Demolition Site

Sunday has been grey and rainy. It feels as if seasons have stopped for the weekend. All the strewn items from the room I have  collected and rolled up in the orange Mexican rug. I think I will wrap the bundle into that large piece of sailcloth which I picked up on the demolition site a couple of days ago. The whole place had been hoarded in and there was a giant coloured board which advertised the fancy name of the redevelopment area. When I entered the site it rather looked like a war field with all those heaps of rubble. Slowly adjusting to the sight of piled-up building waste I was able to recognize single objects. I saw splintered doors and timber, insulation, fixtures and fittings, all that material stuff which had been removed from the multi-storied houses. Only the bare, rectangular structures were left to tell a coherent story of the former neighbourhood. In a leaflet of the demolition company which I had found in the empty house next door they explain to you that demolishing a house is undertaken in the reverse way as building it. That had made me think of an undertaker and that dying started deep inside, too. First, the intestines like the  toilets, the  kitchen sinks and heatings are  stripped out, then the veins with air-conditioning, pipework and conduit are drained and then the facades are cleared of any ornament. I kept wandering for some time until I lost direction and felt sick. Still, I couldn’t stop  looking at the messiness of past living.

When I somehow got back I lay on the mattress and imagined the neat white lines of the new houses. They say they are affordable and will better suit the needs of the community. I like the idea of something neat and regular and inexpensive. Blow-up day is announced for next Sunday and as I live next to the demolition area and in an exclusion area which will be evacuated, it is better to leave in time. I think of the Asian-looking girl and feel sorry for her. We had met Saturday afternoon and I had told her what I knew about the barmen. I had apologized and admitted that I didn’t like beehive hairdos, all that messy teasing of the hair, the sticky feel of hairspray and the scary idea of bugs nestling inside. Again time gave way and a space opened up between us. I saw that she stepped back, behind the line of the blue and white wall. She smiled at me  and said: “I will stay here and I will survive all my messy Saturdays. But today, let’s skip Saturday night.” She looked sweet with her two neat partings, in her low-waist, grey chillers and the white T-shirt.

I am peering at her kitchen balcony through my binoculars. First I see her caged in behind the French window. Then she is stepping onto her small, brand-new balcony which faces the run-down yard and the line of empty houses opposite, on the other side of the canal. She puts an empty vase on the table and takes a soft-drink bottle from the brown plastic carton under the table. The carton has a neon logo but I cannot detect which brand it is. I try to follow her movements in the kitchen after she has closed the door again. There is something yellow in the left corner of the balcony which looks like a cleaning rug. I get bored and put down the binoculars. I am leaving now.







Fuzzy Lines

Yesterday I cannot remember clearly. I climbed up the stairs to the rotten loft and tried to get at ease by counting the rectangles and triangles which the roof frames cut out against the sky. But a fuzziness clang to the buildings which made me feel as if looking at something completely unknown, like a velvet swamp. Why velvet, I ask myself, but I cannot remember. Later in the afternoon I had spotted the orange-blue kingfisher on the grounds of the boats-yard vis-à-vis. It perched on the wooden boat dock, motionless and piercing blue. Next, it was flashing along the canal bed and gone in a second. It was a wearisome lost-and-found day which had its climax when on Monday evening I found her letter stuck somewhere. It was outside in the yard, but I cannot recollect where exactly. Perhaps she had fixed it into the forsythia shrub like you hang up glitter balls on a Christmas tree. At least that’s the way I want to imagine it. The letter stood out white in the nightfall. At a distance, I had first thought of a pale face but then there was no body to it. When I realized that it was a letter I knew everything.Yesterday, behind her Sunday sunnies, she had already shaped the sentences for me. I grabbed the sheet of paper which was folded but without envelope.

I sheltered at the entry of an unfrequented indoor staircase and read her letter in portions, along with the interruptions of the stairways illumination. She was angry with me. Why I hadn’t answered although I had seen her fantastic future collapsing on the spot. She even blamed me of voyeurism. I had stripped her naked in a desperate situation by pretending to be sympathetic. People would always mistake intrusiveness for understanding, she wrote, but never before had she experienced such a crass behavior as mine. She definitely hadn’t wanted to talk about Saturday night. I should have sensed that. Besides, the gulls had frightened her, she had felt absolutely cornered after what she had gone through Saturday night. The barman had first complimented her on the beehive hairdo but later in the backroom he had mocked her about it. Beehives looked good on delicate European blondes with white skin, but not on dark Asians, he had said. And, most important, it always needed two girls to ‘act out a beehive’, as he expressed himself. It would pimp up the contrast of their girly, naive looks and their bombastic hairdos, which was so exciting for men and so on. Although she had felt offended she had let him touch her. At the end he had destroyed everything, including the beehive, and had split up with laughter about her embarrassment. Read More

Sunday Sunnies

On a cold and sunny Sunday it is shady in the corner where the wall and the bushes behind a sandy box form a straight angle. She is leaning against the blue and white wall of the bike shed. She’s wearing some retro sunglasses and is staring into the sky. Seagulls are screeching above the yard, chasing each other in wild curves. “Future is messy, past is neat”, she tells me. She keeps watching the birds and doesn’t turn to me although I do not answer. In the silence between us her future gives way to the past and I can see her sorting out Saturday’s messiness. She painfully brushes out the fantastic beehive she had piled up yesterday night and creates two exacting, neat side partings. She combs back her black hair between the two partings. Finally she looks at me through her dark shades: ” I need straight lines to start Mondays. You too, don’t you?” The seagulls have disappeared, the sounds are urban again and the brown forsythia shrub in the corner between the bike shed and the sandy box has a yellow shimmer. Why should I need straight lines for tomorrow?

Saturday Promises

Saturday morning is wet and cold but nevertheless promising. The Asian looking girl on the tiny balcony across the yard is tapping her ballerinas on the wooden groundboards and is slightly moving her bottom to some unheard rhythm. With a pair of scissors she attacks a faded rosmary plant, snipping away twigs and moving her hands like a pair of fluttering canaries. On a spur, she turns away and disappears back into her kitchen. For a while I can see the bright red colours of her striped pullover through the glass panes of the French window. Then, only messy reflections of her balcony and a blue and white wall.