I’ve been reading alot of Strindberg whilst missing you, Beansprouts. Going down Milan’s music stairs – the one I first shared with you about – is absolutely, absolutely cruel! Your messages of turning up in different countries – like various coloured pansies hidden in a summer bouquet – are questioning and make me wish I can luxury bag-pack as you do. I know you have my songs in your mind – I know the little jazz piece that trips up in the corner when you are in one of your desolatory cosy restaurants making new associations. You take off and have been tripping over the world forever. You are living a Kate Atkinson novel. When are you coming back, best friend?
I told you that a passage in a book had reminded me of you. Here it is:
“Even before our visit to the Gardens had come to an end, I’d mentally constructed a ghost train with everything from dangling skeletons to ghosts and monsters. But I’d also positioned a real live man in the middle of my tunnel, a perfectly ordinary man in a hat and coat, who might, for instance, be eating a carrot. I imagined that the people riding the ghost train would give an extra, ear-piercing scream when they suddenly caught sight of a real person in the tunnel.”
Doesn’t it sound like something, something exactly which you would have said? This was Jostein Gaarder, from A Ringmaster’s Daughter (I know I started you on the wrong end with Maya, but Ringmaster’s Daughter was fantastic and a little creepy (Oedipus Rex in the way the protagonist slept with both mother and daughter in Haight-Ashbury sort of events and fell in love with both in their own way). This was a moment in the protagonist’s described childhood with his father when he used to visit the carnival, and how he had already created a carnival in his mind. In a way it sort of means I might be associating you with a brilliant 7-yr old child. Do you want to be a brilliant 7 yr old child? I think you are just the sort who could create a whole carnival in your mind.
Here’s a passage which I think reminded me of me (that’s ambidextrous):
I’ve never had any difficulty telling imagination and reality apart. The problem has always been to distinguish between recalled fantasy and recalled reality. That’s quite another matter. I always knew the difference between what I was actually observing and what I only imagined I was observing. But, gradually, as time went by, separating actual occurrences from experiences I’d made up, could get tricky. My memory hasn’t got special compartments for things I’ve seen and heard and things I’ve simply conjured up. I’ve only got one memory in which to store both the impressions and imaginings of the past: in glorious unity they combine to form what we call recollection. Despite this, I sometimes assume that my memory is failing when I occasionally mix up the two categories. This is an imperfect description at best. When I recollect something as really experienced, that in truth was only a dream, its because my memory is far too good. I’ve always felt it a triumph of memory that I’m capable of recalling events that have only taken place in my own mind.
The more I live here (Singapore) and the more you live there (Hong Kong) and some otherwhere (you often live in Other Wheres) the more I think I am growing confused on what is in my memory and what is made up. It is just like that day when you asked me what I recalled from our second year and they came in bits and drabs (the frayed ends inside old shirts and kept in the sewing boxes) …and they were bits of moments like the red squirrel which ran across my feet in Russell Square and how we walked towards Bloomsbury sharing a box of strawberry pocky. I remember alot of Will…black box black shirt white sheets aluminium light Burberry cologne. I always fancied everything of his, you know. He would be the quintessential person I would have been if I had been born as a guy. I would wear his Burberry cologne (the black charcoal detective version of my current Burberry ladies) and I would still like you. And now my cat just leans over the keyboard and adds a little bit of her to the entry: “oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”.
We began to walk down towards Lake Sognsvann. It felt superfluous to suggest that we spend the rest of the afternoon and evening together. We fizzed, we sparkled, it was as if we were bathing in champagne froth.
Being a civil investigator doesn’t help, I am still one foot into Equalia.
Birthday weekend was incredible – dinner at the Raffles Hotel, best friend and her 23-presents (will recount the significance of each but safe to say they included pregnancy pills, jolly shandy, a photograph frame of a couple doing things, a set of stickers of babies, a mini mini scrabble board (so mini the pieces are 1/9 the size of each keyboard letter tile which is absolutely fabulous, poker cards (for our love of poker)… dinner with the office TOs at Orios (spell?) this gorgeous setting near Somerset 313 at Pan-Pacific Hotel, where the setting looked like an episode out of gossip girl, and the company absolutely swell. Mentor bought me a red bean cheesecake and treated me to linguini with soft shell crab, and told me gossip about his law firm (like the intern sex tape video ha ha!). I had a poppy seed scone (at the end, I told you that), and I am still lusting for the rocket salad again. Still going with lunch later with Mother. I even got serenaded a full japanese rock ballad in Japanese, and he was actually pretty good (also an onyx egg which makes me curious about onyx and legendary myth horses)! J from Russia gave me a rocking vintage Chanel bag. And I got 24 dark red roses…(my favourite flower…kissing the sad memories away). I couldn’t figure out why 24 though you know, though in the end I did surmise that it was a stranger who added the additional rose for my cat to keep her from being jealous. The cat has been good and has not even sniffed a rose.
But many things have been going on, you know, and will gripe to you when you are back.
This is only the tip of what happened. Maybe as I gather the memories, I shall write to you on post-it notes and stuff them all around your wardrobe as I used to.
Some keepsakes from Strindberg (I picked up his essays again, and also re-reading his dream plays, though I keep associating him with Kundera and Chekhov and Kafka and make all these strange suppositions):
Now I know the full power of evil. It makes ugliness seem beautiful and goodness seem ugly and weak. AUGUST STRINDBERG, The Dance of Death
The will … is the driving force of the mind. If it’s injured, the mind falls to pieces. AUGUST STRINDBERG, The Father
Some people have accused my tragedy of being too sad, as though one desired a merry tragedy. People clamor for Enjoyment as though Enjoyment consisted in being foolish. I find enjoyment in the powerful and terrible struggles of life; and the capability of experiencing something, of learning something, gives me pleasure. AUGUST STRINDBERG, quoted in Otto Heller’s Prophets of Dissent
When people drink, they talk, and talk is dangerous! AUGUST STRINDBERG, Miss Julie
The world, life and human beings are only an illusion, a phantom, a dream image.AUGUST STRINDBERG, A Dream Play
In the old days, one married a wife; now one forms a company with a female partner, or moves in to live with a friend. And then one seduces the partner, or defiles the friend. AUGUST STRINDBERG, The Father (I can’t wait to move in with someone and defile the friend! Ha ha! How Sylvia Plath!)