Sometimes I recognize a moment of experience that is so significant to me that I have to write about it. It doesn't happen often and it is not just a daily journal entry. Instead it is a written piece that is as intently, critical, elaborate and obsessive as I make visual art. This year in April I had one of those moments and I think it's time to share my written account. I edited it several times and had some friends look at but I am sure it still has grammar errors and such. So I appologize in advanced.
cleansed and freed
cleansed and freed
The smell of rain was filling the city with anticipation, intense yet pleasant. Of course it was already dark at this time of the evening and we walked down his street together. It was chilly but I could barely feel the cold creep through my sweater. I love the smell of rain, around this time of the year it’s filled with scents of freshly blossoming trees and sprouting grass, washing away the stuffiness of the past winter. Normally I would have pointed that out to him and shared my observations and memories but today the tension between us reflected the announced weather forecast, it was about to down pour.
There was nothing I expected from him to do about it, it was my own battle. My disappointment and anxiety had turned into an internal conflict that twisted and knotted itself up to a tight hardened bundle inside my chest. The anger I had felt for him earlier that evening had passed long ago, now I was stuck with this emotional knot inside me and didn’t know how to deal with it. But the worst about it was the silence. He had attempted to make me speak and encouraged me to tell him what was wrong and what was going on in my head yet I just could not open up to him then.
When he had finally called me an hour ago, I had told him: “I’ll get over it in 5 minutes.” but calming my emotions turned out to be much more difficult than expected.
Forcing myself to take his hand and hold on to it while we were walking, in order to break the distance between us and to show him that I am not angry with him, cost me some serious personal persuasion. Yet I couldn’t bare looking into his eyes. The silence between us was thick and foggy, almost dizzying. I had noticed that he started to understand my body language and recognized something was wrong when I avoided looking him into his dark eyes. I know my eyes would give it all away, and the moment I let that happen I would probably start bursting into tears.
How badly I would love to cry right now, I thought to myself struggling to stay composed, just to release the pressure! How much effort it had taken to swallow the tears of relief after I had finally received his call.
Three teenagers ran down the street across from us and yelled at each other in French, the metro station was in sight but thank god it wasn’t our destination, the smell of rain intensified yet I barely noticed it. I could see the kids disappear inside the station as we walked passed a building that rented out the rooms for large events. Tonight was the first time I saw people celebrating inside. An African wedding reception, westernized. The bride and groom sat on a large table across from the windows, we walked passed. Rhythmic music was playing and about 200 guests were sitting at white tables in the large hall celebrating this joyful event. The irony of that site made the knot inside me contract and I had to swallow deeply.
We crossed the street and walked into the 24 hour Videotron to rent some movies. The bright lights of the store made me feel vulnerable after walking outside in the dark; as I made my way down the aisles scanning the colorful titles I massaged my chest trying to get rid of that uncomfortable knot as if it was real. The racing thoughts and the battle within myself continued and I felt guilty that I made him feel bad which just made the knot even bigger.
“Could we please rent something funny, something genuinely funny, not stupid or weird, just funny.” Knowing that he prefers to spent his money on action, drama or horror movies I added “I’ll even pay for it, please!” He gave in and replied with his subtle francophone Chadian accent, “Both of us take one movie, you choose one and I choose one.” I nodded and walked away. I grabbed a 3D animated cartoon. And he came back with a psychological action/war time movie. I handed him the DVD case and he laughed when he read the title, even I had to grin.
I must have had “bad vibes” written all over my face when the video clerk rented the movies to us. As we paid, the guy glanced at me once and for a split second his eyes widened with surprise. He instinctively looked away and focussed awkwardly on the tall African man next to me who handed him the money for both movies.
Ignoring me, the clerk said “Have a nice night, Sir.”
As we were leaving the store we could see rain drops pearling down the storefront windows. When we got outside he said: “Argh! We are going to have to run.”
I barely heard him as the rain had hit my face, arms, hair, clothes all at once. Within seconds streams of water ran down my face and the rain soaked through my clothes. We crossed the street and wiped the water from our faces. I was amazed, I could not run or even walk fast, recognizing the feeling of being rained on was the most liberating moment. The skies had opened, the anticipation broke, the tension dissolved with every drop that fell onto my body. As we were walking down the street I closed my eyes and just walked straight ahead, face slightly tilted towards the sky. Water dripping down my spine, my ears and my chin. With every drop the knot loosened and I became more and more aware of the ground under my feet. I caught that moment, the meaning of it just as it was happening and that realization made me laugh. I must have had the biggest grin on my face, the pressure, the negativity and conflict washed away from my body.
Cleansed and freed.
As we turned the corner to his apartment building I smiled and said: “I reaaally love this smell of rain...” And he started telling me about his home country and how much I would love it there.
~ Maria Doering, April 28th, 2008 ~