My first car

I married Kristina when I was 24 and we bought a green Opel of some sort for about £300. The guy who sold it only promised that it would last the year, but we were poor and needed to go places. The gear shift constantly rattled and the engine stopped every time I turned right. It was extremely annoying, but we actually loved that it was so quaint – it meant that we always had some funny story to tell others about our car. I love the memories of the trips we took back then, when one of us had to constantly keep a hand on the gear to keep the noise down and I had to carefully plan my right turns. Turning right to go uphill was never really an option. But sometimes we had to. Great fun and lots of stories.

Friendly fire

I do not fear to fight
even a thousand devils
on a battlefield.
It’s my aim
that worries me.
Stand close!

The photo booth

There is a photograph of me and the girls taken in a photo booth. It’s from one of our countless in-the-spur-of-the-moment things. Looking at the photograph, I would say that they were around the ages of 3, 5 and 7. We were wasting time at a shopping centre. We never had money to spend back then, but we went there anyway just for the fun of it. When we had had our fun and we were on our way back to the car underground, I happened to spot a photo booth. I had enough money on me for us to use the booth, so I asked the girls if they wanted to go along with the idea. Caroline shouted, “yes!” Emily said, “what do you mean?” and Sarah, in her usual manner, had not heard a word of what I said, since she was still by the escalator wanting to ride it again. We all gathered in front of the booth and looked at the different examples of photographs on the side of the booth. I told them how it worked and what was going to happen once we were inside.

A photograph from a photo booth session with my girls.

Me, Emily, Sarah and Caroline

I don’t know if you have ever been inside a photo booth, but it is a very small compartment made for one person – and barely so. I went in, lowered the seat as far down as it would go and told the girls to come in. I had Emily, the oldest, sit on my right knee; I had Caroline sit on my left knee, and finally Sarah scrambled in and placed herself in front of us. In those days you didn’t just get one picture reprinted four times on the same sheet, but four actual photographs printed on one sheet. Not one, but four really bright flashes.

The picture that I kept for myself shows an unshaved me in the back smiling, half a face of a girl on my right knee putting candy in her mouth, half a face of another girl doing her best to be seen by the camera by pushing her little sister’s head to the side, and then another little girl in the front wondering why there is a hand on the side of her face, only moments before she says, “Caro, stop pushing me!”

Each one of us has one unique photograph from that event that took place between four flashes on that day so many years ago.

The Thing-Finder

This piece is about a young woman who tells a story from her childhood. I am not sure about the grammar or the use of some of the words, and I have not bothered to revise it, but since I like it, I am posting it anyway. For now, only the story is important.

“I used to find things for my father. You know, like a treasure hunter, but without a mission. He called me The Thing-Finder. I found many things for him over my childhood years and he was proud of me and always let me know how thankful he was for it. Often it was things that he’d lost somewhere, or that he’d forgotten about. Other times it was new things; things that roused his curiosity. Those times we would sit and wonder what it was for, or used to be and how we could use it for something.

Once, when we were out walking and chatting our way through the city streets on an early Sunday morning – having sneaked out before the others had awakened – he said that it would have been nice if we had some money for a cup of tea somewhere. In the middle of his sentence I had spotted something on the pavement a few feet away from us. I dived off in the direction of it, grabbed it, and came back to him, holding my hand up to him showing a £5 note. He laughed with joy, but told me that I could do anything I wanted with it; it did not have to be used for tea. We had tea. And it was a particularly excellent Sunday morning.”

Ghost town misadventures

It was back in ’75 or ’76. The whole neighbourhood seemed like one of those ghost towns from the western films on TV and our normally creative minds had run as dry as the air around us. Breathing that day was exhausting business to anyone. Only the birds were lucky enough to breathe air that didn’t feel like sawdust on fire. The four of us wandered around in the void, aimlessly kicking stones and empty soda cans in front of us until we came to the road by the school. We sat down in the ditch and spied on the few cars that passed by. One of us, I forget who, started rolling marbles in front of the approaching cars, when suddenly one marble bounced up and crashed into the window shield of one of the cars. The air filled with cracking glass, screeching terror, and four deer-like children vanishing through the bushes.

Before I was out of the bushes, the twins and Toby were gone. Heart pounding. Adrenalin, but no air and no legs. A growling ogre in the bushes behind me. I stopped dead in my tracks in front of a small house with a garden by the road. No longer a deer, but a fox, I shed my T-shirt behind the low stone wall, sat down pretending to be as bored as before. Out of the bushes, the ogre charged towards me, stopped and asked if I had seen some boys running this way. I looked him straight in the eyes and told him that I hadn’t. He continued his hunt. Life and all the air returned like the first day of spring. I collected my T-shirt, rolled it up like a ball, put it in my pocket, and slowly walked towards home. I felt like a Sherlock Holmes version of quick-drawing Kid Curry from Alias Smith & Jones.

That helium feeling

I started to write on a new short story tonight. I was just about to go to bed after having seen a lovely film, when I realised that the film was telling me about my own life (or certain parts of it) and I just had to write down a few words that came into my mind. I do that a lot just in case I can use it in my writing later on. This time I wrote almost 4000 words in less than 45 minutes. My fingers actually hurt and my eyes won’t let me keep going, but it’s a good feeling, and, as a friend of mine wrote today, “[that] helium feeling that appears when [it] is written” is fantastic!

Adagio

I live in the City of Winds. This morning it’s the City of Cold Winds. No snow yet, though.

After all the work last night (went on to midnight) and after having had my morning bath to the gentle tunes of Albinoni, I feel quite pleased with myself.

Now, off to work.

Pressurized

Trying to make me do or say things I do not want to do or say is not OK. Not even by a long-shot. To quote Lewis Black, “…that puts a lot of pressure on me… and I don’t respond well to pressure.”

Last year ended well, however. 2011 had its ups and downs, but all in all I had a great year. I’m very thankful for that. This year can only get better.