house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

44 days, 15

Today: you send a message, 'I wonder how the plum tree is'. I look at the plum tree and search for words. Then I realise I don't need any words. I take a picture of the plum tree in its full glorious bloom. I send it to you with a small caption. A few seconds later I see your reaction ('Wow'). This is heady stuff. I take more pictures and send them. Baby figs on young branches. A lemon smaller than my thumbnail. The broad beans I planted, now up to my knee. ('Wow, wow, wow!)

Nine years ago (when you were in Liberia): you send an email, when you have a connection, when you have power, when you have time. I plug in the computer, late at night, when Kira (2 years old) is asleep. I spend ages writing a reply on my laptop, then cut and paste it into a message to you. Next time you have a connection, a plug and 5 minutes, you will see it. We'll go from there.

Nineteen years ago (when you were in Bosnia, I in Croatia): 'Echo Alpha 1, this is Echo Alpha 3, do you copy, over?' 'Copy 2 out of 5, move to channel 12, I repeat: Echo Alpha 3 move to channel 12 over..' 'Copy loud and clear'. 'Echo Alpha 1, what is your ETA at base?' etc.

Twenty one years ago (I in Romania, you everywhere): white paper on my desk, I pick up a pen. I start and end my letters in the middle of sentences, because this way it feels you're just next door and we're just in the middle of a conversation. I'll take it to the post office in the morning, which is a bit of a bother, because of the queues, the dusty, dusky air, the old clerks. Also because I hate leaving the letter in their hands, so completely in their power, so completely out of mine. Also because it will take weeks to reach you, and more weeks for your reply to reach me. When I actually get a letter, I am overwhelmed by such happiness it threatens to flatten me like an overfriendly mastiff.

Twenty two years ago (both in Romania, in different corners of the country): spend hours composing short, cryptic and glorious messages, count letters, start again. Walk into the dusty, dusky post office for an act of such bravery my shoulders shake. I am going to do more than hand in a closed letter: I am going to recite my innermost thoughts letter by letter, to a dusty, dusky woman with a short temper. My heart at her fingertips. Then the telegram would go and I'd sigh with incalculable relief. Sometimes the postman would be waiting, at home: 'Miss, you have a telegram!' and the overfriendly mastiff would pounce again.

Ten years from now: you think 'I wonder how Monica is'; you instantly get an image of me sitting at a desk writing / in a workshop making a little mosaic out of broken plates ('hey, that was my favourite' you think and 'Sorry', my voice whispers in your ear) / or in Wellies gardening, then turning to look straight at you and showing you a small watermelon. The picture is very good, not fuzzy or sepia tinted, the voice is clear, I am with you for as long as you think of me.


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