Saturday, April 25, 2009
WHAT HAPPENED TO ME OUTSIDE THE FISHMONGERS IN THE RAIN.
I remember the day it all started very clearly. I’m not entirely sure how old I was, but I still had my tricycle so I cant have been much older than four and a half. It was late summer, the dense, dark clouds threatened to rain and it was eerily silent. Our street was a rather short thoroughfare, connecting two main roads with a surprisingly steep incline at one end, I used to take my tricycle to the top of it and, to my mothers utter horror, go careering down the hill towards the main road at the bottom. On this day there was no one around to play with, so I was indulging in this kamikaze activity on my own, leaving me with a sense of futility for the first time in my life. What is the point of risking life and limb if there isn’t anyone there to applaud your bravery?
So, at this point, having just narrowly escaped fatal impact with a Volvo station wagon, my heart pounding, I stood contemplating this new emotion outside the fishmongers on the corner, knowing that this was a pivotal moment. Looking up at the three story apartment buildings that lined our street, none of the windows lit, it occurred to me that maybe I was actually alone. I don’t mean lonely and I don’t mean lacking in company, but suddenly having the sense of being a singularity. At that juncture a heavy, slate grey cloud started shedding its weight onto suburbia and onto me. Physically unable to move due to my unwelcome epiphany, I stood there with my red and white tricycle in the downpour until my mother came running out of the house, picked me up and carried me inside.
Shortly after I sat in our kitchen dressed in a hooded, brown toweling bathrobe watching my mother make me hot chocolate, everything had altered slightly. In fact, nothing had changed much, but I started looking for meaning in everything, and our kitchen was ugly. It had been decorated in the post-separation period of trauma after my father left, alternating orange and purple, anyone and anything introduced into this environment made the whole room perform the visual equivalent of curdling. I had to ask myself what I was doing there, what happened to me outside the fishmongers in the rain? The world had changed from being unconditionally and unquestionably mine into an encrypted maze of mysteries and it occurred to me that I did not belong here, but if I didn’t belong here, then where did I belong and what or who had put me in this alien place? I was clearly in trouble.
My first conspiracy theory was that my parents were somehow employed by some great inter-galactic force to keep the wool over my eyes and sustain me, so I started spying on them. It was imperative that I did not slip up and reveal that my suspicions regarding my true origins had been aroused, as this may have prompted the powers that were (or still are, for all I know) to terminate the experiment, the experiment that was me. I therefore had to ensure that my questions were carefully phrased and mostly I would observe mum and dad quietly while pretending to do something else. For instance, I was convinced that my mother conducted her inter-stellar communications through the various apparatus in the laundry room and there was definitely something cryptic about my father’s electric typewriter. I would watch them for hours, hoping that they would somehow disclose vital information. My trouble was that I understood hardly anything of what it was they were doing.
So an era of deconstruction ensued, well, attempted deconstruction, what actually occurred was simple destruction. In my quest to find a piece of evidence that would corroborate my suspicions I mutilated a series of toasters, the dishwasher, a typewriter, washing machines, two blenders, an electric piano, etc. I concluded, after about six months of incursion, that the strategy of desecration was futile, as I had no idea what I was looking for and had become increasingly unsure that I would recognise it if I saw it. Although now I had amassed an impressive collection of what I considered questionable objects; tap washers, nuts, bolts, diodes, wires, levers, aggregates, grommets, and so on. So I learned the hard way that deconstructivism ultimately gets you nowhere, as disassociated items are rendered obsolete in their isolation. I had arrived exactly where I started, only a little older with a pile of useless things that somehow seemed to illustrate my own predicament of purposelessness and isolation.
After this period of blundering efforts to reveal some kind of truth, I became certain that my failure was due to over-complication. Without being aware of it I employed what I later came to know as Ockham’s Razor and subsequently opted for basic sensory exploration. I thought that perhaps there were answers to be found in the way strawberries taste, the way the fur on a cats belly smells when it’s sleeping, in the way the evening sun lights the clouds just before it sets, in the way a smooth pebble feels on your skin or in what an electrical storm in the distance sounds like. I enjoyed this line of enquiry so much that I started syn-aestheticise my experiences, deciding, for instance, that the oboe was the sonic equivalent to eating crème brulee.
I started conducting experiments, the results of which I would write down on pieces of scrap paper and leave in drawers, pockets, cupboards, mailboxes and bags anywhere that I went, hoping to get a response. I thought that there might be others marooned in this strange and beautiful place, and maybe if they found my notes, we could join forces and demystify this thing others call reality. No one ever did reply. However, when I cleared the shed of my belongings last year, I found a box of drawings that my mum had saved, amongst them were some of the notes that she had retrieved over the years. On one I had listed, what I perceived to be, my mothers 3 problems; 1. Broken washing machine, 2. Money, 3. PMT. On another I concluded; Almost all vegetables are green, or at least have some green on them, or were once green. When I was six years old my father found me sitting in the kitchen, dressed in underpants only, with a table fork taped to my forehead. I was attempting to intercept hidden messages in radio waves, to no avail. After this incident I knew that I had narrowly escaped an inquisition by my father regarding the nature and purpose of my behaviour and that I probably wouldn’t be able to explain it without inviting further scrutiny. I decided to lie low for a while.
I kept my postulations regarding the nature of reality to myself throughout school and college and didn’t disclose any of my suspicions until I was 22. I still have no idea what I am doing, or why, or how to process most information. What I have discovered however, is that no one else does either.
Or is that just what they want me to believe?
Mia Tagg 2009®