Tuesday, 1 December 2009

I don't know your name, but it's a pleasure to meet you

It’s raining. I’m wearing the only pants in my suitcase for the fifth consecutive day. (That’s what happens when you pack expecting only sunny weather and in return you encounter rainy & windy days.) The wind is against me and I’m crying... no, it’s raining. The bicycle is the only way to get to town and I have to just bite it through. I’ve grown accustomed to the drops against my face & the sound of the bicycle wheels singing as it lashes through the puddles to town.

I appreciate the quiet way it talks to me - the rain, the bicycle, the rustle of aromatic fynbos in an ocean breeze, the omnipresent mountain... I just want to stay here, but I can’t, the bus leaves tomorrow. Let’s not say goodbye. Let’s just pretend I don’t have to. Sing to me.

This will be my last roundabout to town, so I will bear the rain once more. In a quiet side street I ride past an antique shop and decide to stop and have a peek. Antique shops are like commercial museums and the concept itself is a paradox to me.

It’s a nice one. They sell old fashioned sweets, most of which I remember (which is a little disconcerting). Inbetween the weather-beaten cutlery slicing through a thousand meals and the mothball smell in the clothing rack I always seem to seek the box with the forgotten photographs.

Who throws away a photograph? How do they depart from it? Essentially it is one of the modern methods of proof of your heritage and thus existence.

But there’s always a box. Hundreds of blank faces staring through at you. Who did you belong to? Who missed you when you left? Who kept this photograph next to their chest and who discarded it?

My one friend reckons it’s a great way to forget the old boyfriend - by destroying all the photo’s of her and the boy together. Burning a photo feels like murder to me. Even though it’s a copy of the real deal, it’s still a reference to that person. And once you think of it in a post-modern way (which states that everything is essentially an echo of another echo) then that photo is him - or more precisely what’s left of him. How could you burn someone you professed to love?

Or maybe it’s because the story of the tin soldier is one of my favourite tales - even though the scene where he and the ballerina die in the fire at the end haunts me still. Inherently, they were flammable beings (paper & tin - which comes too close to the little versions of us on photos).

The retail value of such photo’s aren’t very high. It will never top the crystal vase in the china section. Who even buys someone else’s photo’s? It’s like buying their memories, right? Or is it saving it? Isn’t that a little strange? But I like strange and this girl with the forlorn look seem too lonely to leave lying here. She seems like a girl I’ve met. Maybe it is a girl I have met’s great grandmother. Who knows. She hails from Worcester. I know people from there. She went to the studio to have her picture taken to give to someone to remember her by. By now someone has forgotten.

Photos are important to us, because we don’t want to forget, but more importantly, we don’t want to be forgotten (which is actually our fate - we are all destined to die, even the memory of us). Photos seem to be the attempt to combat that.

Her price is 20 cents, the same as the toffees on the top shelf. But I am sure your value exeeds the 20 cents. You may come with me and live on my bedside table. I will make a new memory of you...
We still need to leave, but we don’t have to say goodbye.