Thursday, September 11, 2014

Who were you

Today I found 15 scraps of paper filled with my handwriting, small corrections and lots of crossed out lines, dated April 9, 1996.  I remember that I wanted to type it all up and hand it to his brother. I never did.  

Can a person whom one does not know well be one's friend?

Can one be fond of a person whom one does not know well?
Who were you, Luc?
You were a special being, a brave spirit wearing the shell of a human body that appeared at my doorstep uninvited but always so welcome and then disappeared again and re-appeared and disappeared.
When we sat together on the doorsteps on a hot summer day - you were the cool refreshing summer breeze.
When we stood at the window and watched the snow melt under the first warm sun rays - you were the first tender shoot of a tulip that announced spring to me.
When you asked me "how is it going?" and reassured me that all will be fine - you were the tiny bud on a stem that promised me roses.
When you offered me this tiny, oh so tiny little straw basket with a rock inside - you were like a child entrusting me with your treasures.  
When you struggled to set my furniture up after my move up here and struggled with the door that did not want to stay in it's hinges - your enthusiasm, energy and strength felt like fire.
The few times you shared painful moments of your life with me, were the times when only your shell was with me - you felt like water running through my fingers or like a rock that I could not move.
Then there were the times you passed by without stopping - just a smile and a wave - like a butterfly  .
                                  You were and still are my soulmate.

Luc was in the process of moving to another province where he had bought a small home together with a woman whom he met when he found her sleeping in her car in a parking lot in the middle of a small town nearby, on his early morning walk.  He talked about tourist accommodation, bike rental and repair and had stored 15 bikes with me which were going to leave a few days after him.

More notes:

Luc arrived at my house around 17.30 for a good-bye supper and to view the community video that had been given him by Moselito's home away from home to thank him for his helping hands. He brought three muffins for desert - 
his aunt had made them - and was holding a big white carnation that he shyly held out to me.
He ate well.  We boiled young potatoes, prepared a green salad and some crab meat mixed with Mayo.  He enjoyed the dinner and commented how little efforts we put into meal preparation when we prepare it for ourselves only. Like - take one thing, slap it on another and eat.  While we were having our second herb tea and while I was puffing away on my cigarette I asked him if he ever smoked and drank and hung out in bars.  He smiled and said "of course I have done all those things but as we get older we don't have the energy
for that any more and we look for an easier way of living". 
He talked a lot about this good conversation he had with his mother and brother a few days ago.  How they talked a lot about the past and how difficult it had been for his mother.  Many moves because of his father's job, 4 children to take care of etc.  He talked about being sent to pensionat, him and his brothers and had it not been pensionat , it would have had to be reform school or such.  He felt that they or maybe him only (I'm not sure) had been a bad bunch for a while.  He disliked pensionat.  He was very happy to repeat over and over again
how happy his mother was in her new place.  The house being now rightfully his but he was leaving most things behind so that his mother would feel good when going there on a week-end visit.  His aunt and uncle would stay in the house each week-end and his sister would be able to go there when she came over from England during the summer.  He also talked about leaving small nick-knacks behind because he wanted to detach himself from the past and start a new life in a life that now scarred the shit out of him.  He told me how terribly he panicked after he had decided to move up here from Montreal and how frantically he tried to get his Montreal place back, that it had already been rented to someone else and that if this had not been the case he would still be in Montreal.  He wanted to hear me talk about moving up here and how I feel about it.  He was worried about having to make new friends in B., about having to subsidize part of his business and life there.  How easy it was for him to spend big money but how hard it was for him to pull small amounts out of his pocket for his daily needs. No, he did not have to worry financially and even if he lost it all in that new place he would still be able to survive decently.  He admires how his father was able to plan all so well and retire at age 55.  Yes, it's about time he undertook something and took up some responsibilities.  Sure he knows how to count and, do I think he could get a kick out of keeping records on a computer?   " But, one can get addicted to it!"    No, he won't use it to withdraw - it was now more important to put energy into building a relationship with C. and looking after his bike shop.  He wants to cut off part of the building and build a small bachelor apartment.  He bought the kitchen cupboard here. 
He enjoyed the video but did not make many comments.  We were both sitting on the couch with blanket around our laps - he joked and said "just like a grandfather".
He called the mover and confirmed that the move was still on and then walked back to me and talked about re-establishing trust - that he told the mover a lie when he cancelled and told him that he had lied to him when he reinstated the move.  Movers must have seen it all he felt, since most people must have big emotions when they move.
At one point he asked me if he could rent this room, and pointed to a room, if he ever had to come back.  "Anytime Luc"!  He was pleased to hear that and seemed content. 
I did not ask him why he would rent here since he has an empty house in Ste.A.  Later on, shortly before leaving he asked if he could look at HIS room.  I opened the door, he walked around inside it and said "this is very nice, you used to sleep here I guess, I need a mother".
I did not know what to say except that if he really wanted to be here I would be pleased to have him and would leave him to do whatever he or read in peace.
Luc had mentioned to me that he would come to visit early because he did not like to be out late.  When I felt that he was getting ready to leave I offered him to sleep in HIS room since he did not like to be out late.  I offered it twice but he kept saying that he was al right.
His good night and good-bye hug did not feel as warm and quite as hugging as other times and his upper body felt stiff and cold.  
He was dressed in beige pants, beige wool pullover and a yellow/light brown jacket.  A small, serious looking figure walking through the porch light down the steps into the dark for ever.

                                 May what is true in you dear friend

                                 arise beyond the treshold
                                 despite the ruins of your self-destroyed habitation     
                                 and we
                                 who follow your destiny
                                 wish to be mindful
                                 that you too are mindful
                                 and standing upright 
                                 look back on the ruins with the decision
                                 to build them up once more into a firm new dwelling

                                                                         Rudolf Steiner

I think I was the last one to be with him and hoped that by writing each and every word of his down, I would find something that indicated his intention to drive back to his house, do what needed to be done for being able to sit in car and fall asleep.

I usually visit his grave once a year or more to put things in order.  I will go there tomorrow and will look at dates. II want to know how old he was.                


Rouchswalwe said...

I am much moved reading your memories of this wonderful man. Yes, it is important to write down his words, for in this way, we also know him a little. And wish we had known him better.

It is good that you visit his grave to put things in order, though I imagine it to be a difficult task. Sending a hug to you, sweet Ellena.

Tom said...

A deeply moving story, and I am not surprised that, if you lived on a desert island, you would want to take all your memories with you. My thoughts are with you.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Ellena, I'm stunned. You write so deeply from the heart, so openly and shyly at the same time. I'm so sad at how this ends. I wonder what was in Luc's mind during that last visit and how can we ever know another person, no matter how close we are to them.

Ellena said...

I used to go twice a year to the grave
with garden clippers and plastic bag in hand. Clearing and allowing breathing.
This year has been a bit of a difficult one for me without any reason or should I say unknown reason so I only went yesterday quickly and intend to add a pack of energy to my tools before I return to close for the winter.

I still have the tiny basket. Now I will look for his brother to ask if he wants to read what Luc was talking about prior to this last gesture of his.

Yes, I felt as if had undressed my body and my soul. And, I always wish I would not feel so childlike not to say simple when express things from deep down.

Lucy said...

We can never quite know until long after, and sometimes not then, what people meant to us, even less what we meant to them. It certainly need not be measured by the length of time one spent together.

You had the loving courage to be with him in the way that you could, though in the end he was on a path where you couldn't follow. I think in a certain way you knew him very well.

Ellena said...

Yes, I like the way you see it all.
Thank you.

Halle said...

Ellena, it is possible I understand how you felt making your latest comment on my blog, and wondering if you make any sense.
Here is what I feel compelled to say.
You could not have known what Luc intended. If you had become suspicious, nothing you could have done or said would have changed what happened.
From what you have told us, I cannot believe that Luc would have wanted you to feel at all responsible, and yet, it seems to me that is what has happened. I so hope I am wrong and as a good friend said recently "I constantly make a fool of myself."

Roderick Robinson said...

I'm disinclined to take any of this either as the truth (or that it is even truthful - a very subtle distinction) or as fiction created for a purpose. To do that might risk commenting on someone's way of life, something that is limited to magistrates and to right-wing pundits who write newspaper columns.

My interest, as always, is in the way you have written it. And there I am encouraged from the start. When writing many people believe that their first outburst is somehow holy - that it should be recorded and presented to the world untouched, as representing the purest form of their thoughts. Once I used to regard such people as innocent but I've changed my mind - they are arrogant. They have the temerity to believe that what they have written is perfect. Nothing written is ever perfect since there will always be an infinite number of ways of saying the same thing.

"Small corrections and lots of crossed-out lines" is what pleases me. You have an idea and you describe it. As the words appear in front of you they create other possibilities, better possibilities. You try these out because this is how you honour that original impulse; it deserves your best efforts, even though your best effort will not be perfect.

Two suggestions:

Paragraph breaks (with line gaps) briefly separate chunks of prose. They are like pausing for breath and they help readers follow what you have written. Don't disdain them.

An excess of adjectives can end up like a fight in your backyard. Consider why "you were the first tender shoot of a tulip that announced spring to me" gets the job done better than "... on a hot summer day, you were the cool refreshing breeze... watched snow melt under the first warm sun rays...".

There are so many good lines I can pick at random. I particularly like:

"He also talked about leaving small nick-knacks behind because he wanted to detach himself from the past and start a new life in a life that now scared the shit out of him."

because it mixes formality with informality. That takes courage. The repetition of "life" is quite audacious.

Please, please keep going. You have things to say, many people haven't.

Ellena said...

I am at peace with it all now. Thank you for your soothing words.

Ellena said...

Thank you for taking the time to let me know your thoughts and pointing out lack of paragraphs and excess of adjectives. You are soooo right.
When I found my notes I was eager to give Luc some space in my blog prior to destroying the bits of paper, him having been important in Moselito's life and I want his sisters to know that.
Audacity not my forte I just repeated what he said.
Your comments are very welcome and I enjoy reading how I can better my
writing. Don't expect much though. I refuse to look for synonyms or such because I feel that it won't be me writing no matter how uneducated it may look.
(Interrupted by Skype call and lost my thread)