I don’t understand

It was a simple question. 

“How do you feel today, Sweetie?” My Mother asked, as I came downstairs.

I hesitated, searching for the right word.

She waited patiently, as she’d been all week. 

There are things about myself I’ve taken pride in, such as physical health, creativity, and learned (well, maybe forced) patience. Most of all though, throughout my life, my wit has given me the most pride. Being called “witty” is a compliment I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy on many occasions. Conversation is important to me. Looks fade, as we all eventually realize, but having a sharp mind, being able to converse…intellectualism: that’s the good stuff in life. 

I’m not so sharp these last weeks. My mind is a dull knife, a cracked egg, and I struggle for words. They’re in there somewhere, but it’s as if they’re stuck in a honey pot and I have to fish through the stickiness to retrieve them. Writing these few words takes hours.

“I’m OK,” I respond. Easy answer.

She’s been here since the accident. Since the man pulling the big trailer with his big truck plowed into my little Volvo on the freeway. Since my “bell was rung” and my brain slowed and filled with thick honey. 

In the ambulance I wanted to close my eyes and sleep, but they wouldn’t let me. It seemed there were countless questions, some that were easy to understand and some that were alien. I couldn’t see the paperwork I was to sign through my blurry eyes, so they pointed and I scribbled something with my shaking hand. 

The pain in my head raged on.

Police officers, doctors, firefighters, and family wanted to know what happened. I tried to describe events, pains…but where were all of my words? And why couldn’t I simply sleep?

My mother fixes me plain yogurt with fresh fruit, and I eat a little bit. She tells me I should eat more. Afterward I go to shower to soak my sore, bruised body in the warm water hoping it will relax my muscles and help with the pain. 

In the shower I struggle remembering if I’d washed my body already. I can’t tilt my head back properly to wash my hair through the pain. All this brings me to cry and my head to pound even more. 

I’m told it will get better, and it does…slowly. Days turn into a month and so on. I try to sleep, rest as the tell me to, struggle through writing little bits at a time, and read. But mostly…I wait. 

 

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Romanticism, a photograph

“Romanticism is a philosophy of intuitive agreement. In real love, there is no need tiresomely to articulate or spell things out. When two people belong together, there is simply – at long last – a wondrous reciprocal feeling that both parties see the world in precisely the same way.”
– Alain de Botton

Seelenerwandte

“To love is easy and therefore common – but to understand – how rare it is!”
-L.M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon

The Germans call it seelenerwandte, the Italians, anima gemella, and the Americans kindred spirits. 

She gave me a warm hug, then looked me in the eyes and told me that although we were only just meeting in person, she felt as though we had known each other for a very long time. The next week would prove that yes indeed, she and I were kindred spirits. Woman who although very different in cultural upbringing, held inside of us the feeling we had known each other a very long time – a commonality of the heart which cannot be described. 

Kindred spirits mirror one another, and without ego. 

It’s nice when you meet a friend like that. And also very rare. I have a number of friends, yet only one or two I feel a kindred spirt. It isn’t something that grows either. It’s something that simply exists from the moment you meet a person. No matter your differences.

Sometimes the kindred spirt is a dear friend like Sonngard, and occasionally the seelenerwandte is much more. 

———

Knowing I have a great love of architecture, she guided me through MedienHafen in Dusseldorf. We spoke of artists, writers, architecture. Of course we appreciated the same things, however different our views of them were. 

Ahead of us, holding hands, were our children. They themselves finding an anima gemella in one another.

“I feel so much pain for them,” she whispered to me. 

“Me too.”

They had met the last year while her daughter was studying abroad. She and her husband had both done so and wanted the same for their children. My son had dated many girls, and had even claimed to love one or two of them, but when he brought the German home, even though I liked her immediately, I wondered how they’d get along. She was different than the others he’d brought home. They interacted differently too. She challenged him, and he her. Challenged in a good, healthy, loving way. 

She spent many evenings with us and I had a chance to get to know her well. Many times she would talk of her mother and how alike we were. We had already made plans to holiday at the beach in Italy before he leaves for university, so when an invitation came from her parents to make a stop in Germany we accepted.

Being very practical and thinking only with their heads, they agreed they would not try to have a long distance relationship and that they would go their separate ways after the visit. 

“This is uncommon you know – how they get along and balance one another. So sad they live far away and are so young yet. They think only with the head now, but the heart doesn’t work that way. We know this.” 

I thought for a moment before responding. 

“It’s like that, isn’t it Sonngard?  They feel as though they have no time. They’re too young and impatient to understand the years in front of them. Although, maybe the pain is the same when you are old…but for a different reason. When you’re young you don’t understand that there is still time left in this life, and when you are older, you are so keen on just how little time there is left. The pain is the same.” 

As a parent you wish for your children to never feel pain. But they will. You wish to take all the pain from them. But we can’t. 

When we hugged goodby at the airport both of us knew it wasn’t really goodbye. We were old enough to understand how rare a connection like ours was and so vowed to keep it. We’ll visit, talk, etc.

We stepped aside and let our confused children embrace and say goodbye.

Water without sounds, A photograph of fine art.

Below is a photograph of Katsura Finakoshi’s painted camphor wood and marble sculpture “Water without Sounds.” It can be found at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany.  Mr. Finakoshi deserves more exposure as an artist than he is given.

“If there were a little more silence, if we all kept quiet…maybe we could understand something.” – Federico Fellini

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New Website, New Book – jenniferallison.co

Please note that I have a new Portfolio website – You can find my travel photographs, as well as paintings and sketches, at jenniferallison.co

I will continue to keep One Street Shy as a place for snapshots, essays, poems, and links to my Portfolio page.

My book, Roam: Essays and Photographs on Travel, will be hitting the shelves in mid-2019 (as soon as my Publicist says so at least…)

Thank you for following my work all these years. I appreciate you.

 

Hazy shade of winter, a photograph

Ahhh, seasons change with the scenery
Weaving time in a tapestry
Won’t you stop and remember me
But look around, leaves are brown now
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter
Look around, leaves are brown
There’s a patch of snow on the ground…
-Simon and Garfunkel

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One’s entire life, a photograph

“How concrete everything becomes in the world of the spirit when an object, a mere door, can give images of hesitation, temptation, desire, security, welcome and respect. If one were to give an account of all the doors one has closed and opened, of all the doors one would like to re-open, one would have to tell the story of one’s entire life.”
– Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space 

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The dog, a photograph

“A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time. When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, The one I feed the most.”
– Geroge Bernard Shaw

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Work, a photograph

“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.”
― Leo Tolstoy

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