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Archive for the ‘Location: Arts Venue’ Category

Tonight, I think of my younger self with eyes of endurance and focus, eyes wide and credulous. You take a handmade scroll and draw it open. For you, this evening is veiled in a fog of revelries. You tug at the gold ribbon, unwrap the printed paper. You’re reading and I’m by your side marvelling at my own work. I lose my cool though I probably never had it, or felt it once and took it held it watched it vanish again. What I don’t have within me by this age, I choose to lack. And you’re the final stranger.

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I allow myself a little rudeness. You tell me about an event you’ve just seen and I look down at you – you’re small – and say, What? Then louder, WHAT? A writer, you inform me, and very good. I let my mouth open. A yawn? I think it is. Someone pushes past me. I swear at them, or at least mouth the words. Your wife praises the speaker she heard. She’s tall, hunches to hear us. I say, Uh instead of Pardon and roll my eyes. When we say goodbye, I am nice again. A real pleasure to meet you both.

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Floor plans cover the walls, ceiling and sofa. Standing against an open window, you’re shivering yet pleased: All in the name of art. This 1960’s housing estate is condemned, though you don’t know why. This building will be replaced, but you’re not sure what is. This building offers free furniture after 10pm, however you can’t be certain. I take your responses to mean that site-specific creativity in urban spaces does not automatically breed interest in the place. You wear several scarves and hold a walkie-talkie, I try again: You must be cold. You cheer up: Right, right yes I am.

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You serve me with a smile. You really like me. I have fennel tea. For you, every customer has to be reckoned with. There’s solitude at home and then there’s company at work. You’re bewildered by my choice. Do I want milk? I don’t. Do I want tap water? Yes. You want me to stay and talk. You raise your hand and I’m a puppy to your instruction. Stay, stay. I wait and count your tips. Coppers and some silver. My drinks are here. You ask me with your eyes, Why not stay? Have a heart. Why not just stay?

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You hand me an envelope with a cheque I can’t accept. For such a public transaction, we show no awkwardness. Life, which can seem so effortless and repetitive, is really a marvellously complex sequence of exchanges with people you know and can reassure you, and those who are strangers and cannot. You are so interested in me, and the way I articulate my thoughts. I use flamboyant hand gestures, suck on my glass of juice, tell you my ideas on transformationn. We think life carries on elsewhere but where we are, right here, is the very centre of the universe.

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Your fingers grip the edges of the staircase where we stand. I nod reassuringly to you, and your look is relief or even reprieve. She’s playing a sonata, your daughter and she’s nervous. A freckled and tiny person, just a schoolgirl uncomfortable in oversized casual clothes, out of uniform. The music is soothing, clear, light, the room quiet just for her and the piano. She finishes and you applaud and you wave, and you daughter stands, looks out into the audience and raises her hand to a sturdy woman in the second row. It’s the wrong mother but close enough.

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We’re late but you are patient enough to smile us to our seats. If you had time, I’d ask you about what we missed so we could decide if our morning was lost for reason enough. I’d say that you are one of those people who are fine and a thinker, or generous and a good friend. In my memory, you are wearing a suit. I think you had a bow tie and held a photograph of your mother, but perhaps it wasn’t of her. A woman in the front row swigs brandy and creases her programme between her palms.

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