A Childhood Memory

The mental health writing group I’m part of gave the prompt to write about a childhood memory. I tried to keep it happy. It was hard.

 

childhood-memories1

 

Should be simple, right? But, as of right now, I have no idea what I’m going to write about. I’m hoping something will come to me as I type. You see, this prompt (or, a similar one, at least) came up a couple of months ago in something else, and I discovered I don’t have memories from childhood. Except for the nightmares I have pretty much every night and the flashbacks every day. But I’m not going to write about any of those. I want to write about something normal.

And so, I struggle. It’s the strangest thing. I try to think about my childhood, and it’s like the part of my brain which holds the files for that part of my life is locked. Or, maybe it’s been thrown away. I’m not sure.

Okay. I’ve made myself a coffee and had a hard think about this, and I have something. Something that, actually, makes me really happy when I think about it.

I know I’ve mentioned a few times how important music and dance was to my Dad’s family. They were all singers and dancers, and I inherited the love for both. Today, music is the thing that links me back to Dad the most strongly. It’s the thing that can break me, but it’s also the thing that makes me feel loved.

So, this isn’t one specific memory of one specific event. Every Saturday night, we used to go visit my Auntie Beryl; Mum’s favourite sister. The car journey was about twenty-five minutes, and those whole twenty-five minutes were always packed with song and laughter and happiness. Dad usually let me choose the cassette tape (yes, I’m that old!) to play. Now, this is where I hold my hands up and say, “My taste in music is not cool. My taste in music is eclectic.” I guess, at the age when I used to go to Auntie Beryl’s with Mum and Dad (once I was thirteen, I opted to stay home alone and invite friends over) a lot of my musical taste was based on Dad’s tastes. I have to admit, I still like that music. I’m talking music from the 60’s, 70’s, country music. There were two cassettes I chose most often: one was a Beatles compilation and the other was a 60s compilation. On the Beatles album, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ was mine and Dad’s favourite. We always (and I mean every time we listened) discussed how sad the song is. It felt like it was really important. It connected Dad and me with a fine lasso. The song from the 60’s album that caught me was ‘Those Were The Days’ by Mary Hopkin. Again, we discussed the meaning every week. Dad would talk about how I should’t waste my youth because it would be gone far too quickly, and you can never get it back. He always had this wistfulness in his voice. It’s weird how I understood that; even when I was only, like, six or seven. I already felt like I’d wasted too much time feeling unhappy, and I was terrified that life would only get worse from there. I feel so sad when I hear that song today because my youth has gone. I did waste it.

Ahh, nuts! I meant to keep it happy. Despite what I’ve written above, we did sing along to all the cool songs. Like ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia.’ That was one of our favourites. I still love it today. Those car journeys were special, bonding time. What I wouldn’t give to be in the car, singing along to Johnny Cash and Dusty Springfield.

Right, now I’ve started to write about a memory, I’m going to continue. Once we got to Auntie Beryl’s, I always had a great time. Mostly, because I was away from home, and away from my grandfather and my bedroom. My two cousins, who are both older than me, used to play with me. They had a huge garden with lots of places to hide and build dens. I loved going there. But the crowning glory for me was the dart board they had in their hallway. I loved playing darts every week. I don’t know why because it’s not exactly an exciting game, but I always looked forward to it. And then, there was the ice cream. Every week, Auntie Beryl gave us a Pzazz ice cream. I don’t think they sell them any more, but they were delicious.

On the way home, Dad would start by singing his own, local songs that he and his family used to sing in pubs and clubs. They were, mostly, really depressing, and I remember feeling sad when he sang them. But they were beautiful, too, and his voice was rich and lovely. He sang some funny, slightly rude, songs too, and I remember Mum tapping his arm more than once and telling him to stop.

It may not sound like much, but these moments are among the happiest of my life. Yeah. So, there is my memory.

Lullaby

Well. Here is a surprise. I have another happy poem to share today. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. It’s most unusual, that’s for sure.

To be honest, I did have a prompt for this one. It is: “In poetry form describe inner peace – the quiet of the soul – the place where you find that moment.”

wallup.net

Lullaby

A quiet Sunday afternoon,
with sun stretching over the
field next to our house,
we sit out back
together—
no words needed
appreciating the warmth
and the golden hue of the crop …
a dazzling dragonfly
skitters
between us, sending out the tiniest
vibrations of good will,
but other than that the air is
s t i l l,
l a z y,
blackbirds chirping in the old oak tree,
I close my eyes and listen to their song,
and my heart slows and beats its own
lullaby.

A romantic Friday night,
wrapped in David’s arms,
watching some old movie we’ve
seen a hundred times before,
his warmth permeating
my body
love
latching onto my heart and keeping it
safe;
laughing together
at nothing important,
the tranquility that settles in my stomach
with one touch,
and my heart slows and beats its own
lullaby.

Each day as time marches away
I am able to look back and find more
happy memories,
moments frozen in time,
perfectly formed stills
of childhood,
my mind is sifting the vast
catalogue
I hold within,
dispensing with all the hurt and
pain,
and retrieving the times I was loved;
a mother so proud,
a father who tried his best,
and when I am lost in these reveries
my heart slows and beats its own lullaby.

The Legend of the Accursed Mountains

The Legend of the Accursed Mountains

 

Accursed Mountains

Daybreak crept through the small window in the room Sihana shared with her sister, Ajola. Dust motes floated in the beam of light, and Sihana stretched and yawned.

Dressing without making a sound on the cold, dirt floor proved difficult. Even harder, was creeping past the room where her mother would just about be waking for the day. Somehow, though, she managed to exit the small, wooden shack she called home without detection.

Crisp morning air washed over her face, waking her senses. Her nostrils twitched at the acrid scent of rain that lingered in the air from the night before.

As she found the loose stone path that zigzagged into the Accursed Mountains, doubt began to set in. What if the legend is true? What if I really do become cursed?

Shaking her head until all doubt fell out, she marched along the loose stone path. Before long, she came to a dense thicket of spruce trees, with a dark blue lake swelling around the rocky banks. As she stood next to the water’s edge, the lapping sound soothed her anxieties, giving her the strength to keep walking.

Sihana didn’t know why it was so important for her to enter the mountains. Prokletije, as her mother always referred to them, held some kind of magical power over her from the first time she heard the legend.

*******************

Two men—brothers—were hunting in the mountains, one beautiful summer’s day. These brothers were always in competition with each other, and often squabbled over who was the best hunter, fighter, lover. Until one day. One fateful day. Whilst out hunting, they came across a beautiful fairy. With long, golden hair and blue eyes the size of tea plates, the two men stopped, transfixed.

The first brother, Leotrim, took it on himself to demonstrate his physical prowess, while the other, Rezar, simply talked. He asked the fairy questions, told her she was beautiful. When it came to the end of the day, the brothers’ sense of competition reared its ugly head. They asked the fairy whom she liked best. They forced her to choose. But she couldn’t. Instead, she replied, “Leotrim, I love you for your strength and bravery.”

“Ha! Bad luck, bro!” Leitrim said, slapping his brother on the back.

“Oh, no. I haven’t finished,” said the fairy. “I love you for your strength and bravery, Leo. But, I love you, Rezar, for your good looks and gentle disposition.” She smiled at Rezar, and he touched his fingers to her cheeks.

In an explosion of rage, Leotrim took his dagger from its sheath and plunged it into his brother’s chest. “Now, you can only love me, fairy,” he said, grabbing her wrist and striding back towards his home.

By the time they got back, his mother was waiting for their return. “Mother, I have battled with my brother for the love of this beautiful fairy. Her name is . . . “

“Elira,” she hissed.

“Elira. We are to marry, mother, isn’t that wonderful?”

It took a moment for his words to register. When it did, his mother’s face flushed as she said, “No! How dare you?! Rezar was your brother, and you slay him like a goat on the hill. I curse you and your new wife, and I curse those wretched mountains that caused the evil in your mind. May every child you ever bear, and the children of your children have nothing but bad luck and unhappiness as long as they live! And those mountains . . . may all who enter looking for love, come away with hearts filled with hate.”

********************

Sihana shuddered. Every time she thought of the story, her skin tingled. As she reached a steep incline in the path, she heard the oddest, most out of place, thing: singing. A male voice, deep and rich. There were no homes in this part of the mountains; nobody lived here. Yet, his voice travelled towards her, filling her with warmth.

As she reached the apex of the hill, she saw him. A small pool, with water of the deepest blue, sat in a level grass clearing. Inside the pool, a young man with dark hair and eyes, swam. As she moved closer, she could see his clothes, discarded by the edge of the pool.

Even though she knew she should walk away, she couldn’t. Invisible strings pulled at her clothes, forcing her closer. She cleared her throat, and the man looked up.

“Oh, hi. You made me jump. I was just having a little swim before the start of day.” He swam over to Sihana and climbed out of the water. She was relieved to see he hadn’t removed his breeches. He held out a dripping hand and said, “I’m Dashurie. It’s nice to meet you.”

As their skin connected, a spark of electricity fizzled through her arm and into her chest. “Sihana,” she replied.

Hours passed, as they sat on the edge of the pool, talking and laughing. When dusk settled around them, Sihana rose to her feet.”I have to go home. My mother will be worried.” When he took her face in his hands, she melted inside. Their kiss felt warm and natural, like their lips were made for each other.

As she ran back down the path, Dashurie called after her, “Come again tomorrow, my love. I will be here, waiting.”

Pausing to look back at him, she said, “Okay. I promise I will.”

She ran all the way home, not caring how angry her mother would be, or how skeptical. The legend of the mountains was rubbish, and she knew that as a fact. She had nothing but love in her heart. Love: not hate. The mountains were magical. She had always known that. And where magic resided, anything could happen.

 

*This story is loosely based on a legend surrounding the Accursed mountains in Albania.*

Walking On Sunshine

I have a tale to tell, and this time it’s filled with shame. But, also, it zings with happiness. So, why not share, eh?

WALKING ON SUNSHINE by KATRINA & THE WAVES

 

Ohh, Sunshine! This song is so 1980s, so uncool, so everything I feel I shouldn’t like. But I do. Because, in addition to all these things, it’s also fun, its also happy. It’s . . . well . . . sunshine.

The moment I hear the intro to this song, I’m happy. So, so happy. It takes me back to a time when I must have been about 16 or 17 (although it was released mid-eighties, so I would have been nine or ten). Mum was in hospital. I was home from school. It must have been school holidays. Dad always came home from work at lunch time for his main meal. He had done it since he was born, and refused to entertain the possibility of changing things up a little and eating at night. Anyway, on this particular day, I was cooking our food. I had my Sony Walkman tucked into the waist band of the long, multi-coloured, tye-dye (with fringe!) skirt. I should probably point out I was just coming out of my Goth phase and entering my hippy phase. I was so cool. Really. I wore the headphones on my head.

I like to dance as I cook, but I always try to keep it low-key, because people tend to find it a little strange when they happen upon me without warning. But, when ‘Walking On Sunshine’ began to play on this day in (let’s say) 1991, something within me broke loose. I danced frantically; jumping and kicking my heels mid-air, spinning, singing at the top of my voice. An unfamiliar feeling of happiness for no particular reason washed over me. I really let go and danced like the craziest of crazy ladies. It came to the end of the song before I saw my elderly neighbour and Dad stood in the kitchen doorway. I’ll never forget the look of puzzlement on my neighbour’s face. I think she thought she’d entered the Twilight Zone, or something. Dad just laughed. I think the scarlet colour my face turned and look of shame in my eyes really amused him. I was so embarrassed. So very embarrassed.

The story doesn’t end there. I told my two best friends about this when I next saw them. They thought it was hilarious and spent the next few years begging me (with no success) to show them my ‘Sunshine Dance.’ Choosing to retain a little dignity, I always refused. Until, that is, the three of us and another friend called Mary went on holiday to Dawlish Warren, a beautiful seaside town in Devon. One night, we decided to stay in and have a few drinks. Well, a few turned into a few more, and so on. We played tunes on the CD Player. Shell made sure ‘Walking On Sunshine’ was one of those songs. Without hesitation, I performed my routine. All four of us laughed for, what felt like, hours. It was probably only about half an hour or so. We laughed so much we cried. Our stomachs hurt by the time we finished.

I’ve never repeated the dance since, despite Shell and Nina’s attempts to make me. But the song remains a special one for us. It reminds me of happiness, just for happiness’s sake. It reminds me of a time I thought I could turn my life around. There was so much promise. I have said (perhaps, a little morbidly) I would like this song played at my funeral because I know it would make Nina and Shell smile. So that’s why I chose this song for today.

Christmas Songs ~ Day Two

My dog’s Christmas presents arrived this morning. He was so excited. I don’t know how, but he knew the parcel that arrived was for him. So I gave in (with some peer pressure from my husband) and gave him a small, squeaky duck toy. Which he promptly ripped to pieces in about ten minutes.

You may think it’s a waste to buy him toys, knowing he’ll rip them apart. But, that’s how he plays with them. That makes him happy, and that’s the point of presents, surely? And this duck did make him very happy! The key was to make sure we grab the squeaker before him, or he might swallow it. Although, probably not. Whilst he loves ripping toys apart, he doesn’t eat them. It’s purely a destructive pleasure he gets from them!

He’s currently fast asleep, snoring and twitching, worn out from his play. I think he might be dreaming of chasing ducks, judging by his whimpers and leg-twitching.

But, this post is not about my dog and his presents. It’s about Christmas songs. The first one I’m going to share is ‘O Holy Night.’ This version by Il Divo is my favourite (although, Josh Groban comes a close second). This song—to me—encapsulates everything Christmas is about. It’s so moving and joyous, and it fills my heart with love.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5j_XuATgRU

 

My second choice today is quite different, and I love it for completely different reasons. ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’ by Wizzard. This song was a staple in our house every Christmas morning and every family Christmas party. It’s so much fun. It celebrates the joys and magic that Christmas brings to children. I also love the video for this song. The children pretending to play instruments is the best part. It was also my Dad’s all-time favourite Christmas song. Happiness is probably the best adjective to ascribe to it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnczB6LXkqE&list=RDbnczB6LXkqE&t=22

 

I hope you all enjoyed today’s choices. I know I enjoyed watching the videos. Tune in for more tomorrow!

Married In New York

wedding-bands

Married in New York

Swamped in dripping heat
two lovers stand
hand in hand,
they move
to cross
the road
to marriage,
on the other
side, they make their vows

 

 

Butterfly Form

This form was first created by Michael Degenhardt
Meter is syllabic and in this order: 5/4/3/2/2/2/3/4/5.
Stanza length: 9 lines.