Monday, 30 January 2012

Something I remember # 3

I have only one retrievable memory of being a baby.  I was sitting on the floor in the kitchen at Colebrook. My vantage point was shin height.  The legs of the table and chairs were the jungle through which I would crawl.  The old patterned linoleum stretched out before me with its intersecting yellowed lines of red and green.*  For years this floor functioned as a giant grid of roads, highways and overpasses on which my sister and I would drive matchbox cars and build Lego houses.
On the other side of the room, was an object that captured my interest.  I do not recall what this object was but I was intent on getting my hands on it.
 I had only recently learned how to walk and I remember asking my one year old self, if I should walk or crawl across the room to get to this object. I decided to crawl. I knew that I would get there quicker in this way, without the interruption of losing my balance and falling over.
What interests me about this memory is that though I may have had a few words in my vocabulary  at this time, I would have been largely pre-verbal.  I would not have been able to vocalise this brief internal dialogue. But I was able to think about it and make a decision based on a knowledge of my own strengths and weaknesses in the area of perambulation.

* Years later my sister and I had both, at different times, visited the house and almost wept when we discovered that the lino had been replaced with a bland timber veneer and the door jamb where our heights had been measured, had been repainted.
And now, as I scroll through hundreds of google images of 1950’s linoleum, I find my heart beating a little faster at the prospect of perhaps finding that familiar pattern (no luck).

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Something I Remember # 2

When I was about 13 years old, my mother took my sister and I to see Franco Zeffirelli's film, La Traviata.  It was screening at The State Theatre in Sydney,  a magnificent heritage venue.  The interior decor is styled with a resplendent mash up of Baroque, Gothic and Deco.  Massive chandeliers, red velvet drapes, intricate floor tiles, a piano that rises from the stage and severely uncomfortable seats.  The whole place has a magic, golden ambience. It was the perfect venue to watch La Traviata.

An old Italian man was sitting next to us.  At some point during the film, my mother surreptitiously drew my attention to him.  He had tears quietly drenching his cheeks as he mouthed the words of the arias. 
When the movie had ended my mother spoke to him in Italian and they shared their delight in the wonder and beauty of it all.
As we walked back to the car, we were all in our own private little Traviata worlds.  The lights and sounds of the city felt like an assault after the magic of that darkened theatre.  None of us spoke for some time. All of us wanting to keep our own experience and sensations intact. To savour without interruption.
My mother seemed so graceful with her sleek black hair and her understanding of art and beauty.
Something of my Italian heritage was  revealed to me that night and I think it was the first time that I experienced the emotional intensity that opera can invoke.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Something I remember #1

Something I remember #1

Late at some dinner party with my parents.  Incomprehensible adults talking, loud and vibrant with alcohol.  A table with half cleared plates, bottles and half drunk glasses.  Ashtrays, spiraling cigarette smoke and  hands gesticulating in conversation. Drawings on napkins, bread sticks and the scraping of chairs.  Ravi Shankar and Van Morrison.
My eyelids weighted with the longing to slumber, I laid my head on my mothers lap, beneath the table.  The sounds above coming and going, finally fading, as sleep descended.
Later, being woken by my mother.

Time to go now darling..

Being picked up and carried to the car by my father.  My head hanging over his shoulder.  Cradled in his strong safe arms. 
The cool outside air on my face, being laid down in the back of the green Valiant (no seat belts).
Half awake, but more asleep, watching the dreamlike passing of trees, buildings and street lights through the car window.  The magical late night silence of the city.
Finally, I remember the blessed moment of being inserted between the sheets of my bed.  Having the blankets tucked in around me and a gentle kiss on the forehead.  

Is this the most beautiful kiss of all?

Sweet dreams, my angel
Good night mummy


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