Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Stations of the Breath - Part Two


Continued from Part One

In the 21st century, somebody else's musings can get delivered to your computer without hesitation. 99% of them are no more important than greetings, work updates or anything else you'll forget or simply not need a few hours after their arrival. The other 1% snakes its way into your consciousness and reminds you that sometimes your tabula isn't as rasa as you'd thought.

To wit: Lloyd, formerly of high school and the previously mentioned powdered strawberries. Tall. Then and now. Musician and singer and not a bad actor; his Vladimir to my Estragon in a grade 11 Waiting for Godot scene study is the stuff of legend to a very small crowd (me, in particular). He is also perhaps the finest impersonator of a restless hamster in human form during a theatre improv that the world has ever been seen. These aren't the high points - he's an all-around, standup guy - but this is what first filters through me when I get a message in response to Part One of these postings.

Good to read a new blog. And though I am sure the names were changed to protect the guilty, I have absolutely no idea who you were talking about. Was I there?

For some of it. It'll make more sense as it goes on. And of course names are changed. The guilty need protectin' too.

Are you saying I wasn't there for you?

Never!

Never as in you're not saying that, or never as in I was never there for you? Paranoid suddenly.

You were always there for me, in friendship and the theme to 'Friends' sense of the term. You just weren't there for every aspect of the story I'm telling. You'll recognize when you are though. And it's intensely odd that you're online just now to notice...

Ah. And you were there for me too, la la la la la la la la la, as the song goes. Can you call me Lloyd? I've always wanted to be a Lloyd. 

With two Ls, like that bartender in The Shining?

Lloyd isn't Lloyd. Sue me. A surprise guest appearance he was, although I had been thinking of him when writing the piece. I had actually sent it to Kelly (unimpressed with her nom de plume) since our conversation was the impetus to write it;

Although 'Kelly' is rather pedestrian, I like the piece a lot. Funny how you can 'stop time' or pause a friendship & it's like we've never left. You were so bang on about 'Zoe'- like you said, it never goes away. I lost a lot of friends that year. It is still like a big hole in my heart.

I knew that. It comes up from time to time. Consider Veronica; former Toronto dance student, at present an administrator at a resort in Nova Scotia with husband and kids and thousands of miles chronologically from days gone by. I posted a video clip from a long-ago dance performance from - when? '86? - so she could see herself in the fusion ensemble of music and dance students, everyone with too much hair gel and the appropriate clothes to make you cringe in the here and now.

I loved the clip. I think I saw Zoe in the crowd.

You couldn’t have. It was a grade 12 performance. Zoe was already dead. 

Are you sure? I saw her. 
 
Positive. It was a lot later.

Maybe I was just looking for her.

Maybe something like that.

Zoe is a pseudonym, like the rest. Using her real name doesn’t seem right. The name means ‘life’ in Greek, but I’m not trying to be poetic in using it. I simply don’t know a Zoe and haven’t known a Zoe and the events and the people I’m remembering never involved a Zoe. It’s a name that’s far enough away from everything that’s unpleasant and real that it seems safe.

It’s not poetic, although I’ve always wanted to think and write in those terms. My mother, with Welsh in her blood, always loved A Child’s Christmas in Wales which got me reading Dylan Thomas’ other stories and poetry by the time I was in University. It led me to one of his coldest but his best poems, A Refusal to Mourn the Death, By Fire, of a Child in London. Look it up on your own time; it's about as cheerful as it sounds. But I want to point out that the chill works to its benefit. It isn't a eulogy; sort of the opposite. The core manages to be blunt and respectful without window-dressing. Of the child, he wrote that:

I shall not murder
The mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further elegy of innocence and youth.

It ends with:

After the first death, there is no other.

You don’t need to invent language for such a loss. It’s enough to recognize the event. Your explanation of why it happened or how it might have been stopped or how it isn’t as bad as looks will pale beside the actual circumstance.

Those ‘stations of the breath’ don’t belong to anyone except the victim. The rest of us are observers. The best we can do is to review the occurance and, again, deal with it, choose to ignore it, let it go, or disengage. You can’t alter the truth of what happened. 


Continued in Part Three.





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