Similes, first time I hear that word- well, it’s obviously somewhat familiar, similar to similar, ha. Still, I look it up on Wikipedia, to be sure to be sure, as they say. It might be a false friend, or something like that. Or one of those words that you look up again and again, because the exact meaning just doesn’t stick in your head. Or something you have been using for years and always with a slightly different meaning than it actually has, as you find out when you look it up in the dictionary.
Like “standoffish”, I always thought that meant “abrasive”.
Or you pronounce them wrongly, another option. Conservative was one of those for me, I said conservative instead, for years and years, sorry, v, but no one even noticed. Or bothered to tell me.
Christmas, another one, this time in writing- spelt it wrongly, for ever. The h after the t rather than the c. At some point I noticed and found it hadn’t actually carved itself that deeply into my brain furrows. I would have thought something would be “hardwired” after years of usage, with the synapses, neuronal connections, and all that, creating memories.
I hear this a lot these days when people talk about a venture that has failed.
At least it was an experience, you created a memory.
Is this a new strategy that helps coping with disappointment or change?
I had a book as a child about a mouse that only collected colours when all other mice collected food for the winter. The other mice tell her off for being lazy. But in the end, she is the one saving the day when all food has been used up, all mice sit huddled together losing hope, and then that mouse tells a colourful story, with the colours he collected. He has earned the right to be there, the justification that the others shared their food with her. But the story ends there, we don’t know what will happen when the "lights go out" - all mice die I suppose.
That might have been around Christmas, in winter. Christmas with h after c.
But now I actually can’t not know. And from time to time I still write it the wrong way, consciously, and half ashamed. It’s somehow a remnant of a time when I was innocent. Just that’s it not, I have to fake it. There are no remains left of that time. What a thought. Can that be true?
Similes, again. Like a remnant. White as a sheet, red like a rose, he slept like a log and remained as cool as a cucumber. Like a caged animal.
Everything always must be like something else, it seems. We can’t explain it otherwise.
But what if you knew no sheets, no cucumbers.
Or these things are not the same in your native tongue? And then maybe you confuse them, your tongues, your thoughts, your different selves, the Irish self, the German self, the village self, the city self. White as a wall it is then, or stupid as bread, white as bread and stupid as a wall.
Or what if language has left you. In a nursing home I once worked lived a woman with Dementia. She had a single room, she must have had money. She had only one word left. That is not unusual, only one word then for everything- the ultimate simile.
Another woman I knew with the same condition, hers was “wonderful”. She shrieked “Wonderful! Wonderful!” when she was scared.
But this woman’s word, the woman in the single room. I have forgotten what hers was. Something profane, an everyday object, I think. Like “plate” or “coffee machine”. Can that be true?
But she played accordion, she remembered how to do it.
Nursing homes. My father died in a nursing home. The funeral was on the 16th of December 2017. I read an article yesterday, that Google stores all the locations you have been at for the last decade. There was a link in the article to check your own location history and I clicked on it. I picked 2017, it was kind of the first option. Only two locations, what a poor record, digitally and personally. But hang on, what a about that day? You can also choose individual days. 16th September 2017. No entry. No dot on the map.
Instead the map blurred as if in rotation, as if spinning a globe to pick your next holiday destination at random and came to a halt in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, slightly more to the left, towards Australia. On the right, further away, the Eastern coastline of South America.
Once I was in her room, the woman with the one word, we sat at the table. She had played the accordion and looked at me.
Then she sat it down, the accordion, looked at me again and then, suddenly, reached out her hand and touched my breast. She scaled it with her hand, briefly. And a tear was running down her cheek.
What is the simile to that?
The breast felt like. Jelly? Her youth? My youth? A foreign country. Like in “the past is a foreign country”?
A stone in my throat?
A promise? A memory?
A bullet in the head?