Tag Archives: childhood

#304 ~ One Hundred Words and a Photo: 24


I watched myself running into the wilderness, braids stiff in the sultry summer wind, darting into the shades of heavily laden branches. Lost, with a purpose. Soles slapping concrete like the hi-fives I always missed. I watched myself. Running off into the distance. I shouted, asked myself to wait, impatient, you impatient child. STOP

Deaf I watched my shadow running off into the distance. My lungs had to beat faster, as I disappeared like Peter.

My shadow was running back as I ran away, watching myself running off into the distance, braids flying stiffly in the sultry summer – time.

Copyright: Victoria. O

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#170 ~ The Measuring Wall

Bohemian hipster parents always had that wall. It was a specific wall that rested adjacent to their bohemian kitchens where cakes and flapjacks were always in mid-bake, vegetables and home cooking melding together to create a gently domestic aroma. The wall was often stripped bare and painted white. You know the style, white walls and wooden furnishings with ethnic art hung elegantly, worn middle-eastern rugs covering well walked, uneven and permanently unpolished floorboards. That kind of decor.

This wall, stripped bare, was always tattooed with the graphite from a primary school students pencil-case. Dash marks were the introduction to a neatly scrawled name which was followed by a height. This formed a measurement chronology. One could chart their growth, literally from the floor upwards, as each year, each annual party, new measurements were placed on the height wall.

The desire to grow became a competition. You wanted to out-grow the tallest person on the chart, who inevitably happened to be a 6″7 giant who probably has painful joints for all their success in the height-winning competition.

The trick, however, to finding contentment in that chronological measurement test, was to, year on year, strive to beat your previous height. To ignore the scrawled names that decorated your honoured positions, and just strive to grow and get taller. Because the physical height was really an external expression of an internal, psycho-emotional growth.

When you reached a growth plato, that wasn’t a signal that you had stopped improving and had begun to regress. Really, it was a deeper sign – one that slyly hinted at you to recognise, the competition had ended. Hopefully, by that time, the desire to compare had been lost or at least transformed into the desire to just live your life, as you are, in peace, knowing intuitively, that you were growing, improving in yourself.

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#160 ~ A Mournful Generation

Death is like an elusive shadow that strokes the edges of childhood, but dares not penetrate to near to the heart of an infant’s memory. As one grows older, Death gets braver, appearing in recognisable forms of fiction, fairy tales and distant relatives. Yet even when it gets too close, its draining impact is absorbed by the Elders.

Yet there comes a time when the wards placed around the young and the youthful begin to disintegrate, and Death grows braver, more audacious as he inches nearer. In time, as eyes are widened to the ways of the world, one cannot escape his leering gaze, his wide smile, the cold chill as he strokes the veins that lace the outside of one’s heart. He breathes gently, a mixture of dolour, carrion and sweetly fragrant perfume, an ephemeral ‘Hello’, which could easily be a lacklustre ‘Goodbye.’

We become the sponge generation, the absorbers, who must begin to take the weight and load of Death’s presence. No longer shielded, we are the shield, and it is our loved ones, whose thin lidded eyes close, whose chests shudder, stomachs groan, and whose hearts erratically shimmer in their rib like cages of yellowing bone.

I didn’t realise, that I had so easily become a part of this mournful generation.

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#140 ~ Joan

When I was growing up eclectic was a thing that just existed within our household. It was eclectic. It was so eclectic it was before our time. Literally, we grew up listening to music from before our time.

Obviously you have the standards of your parents generation, from Jonny Cash and Elvis, to Stevie Wonder and Ray, Engleburt Humperdinck and Harry Belafonte, Miriam Makeba with Hugh Masekela, Ladysmith BlackMambazo, Paul Simon, Joan Baez, Carol King, The Mavericks, Schubert, Mozart, Chopin, Karl Jenkins, Whitney Houston, Osibisa, King Sunny Ade, Fela, Lagbaja – these were the artists my friends didn’t know from Adam, whose music pumped through our kitchen, out the new speakers that are now broken, and turned my bunk-bed into a self-massaging construction of Ikea wood.

I knew some Destiny’s Child songs, some Britney, I could do the theme song of the Fresh Prince and vaguely mouth to TLC, but if I’m honest, to claim i ‘knew’ Pop, would be assigning myself a new name: a Fraud.

Within that happily eclectic fusion example of my childhood music, was one artist whom I rediscovered today – and she reminded me about the kid inside. Joan Armatrading. In retrospect the first woman I saw and admired who wore her hair naturally, perfected the fro hawk, played the guitar folk-style, had a deep alto-tenor voice, quirky lyrics and melodies, and whom i fell in love with.

Joan and I, after discovering her first, self titled, album whilst ‘polishing’ the shelves – we clicked. We bonded, we shared jokes, feelings, stories. She got me, I got her, we became best friends. At the age of 9 I was at least 40years behind anyone else who knew her name let alone her music.

After trying, as I grew older, to get my mouth and my hips round the Pop and RnB music of my generation, I returned to Spotify and gave my old friend some Love and Affection. We didn’t have to mix any water with the wine, I was no-longer sinking as I turned off the lights. I had travelled so far in the decade since I first met her, but now I had begun to help myself. We’d worked from the bottom to the top, dropped the Pilot who was steering me away from myself, went all the way to America and realised, at last, that everybody has got to know this feeling – the reconnection with your inner self through the music that really sets you on fire. Thank you Joan, it is tomorrow, at last.

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#62 ~ Everything Good Will Come

When I was 11 my best friend got into a school which did rowing as a sport. I got into a school that had a fenced enclosure for physical exercise. We called it The Cage. There was this brief period where a light haze of jealousy gripped me. I wanted the opportunity to row. It was something I knew we’d never be able to afford, but the idea of doing this almost intangible sport reserved for the upper echelons of the education system fascinated me. Unless you’re from a ‘boatie’ family, live very near a river or have the privilege of attending a school which does, it is, or appeared to be, exceedingly inaccessible.

I excelled and enjoyed playing netball and athletics, but something about the water, the potential for calm enthralled me. Watching boats fly down  in synchronisation but with power and speed – it was something else.

This afternoon I walked through an empty park and up a hill which crossed a very calm river. On the other side was a boat house. An hour or so later a fibreglass body was bobbing gently on the water, my feet were being strapped into screwed on shoes, and I was tightening  the gate in which my oar sat. The cox box turned on and we were pushing off the bank to engage in our last race of the week.

As I had walk through that park, i’d remembered that 11-year-old me, who had made a spur of a moment wish. I wish I could row. I wish I could have that opportunity. Eight years later I row in a Women’s First Boat. The gratitude that came over me was so humbling. To know that that prayer, that desire was heard, and with a patient grace in many unseeing ways, almost a decade later was answered. It taught me to wait. Eventually, everything good will come.

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