vendredi, juin 20, 2008

shoeshine girl

The light is beautiful this morning.

I woke up to the incessant clamour of an unfamiliar alarm, courtesy of having two pints too many and deciding not to cycle home. The owner of the alarm was already in the shower, and, as I groggily stumbled around in borrowed pyjamas trying to source and eliminate the beeping, a shaft of sunshine grazed my cheek and stopped me in my tracks.

This city's been grey for weeks.

I waited for water to boil in a rarely-touched saucepan. My gracious host, leaving for a business trip at 8:30, ran out to pick up drycleaning. The morning was off kilter. There was tea in the cupboard and milk in the fridge but no kettle or teapot. English breakfast steeped in a stein. When my host returned, it was with half a suit: somehow his trousers had been misplaced.

All of a sudden there were not enough minutes to pick out a different suit, iron trousers, decide upon tie, collect papers, shine shoes. Ironing abandonned, I found myself sitting on the kitchen floor, armed with an old toothbrush and a dishrag, shining a pair of well worn shoes.

I can't remember the last time I shined a pair of shoes. I can't remember not knowing how to shine a pair of shoes.

My mind flicked from past to present as though I was looking through a viewmaster. The drawer in the back hall stuffed with plastic bags and rags and pucks of polish in various hues. Flecks of sticky black on white kitchen tiles. My dad's voice reminding me to make sure I really worked the polish into the seams. My host's incredulity at this hitherto unnounced skill.

I've spent this month grasping for my father - simultaneously aching for and terrified of catching a snippet of high resolution memory. I worry about forgetting. I worry that by the time I can revisit all of the days from before two junes ago and still remember to breathe, the memories will have faded from lack of exercise.

There is a vast literature on grief, most of which I have not read. I think I don't want to find, in what is to me a vastly a-typical situation, that all of my feelings are textbook responses. So I don't know which stage I am in. I'm not keeping a "personal journey" journal - other than this oft abandonned forum - nor am I in therapy - though I'm considering it.

Instead I'm hanging on to what I know is true: I can shine a pair of shoes in 3 minutes. The light is beautiful this morning.