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Grateful 20

It’s been years since I’ve had a roommate. Yes, I have the occasional house (flat?) guest – but rarely for more than a week at a time. I’ve not had to share my precious space with any degree of regularity for a very long time. So when I heard myself saying: ‘sure – no problem – stay as long as you like’, I shocked myself.

‘As long as you like’ turns out to be a little over a month. And I was away for most of that – so in all reality, the co-share happened for one week, with a break, and then another week. But all the time I was away, I was house-sharing, too, (except for two days). So, in effect, for the last five weeks or so, I haven’t been living on my own. And surprisingly, I’ve lived to tell the tale. Actually, I’ve quite enjoyed it.

My plants are good company but they’re not ones for talking back or offering an opinion. Spending a few hours in San Francisco pairing socks was quite a treat. Doing load after load of laundry (with a dryer) was better than a day out at Disneyland. Cooking for more than just me is downright pleasurable, especially as I don’t have to do dishes. And having my windows cleaned… now that made my year. Who would ever have thought that glass could be opaque.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was getting a little worried there for a while that I might have gone beyond redemption, that I might no longer be fit to live with someone else. But as the inimitable GM gets ready to move across the river, I’m grateful that she’s taught me that I’m still livable with. All is not lost. What a relief!

Note: For a reminder of what the Grateful series is about, check out Grateful 52

A tale of two cities

It seemed as if there were two cities. One that I could touch and feel. Another that I only caught the occasional glimpse of. A vision slightly distorted, hovering at the corner of my eye. Blink and it was gone. But soon, it was that secondary image I was looking for, the one reflected in the walls of glass that testify to the newness of this city. To its regeneration.

Pictures within pictures. Images divided randomly by lines that already exist creating even more variations, so that after a while I began to wonder which was real. They were everywhere. Clear skies and sunshine turned sheaths of glass into placid pools of aqua blue water onto which reality superimposed itself. It’s something I’ve noticed before but I’ve never seen so much of it. And it felt slighly surreal. But then Berlin itself is slightly surreal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grateful 45

I find myself looking a lot at reflections lately. I know I am prone to minor obsessions but they ususally work themselves out after a couple of weeks. This one, though, has been around for a while. I find the subtle changes that the medium makes fascinating: the wavering introduced to a straight line, the barely noticeable change in colour, the different perspective offered by looking sideways.

I was reminded recently of a fellah who used to come into the bank I worked in years ago in Dublin. His name was Joe Caulfield and he was from Dundalk. He had dirty-blonde hair and always looked like he’d been dragged through a ditch backwards. One particular day, I was really upset about something I’d done (or not done – I can’t quite remember). He asked me if I’d been able to look at myself in the mirror that morning without squirming. I had. He told me then that I’d nothing to worry about – we are our harshest critics. I’ve no idea where he is now or what he’s doing and doubt very much that he knows how those words affected me. That conversation has stayed with me for nearly 30 years. And then, during the week, when I read this verse, I had reason to remember Joe and his words of wisdom.

‘When you get what you want in the struggle for self, and the world makes you king for a day; just go to the mirror and look at yourself, and see what that man has to say. For it isn’t your father or mother or wife, whose judgment upon you must pass; the fellow whose verdict counts most in your life, is the one staring back from the glass. He’s the fellow to please; never mind all the rest, for he’s with you clear to the end. And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test, if the man in the glass is your friend. You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years, and get pats on the back as you pass. But your final reward will be heartache and tears, if you’ve cheated the man in the glass.’

After a week of ups and downs, chaos and quiet, I’m grateful that me and yer woman in the glass are still on good terms.