Hearts Abroad / Hearts Abroad (Diasporas on love) / Immigrant Life / Novel / Writing

Prompts: September 2017

More Notes from the Canadian honey jar

#55: Septemer 5, 2017

Certain moments in her life she’ll be eternally proud of: leaving that hotel room before he woke up (ESFNA), tiptoeing down the corridor holding her heels in her hand…

That will go down in her personal history as a ‘flash of self-worth’ moment, one of those times she acted in a way that maintained her dignity, self-respect, etc. Never mind that everything she did up to that moment was beneath her. But somehow taking herself out of that room before he woke up was pure genius. Now if she had managed to end the affair at that, that would have been even better, but oh well. It’s not called a ‘flash’ of genius for nothing. Everything that precedes and follows it is mostly darkness.

…it lingers in her mind because she wants somehow to let it be known that that’s not me, that’s not who I am, I am not one of those skanks who sleeps around at ESFNA. Except that’s exactly who she acted like: a skank who sleeps around at ESFNA. And the reason behind her effort to turn it into a relationship afterwards can all be traced to that desire to prove that see, I’m not a skank. This is a real connection, this is a real relationship. We had such a strong chemistry that we couldn’t help but fall into bed within days of meeting each other. But it wasn’t, and they didn’t have any such connection. It was just as tawdry and embarrassing as it looked. It was exactly what it was. She just has to accept that even the ‘best’ of us have moments of sinking that low.

#57: September 14, 2017

The artists: Madonna, Marvin Gaye, (Michael Jackson?), (Lionel Richie?).

The songs: Like a Virgin, Lucky Star, Material Girl; Sexual Healing; Bad; Dancing on the Ceiling

I don’t know where they came from. They were likely recordings made for my parents from people they knew who lived abroad or who travelled abroad.

I don’t know if they would have been considered illegal, or contraband.

I wonder why they were given to or made for us. And by whom.

Did we know that the songs were about love?

Well, I remember thinking it had something to do with men and women relationships.

I got the ‘general gist’, from the sensuality, the movements, the gestures, and the facial expressions.

I was more interested in the videos and songs for what they showed me about life in outside-country. The settings, the fashions, how ferenjoch behaved. It was an all-around experience. I don’t think I dwelled too much on the meaning of the song. I definitely didn’t understand a word of the lyrics.

#58: September 15, 2017

Late in life fondness for old ballads.

He claims it isn’t. that he has always listened to tizita, practically on full blast, in the bedroom while falling asleep & waking up, and in the living room whenever. But I know for a fact that that has never been the case

If there has been a single soundtrack that ran through my entire life at home, it is the soundtrack of the news. CNN, BBC, more recently Al Jazeera.

Isn’t the theme of most of those ballads regret? Let’s look up the definition.

  1. 1. to feel sorrow or remorse for (an act, fault, disappointment, etc.)
  2. 2. to think of with a sense of loss
  3. 3. a sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfaction, etc.

Synonyms: deplore, lament, bewail, bemoan, mourn, sorrow, grieve.

Regret, penitence, remorse imply a sense of sorrow about events in the past, usually wrongs committed or errors made. Regret is distress of mind, sorrow for what has been done or failed to be done: to have no regrets.

I think one of the biggest lies people tell, one of the most common lies, the lie everyone tells, is “I have no regrets.” Bullshit I say!

The talent for spinning every situation to make oneself appear in the best light, in the winning light, no matter the facts of the situation (you fell flat on your face), is one hell of a talent indeed.

I think the idea of having no regrets is very appealing. And the vision of oneself as one such person is very appealing. To say you have no regret is to say you think every decision you ever made is the right one? Not at all. Only that you are okay with the wrong ones and the right ones too. And who’s to say all the wrong ones will not turn out to have been right all along and vice versa. As he says, we can never know what was for good and what was for bad, not truly, until the end. How something seems now is only how it seems now, not how it will seem in the future.

I feel like looking up quotes about regret.

Favourites:

The regret of my life is that I have not said ‘I love you’ often enough.

Yoko Ono

Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

Don Miguel Ruiz

Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.

Henry David Thoreau

My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.

Woody Allen

Regret is the worst human emotion. If you took another road, you might have fallen off a cliff. I’m content.

William Shatner

A great source of calamity lies in regret and anticipation; therefore a person is wise who thinks of the present alone, regardless of the past or future.

Oliver Goldsmith

People always tell me I’m going to regret not having kids. But what if I have one and then I regret having it? Has anyone thought of that option?

Karl Pilkington

In history as in human life, regret does not bring back a lost moment and a thousand years will not recover something lost in a single hour.

Stefan Zweig

The man who insists upon seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides. Accept life, and you must accept regret.

Henri Frederic Amiel

#60: September 18, 2017

the back of this PROMPT says: ‘The conspicuous absence of wedding photos at their house. How it was confusing because there was no other narrative that we could conceive of for a man + woman getting married & having children without having a wedding.’

…probably because we didn’t know about sex lol! As if a wedding literally had to happen for children to be possible. At least that is how it looked all around. No one who wasn’t married had children. That we knew of, of course.

So yes, the mystery of why there were no wedding photos. (Wedding photos were a standard piece of decoration in every married household.

Reminds me of those pieces of paper that used to be pasted up above the doorways of every house, some kind of registration. For what? Just like that, wedding photos were there too, like the official document of belonging to an institution. Welcome to the Institute of Marriage #123 in the Municipality of Addis Ababa.

No one ever asked. That’s the thing. True to our cultural conditioning. No one ever asked why there are no wedding photos at their house.

So, no one ever asked but the story came out in bits and pieces. To this day I don’t think the full version is known by anyone other than the two involved. That’s the thing having a wedding entitles you to: a story, a tale of just you and him/her, that you are free to tell as many times as you want in whatever company you want, that you are free to possess a treasured photo album of. But if you’re a pair who just eloped, or shacked up, it doesn’t matter if your love was truer, your union happier than the married pair’s, you don’t get a story. You do have a story, of course. A more interesting one, for sure. But you don’t get to tell it to anyone other than yourselves (if you’ve privately thrown off the shame everyone wants you to feel about it), and maybe your children. Hopefully your children. The story will out, eventually, in bits and pieces, here and there, never fully complete or fully accurate. You could set the record straight, of course, but you can’t because you’re not supposed to/allowed to talk about it.

Oh if only someone would! Maybe that’s part of the book? An elderly former eloper (widowed or not?) decides to tell their story fully out in the open, fed up with all this ‘properness’. The ‘proper’ way to fall in love and set up a life together, etc.

Yes maybe a contrast of 2 weddings? One “traditional” one (but of a diaspora couple), one “retroactive” one (of an elderly couple who never had a real one, because they had eloped). But what about the elderly couple who reunite late in life after having had their love interrupted at a young age? Well it all depends on what I’m trying to say with all of it. What’s my ultimate position. What am I saying about love, weddings, marriage? Whose pov is it? Is it 1st person (a serial bridesmaid? A divorceé?) or multiple povs? I like the multiple povs better. As an artistic challenge to myself and also because it allows for more stories to be told. Hmmmmm.

that’s the story I’ve always wanted to hear, the full version, then maybe that’s the story I should write! Contrasted with the ‘approved’ kind of wedding. Maybe the book is written in 2 time periods? Interrresting! How about: in the present day version, a diaspora couple is getting married, but there’s also a anniversary-wedding in the works (maybe it’s an annoyance to the families of the diaspora couple? There’s a family connection between the two weddings. Hello conflict!). So there’s a lot of gossip flying about re: what really happened ‘back then’ between the older couple, and there’s ‘flashback’ sections that show what did really happen, and there’s the present day progress of the two weddings.

Sounds pretty dense, with potential to get complicated/out of hand, but at this point I like!

#61: September 19, 2017

 For the record, the whole “let’s have sex first before we get serious” thing has never sat right with me. It’s the most FOB part of me I guess. I just realized early on that I have to get with the program (Rome/Romans) if I intend to have any kind of dating life in this generation.

When did I first realize this, you say? Well I’ll tell you.

. It was in the basement of one very cozy family home in the Versoix district of Geneva, sometime in the spring of 1998, in the middle of a makeout session with my boyfriend at the time. I forget how he asked about sex. I just know it was very nicely, very respectfully, but also very like “um so when are we going to do this?” it was very clear that for him it had been a given. Something natural to want to do. A ‘when’, not an ‘if’. Whereas I had not even thought about it. At all. I hadn’t even thought about his private parts, as if he was a mannequin…Looking back, I realize it was the longest I was in a relationship before sex entered the picture. About 4 months. Now I think wow! I can’t even imagine getting the chance to be in a relationship that long without sex even coming up! Sounds like a dream. Without intending it, I had practiced that ‘3 month rule’! Of course, at the time it did not feel nearly long enough…Back then, I was doing what I saw other people around me doing. And I’ve continued the same pattern since. Or being influenced by offhand comments/expectations of other people…My 16 year old self had more in common with my parents than I’ve ever realized…I really had no other blueprint for relationships than my mother and father. And whether it was explicitly known or not, the story of their relationship was that they were the only people that they dated. They had never been with anyone else, nor would they ever. So I thought this is how all relationships go. You stay with the one you pick first.

#63: September 21, 2017

…his attention on me was like oxygen. I only thought I’d been breathing before

That’s pretty much it! I’d never felt that way around someone before, and I haven’t since. But I know now that’s not necessarily a good thing, it doesn’t mean that you should be with a person. Actually it’s a dangerous thing! To be at someone’s mercy for your oxygen!!…That’s pretty interesting. How you can be totally indifferent to someone at one point in your life, and that same person, at another point, feels like a soulmate, the love of your life, like someone around whom it even feels easier to breathe for chrissake! What’s different between who you were then and who you are at that moment?…This could be an interesting development for the relationship between two characters in the book…looking back on a crush, essentially, a looooong crush more fondly than any hookup or relationship that might have been but never was.

 

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