I miss the faraway smell of Glühwine at the Christmas markets. I miss the smell of cinnamon and ginger. I miss building a gingerbread house buried in snow that no one dared to eat. I miss tasting chimney cake while it is still smoking hot. I miss sharing a poppy pie after descending the stairs in a clock tower. I miss pancakes and the apple mousse every Friday afternoon. I miss bumping into strangers. I miss waking up like a zombie for the very first train. I miss curling up by a fireplace watching the thickening snow. I miss the silhouettes of naked trees against the setting sun. I miss playing monkey-in-the-middle on muddy grass.
To be honest, I don’t even know what living in a Poppy Pie means. Though, she told me once at a bar, the night she spent heaps of time in the bathroom.
“I do know people living in the poppy pie, they are nice people. They keep things. Izzy, she has shoes…” I didn’t even bother to stop her. “White canvas shoes… on the wall…”
“Shopaholic running out of space?”
“She never wears them…I mean not since they were on the wall...cause she said…she said something…” She kept her head down. “Ah…Izzy didn’t want new memories…any memories to cover the mud left on the shoes. The shoes…the mud…from her hometown…for God’s sake she even kept the mud…”she chuckles and continues.
“It’s a way they keep memories. 'Cause when you add things on top of them, you keep smearing and smearing and smearing and smearing. One day, you don’t even know there was something deep down…even if you do…even if you do…you don’t remember what it was… if you’re lucky…maybe a tip of it…but it’s fading…it’s fading anyway…then it’s gone. And you are left with nothing.”
I watch Dylan starting to pick out seeds from her weed, quite a lot of them, and rolling herself another joint. The engine is still in my head roaring.
“Who else is living in the poppy pie?” I ask. I want something to distract me from my headache, even a stupid story.
“A lot. Olzal, with a shirt. A black Blitz & Donner Café shirt with the nametag: Lara. She worked in a café when she met Lazlo. She left him a few weeks later, a shirt was the only thing she left behind and he didn’t hear from her for two years. For two years, the shirt hung on a wall of paper boxes, untouched. One day, after Lara came back to the country, they bumped into each other on the streets.”
“Is this some sort of cheesy movie you are making up?” I interrupt.
“It’s real, it’s real. Let me finish. So Olzal asked Lara to his place, forgetting about the shirt. It’s the same old apartment that he shared with his fat white cat, his parents and their Schnauzer. There was still constant sound, music and dialogues coming from the studio between the kitchen and the bathroom where his dad made soundtracks for animations. Lara remembered listening to a remake of oldie from when she was in kindergarten once when she was showering in the bathroom: a girl flying on a Pegasus on her way to save her bestie from a witch in castle. She was surprised to see that shirt as she has forgotten about it. Then she left again. That was the last time they have seen each other. Olzal tells everyone who has been to his place about Lara and the shirt and sometimes he needs the nametag to remind him of her name. Ok, now, say it.”
“A cheesy one.”
“I think I like it.”
Dylan squeezes out an “I knew it” smile.
I think of my granny. It’s weird to think about my grandmother while in a bar.
I remember the smell of her embroidery, it never smelt like anything in particular. Instead, I have confused the smell of old carpets with the image of embroidered armchairs, coffee table cloths and piano covers. The smell of baked bread from kitchen. Granny does not have a fireplace but it’s always warm and cozy, always. We park our bikes at the garage every Friday after school and sneak into the hallway, the hallway filled with a puff of potato soup scent coming straight from the kitchen. My brother, sisters and cousins sitting, waiting for the sizzling pancakes with apple mousse. Granny making us more and more 'til we were all stuffed and sharing gossip from school.
I loved to stop by granny’s with my sister just to hang around and have a piece of her white bread. I try a couple times making my own bread, all turn out as salty stones.
There were always chocolates on the coffee table ready to serve. It seemed like granny knew when we were coming. Every time I opened the door of the salon, I almost expected Granny knitting on the couch watching tennis. My favourite knit from granny was the pair of socks with the colors of the nation.
Once I asked granny to teach me, I gave up after the fifth loops. “Charelle, First you have to work on things you don’t like doing, then you can do well on what you really want to do.” She is the most precious person to me and yet I can never agree to that.
I get her these little thimbles wherever I go abroad, when I think about her. She has a great collection displayed in her cupboard; porcelain, metal, pottery, glass. I wonder if she would remember where I have been if she didn’t get all these tiny little time and space capsules. If something is worth remembering, no anchor needed for strapping to your chest.
“Choo Choo!” A shriek jolts Charelle from her memories. Chills from outside thrust in through the open train doors. The wind is whooshing all around me…so cold…and the a braking bump gives her a sense of descending… I to push open the door and jump off the plane…to the clouds… the sunset…I’m in the sunset.
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