innocence, some happy expectation that life would be wonderful. She was harsher now, hard around the edges with realism and toned muscle, harrowed by the world.

Her smiles were shorter, her laughs didn’t linger like they used to, and Simon missed her.

cold appraisal

I can’t understand it. Is there love there? Through those aggressive stares and that aloof, cold appraisal, is there any true affection, other than that of a slightly amused, condescending uncle? Any respect, or trust? She smiles and shrugs, conveying nonchalance, unaffected by his tantrums. Is it real? Surely they must affect her on some deeper level, surely in some part of her mind she flees to her room and slams the door, hiding as though from a rampaging father. Why is she there? In my mind, their entire union is a question mark.

just one reason to love this life

It’s in moments like these that I truly adore life. Moments that make me stop and see my surrounding through new eyes, that make me really appreciate where I am. This moment was a night just like any other in this campfire lifestyle, gas stove dinner, lukewarm chocolate mousse, cask red wine. But tonight there was a guitar added. Una is almost 2, and she loves music more than anything. Her little hands tug me to my feet and we are twirling and laughing in the flickering candlelight, the taut strings of the guitar somehow creating the glorious music we dance to. My jar of red wine lies abandoned on the dirt beside my upturned bucket seat, and all I can see as we spin are Una’s white little teeth and bright blue eyes, her face stretched wide in an overjoyed smile. It was in this moment, in this dance that I took a step back, and realized how amazing it all is.

I am high in the Portuguese mountains, dancing with a little Danish girl who dances with the unrestrained vigor of the too young to be embarrassed, listening to Uruguayan lullabies and Jamaican reggae songs. Each song starts differently, the guitar is plucked confidently until a sweet melody is weaving through the air, winding its way around the tealight candles in glass jars that hang from the old olive trees. And it makes me realize, this is all I need.

People want to be millionaires, because they want experiences that they think only millions can buy. I have had many of those experiences, and I plan on having many more. I am only 23, with about five thousand New Zealand dollars and a huge student loan to my name. Anyone can have these experiences. Life is truly beautiful. As the night winds down the music slows, becomes higher and softer, more voices joining in to create smooth harmonies. Una has danced enough, and is swinging in Oli’s arms, mute and mesmerized by candlelight, in the old hammock. Each star is bright above us, and voices between songs are hushed and reverent. I sit quietly with my jar of red wine, so happy for this previously unknown place to which life has brought me.

 

this is what i love

I love writing. I love the feeling of ideas pouring out of my mind, flowing strong and steadily through my nose, through my mouth, even through my very blood down to my fingers, which tap and tap as fast as they can to try and capture some, to get the words down on paper. Sometimes it’s like trying to keep water in your hands, to stop those thoughts flowing away, or like trying to remember a dream that’s just out of reach, reduced to a flurry of colours in the peripheral of your minds eye. This is what I want to do.