but I’ll pretend it is so that you can understand who’s writing. Just imagine: you’re googling for some information and you end up visiting a blog that describes the story of your family. I jumped on my chair, I swear. Of course, the names were changed but after I had read a few lines I was able to understand who “Indigo Eyebrow” was.
I’ve known Indigo for some time. He used to tutor my daughter. I know he was extremely fond of her and she, well, she simply adored him. And when things started falling apart he was there, there for her, there for me. So I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I first read the blog. I couldn’t believe such a kind, caring person would write something so personal on a blog everybody can read. Besides, he had never mentioned the blog even if we are still in contact ( though I have to admit I don’t call him as much as I used to).
I picked up the phone and called him right away, without even considering he may be asleep because he lives in a different time zone now. He seemed pleased to hear my voice ( I suppose I didn’t wake him up).
I told him I thought he was a terrible human being and that he had no respect for people. He was initially taken aback because he hadn’t considered the possibility of me or “David” finding his blog. Then he told me the reasons he had started writing this blog. I fell silent. Even though I was still unpersuaded I was listening intently. When he had finished explaining I told me I would think about the whole blog thing and that I didn’t want him to write a single word until David and I had properly discussed the thing and decided to authorise him.
David and I have decided that, as sad as it can be, we want our daughter’s story to be written and known. I’ve told Indigo I’d like to write some of its parts myself and he agreed. I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing at all, but parents often make mistakes. I guess trying to do one’s best is what counts at the end of the day.
I like driving and listening to the radio, so that I can be acoustically isolated from the rest of the world. But when I got home that day I realised I had driven in perfect silence without even noticing. David ans Linda’s story was simply amazing. And yet I could not deny that, even in the incredible circumstances under which their family had formed, it displayed very common dynamics.
Obviously things had been different for David and Linda. He had fallen in love as soon as he had seen her. Linda seemed to have mixed feelings for David. She knew he was younger but he had lied to her, so she thought he was 19 (even now, I thought, David looked a little older. I had thought he might be 36 whereas he was only 32). She was protective of him but also liked the fact that David was very protective of her, too. She seemed to be attracted as well as slightly scared of his mood swings, ranging from boredom and apathy to rage and hyper activism. She tried to understand him but it was not easy because David himself couldn’t.
Linda made David realise how messy his life was. His life and his art. He had convinced his mother to let him quit school. His life could have been complete anarchy. But Linda had helped him discipline himself and his work. She believed in technique as well as emotion. David was pure instinct, but had learned to appreciate formal control.
As it always happens, those differences which had ended up being fatal for their couple had showed up at the beginning of their relationship. The day he moved to start a new life in Portland David casted a last look on the house which had contained his hopes and dreams as well as his family, put a suitcase in the trunk of his car and wondered how it was possible that he had forgotten he had admired Linda for precisely the things he was separating from her.
He remember it was Linda who had first encouraged him to write poems. Through them he had finally been able to manage his anger and had discovered that there’s nothing as powerful and terrible as controlled rage. He had started writing tentatively, just to make Linda admire him, but had discovered that writing could be as absorbing, liberating and therapeutic as painting. Words were streets to him. And rails, hot rails in the sun taking him back to a familiar place as well as promising new destinations. He would taste them slowly, sucking them as liquorice sticks. He would throw them, not caring about where they would land twirling like ribbons. Sometimes they felt like light stones and it was not difficult to give them wings. Sometimes he had to struggle with the accents and metrics but then his words would seem to have been purified by his efforts and the formal framework he had inserted them into.
Being with Linda, understanding her, felt easy and difficult at the same time. She seemed to enjoy talking about artistic creation as well as he did. She liked giving David reading suggestions. One day she mentioned John Milton; David had never heard of him but he didn’t want Linda to know, so he went to the public library and borrowed The Paradise Lost.
He had no idea that this poem would change his life.
David was a born storyteller. He had never met his father nor had he wanted to. But he was an angry kid. He lived with his mother in the suburbs of Montreal, hated going to school and spent most of his awake time painting. He despised equally his teachers and schoolmates. The former feared him and he gave them reason to. He was sharp-witted as well as sharp-tongued. He also made no mystery of the fact he didn’t like the people of his age. He had nothing to do with them.
His mother was very worried and had tried to convince him to see a psychologist but he rather talk to their neighbor, a retired primary school teacher well into her eighties, than to a shrink. Melanie (that was her name) was a very cynical lady, she always told things as they were, no matter how hurtful they might be. No one was closer to David than she was, in spite of her age. He adored her, and she had told him she firmly believed in his talent.
He had refused to attend her funeral. All he could feel was dumb anger. Melanie was pretty old and he should have been prepared. And yet. Melanie herself had often spoken about her death. She knew her health was not so good as it used to be and she wanted to be ready. David thought she was the bravest lady in the world. He thought if someone could be ready to accept their own death that person was Melanie. And yet.
He had decided to play nasty jokes on the new neighbors. Just for fun. He didn’t know what to do now. He was bored out of his skull. He was down. He didn’t even feel like painting anymore. The day the moving van arrived, David was ready. After the new neighbors had settled he would enter their garden with a bucket full of paint and write a big “Welcome” on their back door. It was simply genial. No one could have accused him of not being a friendly neighbor.
Everything was ready. He had skipped school and gone back home. His mother was at work so he could take his time to make sure everything was perfect. The house next to theirs was deserted, immersed in silence, unaware. He put on his old trainers, picked up the bucket and went out. The sun was slowly reaching its zenith. He had climbed that fence so many times before he could manage climbing it with the bucket. The back garden was full of empty boxes and garbage, he had to be very careful not to make noise. He walked very slowly and took minutes to reach the door. When he thought he was close enough he put the bucket down and searched for the brush in his pockets. There it was. Now he just needed to dip it in the bucket and…
The back door opened all of a sudden. A skinny girl in her early twenties appeared and yelled:
What the f* are you doing?
For David it was love at first sight.
I knew Dolores wouldn’t approve my decision to have a child coming regularly to the apartment. Ours was like a marriage; she had started working for me right after my wife had moved out, and, as I liked saying, I had found myself committed to this very valuable lady of Irish origins. Every day she took care of my apartment, watered my plants, and cooked my meals. To her that meant she was entitled to control my diet. I found that annoying at that time but I have to admit that, if it hadn’t been for her, I would have probably followed the recently separated man’s diet, i.e. junk food at breakfast, junk food at lunch, and junk food at dinner.
Ours had also been an encounter of two solitary planets. Widowed at an early age, Dolores had raised four children all by herself. Now all of them had moved away from Portland, and, even though they would phone her very often (the girl who was studying at UCLA called her daily), she had started feeling her house was too big and empty, so she had looked for a job that would take her outside it for most of her day. And she had found me, a lonely university professor in love with the stars, only partially aware of having a body that needed feeding and resting when deeply involved in research. I was all she needed and she was all I needed too.
I knew she would make a big fuss about having Gwendolyn coming to my place regularly but I was also sure she would fall in love with the child as soon as she met her. Things went as I had foreseen: when I told her I was going to tutor a girl who would come to the apartment every day she looked at me in disbelief. She said she was worried I was going to embark on something I would quickly regret but the expression on her face meant You are going to embark on something I will quickly regret. Don’t you like having a perfectly polished floor under your expensive shoes? This apartment was intended to be for adults only.
I declared I was feeling like having a drink before going to lunch with David and asked if she would like to have an aperitif too. As I was pouring a little sherry in her glass I told her I knew our routine practically perfect and a girl would certainly make things different, but I was also convinced a slight change (I tried to emphasize the adjective) would make us good. She didn’t look too persuaded so there was nothing left for me to do except drain my whiskey and leave.
As I was parking in front of the restaurant where I had agreed to meet David I realized I was a little drunk. I oughtn’t to have drunk so early in the day, but I had felt a little embarassed with Dolores and I knew she enjoyed our alcoholic breaks from work as I did so I thought it could have been a good idea. Now I knew it hadn’t been. My head was gently spinning as I was making my way in the restaurant. It was a place average students couldn’t afford, so it was empty with the exception of a group of Chinese students giggling in the table next to the one where David was sitting waiting for me.
After I had apologized for being late and asked how he was we were both quiet for a minute, studying the menu. After a fake-tanned waitress had taken our orders I asked David what was new. He cleared his throat and said:
- Well, it seems Jett is dating someone. I don’t mean he has a special friend or something like that, I mean he goes to the movie with her, holds her hand in public, practises French kissing and hopefully nothing else….how old does that make me??
- He’s 15, it’s pretty normal he’s got a real date, don’t you think?
-I know, it’s just they grow up so quickly. Yesterday we were watching cartoons together and now he’s dating someone, ready to have his heart broken for the first time.
My senses were still a little blurred and I realised I was giggling a little too much.
- You don’t seem to be very optimistic about love, I said. -And of course everybody remembers their first love because it’s so intense but it is usually as intense as it is short so one gets over it quite quickly.
- I suppose that’s true in general. That’s certainly not true in my case.
-Did your first love last a lot?
-My first love was Linda. I met her was I was fifteen, just like Jett. We had him when I was seventeen and we had Gwen when I was twenty.
I felt I was completely awake now. David had all my attention.
The Sourcils were no normal family, that much had been clear to me since I had first met them. But it seemed as if the more I got to know them the more there was to be discovered.
Sometimes I feel the bond to the past events narrated in this blog is losing its strength. It is not necessarily a bad sensation. Sometimes I wish I could forget everything, sometimes I feel the need to preserve everything, every single minute, every single detail.
One thing is for sure: there is no way of getting rid of the past, it is engraved on our flesh and skin, not only in the curled recesses of our mind. But sometimes we are so caught up in our present, in our daily activities, that we forget we are body and soul, and even if the soul should trick herself into thinking she can fly without the burden of our past days, there is no way our body ever forgets.
Therefore I know it won’t be long before I can sit and write you about my lunch with David or my meeting with Gwen. I just need dusk to settle first.