Category Archives: Lost and Found

Lost and Found 8: Journey

Lost and found earringEveryone thinks Journey is a bit dizzy, a bit flaky, a bit of a hippy. (Her name doesn’t really help.) They think this almost like it’s a bad thing.

People like her, it’s true – in that abstract way that most of them like summer, or a glass of water when they feel quite thirsty, or a starlit night sky, which they only look at once in a while and think it’s pretty but then go on with whatever they were doing before they looked up into the diamond-studded infinite.

People like Journey almost like it’s a habit, and one that refreshes, but doesn’t linger for long. She seems apart from them somehow. She seems like she knows something that they don’t. She acts like she has the key to uncomplicated happiness.

Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe the people who like her are a bit jealous. They don’t know how to let go of worry. They’re never quite content with who they are and where they are; all too busy being distracted by the concern of what now? what next?

It’s not like Journey radiates an over-the-top, sing-in-the-street, look-mum-I’m-dancing joy. She just seems content with her lot, though distracted in thoughts of, not what next, but this right here right now is kind of lovely.

Journey likes natural fabrics and fresh, organic food and jewellery of pure silver that jangles when she walks. She likes the way cats purr and the vibration travels from their tiny bodies right into her hands when she strokes them and calls them sweet little kitty. She likes how bees are fuzzy and how oranges sometimes squirt you in the eye when you bite into them and the sound of horse hooves on the tarmac of the city street and the ding of the tram bell and the squeal of kids running through the fountain in front of the casino in summer.

She likes rain on her arms and wind in her dark hair. She likes the sun on her face, and that her dark brown skin doesn’t burn.

Journey likes walking everywhere. She likes stopping to smell the flowers in a very literal sense. She’s been known to stop and smell grass.

And she likes all these things in a low-key way. She’s not all manic-pixie-dreamgirl about them, despite her name and the tinkling silver jewellery. It all simply makes her calm and mindful and content.

Here’s a secret.

It’s true. Journey does know something that other people don’t know.

She knows what comes next. Came next. Will be next.

Grammar is difficult when you are living in your own past; when you’re a grain of the future stranded back in the time Before (but you are still the Yet To Be for the environment you inhabit, for the acquaintances who like you but don’t know anything about you).

Journey knows a lot about quantum physics and the machine powered by an entire sun that sent her back to gather data. Her understanding of climate change is very good too – all the survivors, rather belatedly, have a good understanding of the stupidity humanity did to itself.

The machines in Journey’s head and skeleton interact with the ones she wears on her body to send vital data through space and also time. Earrings and bracelets of silver (and many other things) make her whole body a transmitter to her lost future as they try to work out how to save the little of the world they still have. (In the meantime, the survivors have transplanted to the moon, a staging place before they take themselves to other barren landscapes further from the sun if they can’t work out how to get the drowned Earth back.)

Six years after arriving through a tunnel of improbability and bent light, the transmitter is still transmitting.

The receiver broke, though, six months after her arrival. A man wanted to take something she wasn’t interested in giving, and he grabbed her and insisted on having what he wanted.

Journey broke his arm in three places, four of his ribs, and his neck. The parts of his body were weighed down and went into the river. Journey feels a little bad about the death, but where she comes from, he and everyone around her died hundreds of years ago, so it doesn’t bother her too much.

Journey is surrounded by ghosts, in many ways. Some of these fleshly ghosts are awful, frightening things. Some are sweet or kind or funny. None of them know their fate, but Journey does, so mostly she is willing to offer the benefit of the doubt. She’ll live and let live because they’re all dead, but they don’t know it yet.

Journey didn’t realise the receiver had been snapped from her ear in the struggle until later, and then she couldn’t find the missing piece. Perhaps she could have repaired it, but she decided not to. It was so much more peaceful not to listen to the commands, the directions, the directives. To the envy and the anger and the railing against the people who appeared all so unwittingly in her transmissions, who were partly at fault for the Death of the Earth by Flood and Fire.

Journey knows that each individual couldn’t do much to stop it, and she knows that collectively, humans are a bit thick.

She has been inhabiting her past, creeping towards a future she won’t live to see again, and she likes it here.

Journey likes that she can’t go home. She likes that she’ll never hear those strident voices through the receiver again. She likes that she still sends them data – it’s a relief that it was not the transmitter that was lost – but she loves that they cannot summon her home.

Good luck to them, if they think the data will save them somehow. She’s sad for the future, of course – for what they’ve lost and what they’ll never have, living on their island of rock, gazing down at the blue ball that used to be humanity’s home.

She used to be like them, salvaging hope from the away teams that go (went, will go) to salvage scraps from the ball of water and wasteland that once housed a trillion life forms. The fraction that remain are all caged in some way. Animals and insects in the great Moon Zoo – too many slowly dying off because the gravity and the air are all wrong. Plants in greenhouses, and no-one can predict yet which will thrive and which will fail.

Not to mention the people. In their domes and in their environment suits that don’t always work. Humanity is ingenous at survival but also, it seems, at self immolation. The individual will to live is nothing like the collective lunacy that convinces people that someone else will fix it.

But here, in the past full of ghosts, Journey already knows that no-one fixed it. She already knows the limited life that awaits the survivors.

So Journey goes through her ghost life, enjoying every simple pleasure before it’s burned or drowned, and she breathes the open air and is content to just be in the moment.

After all – what could she possible do? She’s just one woman. She can’t change the future alone, and collective humanity won’t listen to her if she tries.

Because if it were possible, surely she’d have done it.

Lost and Found is an irregular series of posts about random items I find abandoned on the streets and the stories I make of them.

Lost and Found 7: Peaceful

Lost and Found 7In late December, while the world carried on in its usual mad dance, peace came to Altona.

It didn’t look much. Mistaken for a pendant, peace manifested itself as a small brass symbol, tiny and easily overlooked. A glint on the concrete, a shape made of lines and spaces.

A modest peace, its effect was localised and felt in tiny ways along the beachfront and in the park, along the streets and among the trees.

This little peace made the sound of gulls less of a strident, frustrated demand and more a cry of endless, beckoning horizons. The cry of a gull, for a time, was a response from the great blue sky that answered isolation and made the world less lonely.

It made the cold, rough waters invigorating rather than daunting; it made the child gaping wide-eyed at the never-ending sea wonder at adventures on other shores instead of fearing the waves, and she body-surfed back to the beach with the feeling that she could fling herself at the motion of the world and never be afraid.

The people who stepped over this unseen symbol on the footpath felt for a moment that all was well or, if not currently well, that it soon would be, or could be. Some of those whose feet hovered above it for that moment felt the urge to forgive a wrong, to take a kindlier view, to judge less harshly.

Some of them forgave not others but their own selves for frailty and perceived failure, and saw that it was in the striving to improve rather than in failing at perfection that their better selves could be brought to light.

In the park, a grandfather, ill-tempered with aches and disappointments, halted an impatient snarl and instead looked at the leaf presented by a small grandchild, and recognised the leaf as an offering and a request, even if the child didn’t know it. The world is huge and fascinating, Grandpa, and it’s so so new to me, show me, show me, show me how to grow in it, oh please.

This modest peace was not a place of stillness. All the world is ceaseless change, much of it unconsidered and reactive, at the whim of chance and resistance, violence and cacophony. But some change happens in the quiet, in the momentary peace, in the pause between breaths.

The change of peace is gentle, a flow that is soft and yet profound, like rain on stone, like roots in the soil. It is a way to tilt the world, to see old things anew; it is the contemplative moment in which the familiar is rearranged and new patterns bloom with potential.

Nobody knows how many little peaces exist in the world. Nobody knows if they bring the peace with them or manifest spontaneously in hushed moments. This tiny symbol is no longer in Altona. Perhaps it was seized upon by a child, or a magpie, or a street sweeper. Perhaps it dissolved on the sea air.

Perhaps in a warm and silent moment, someone will manifest it out of their own brain, and like rain on stone, like roots in soil, a small but significant change will bloom.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year, and that something good will bloom for you in 2014.

Lost and Found 7 (2)

Lost and Found is an irregular series of posts about random items I find abandoned on the streets and the stories I make of them.>

Lost and Found 6: Miracles

Montreal Sept 2013The smashed crutch was found in Montreal, at the seedier end of Chinatown. The number of pieces indicated a particularly vehement dislike of the thing.

The popular image of a faith-healed cripple, tossing a walking aid jubilantly in the air as they skipped chirpily from the scene of their salvation was clearly inaccurate. The image conjured by this wreckage of a crutch was more one of vindictive rage. Fuck you, crutch, the pieces said, I always hated you. Fuck off and never come back.

If it hadn’t been for Rosy the Bag Lady, the whole shards-of-crutch incident might have gone unnoticed. But she told someone about the man she’d seen, hobbling along on one crutch. About the angelic little child who had appeared out of nowhere and held hands out to the man. The man had fallen to the ground with a cry, and the child had petted his legs, lifted the crutch, snapped it in two and fled, giggling, into a mist.

To be fair, the first person she told didn’t believe a word of it, because Rosy the Bag Lady was pretty famous among her set for seeing things. Celine Dion bickering with William Shatner over a poutine, aliens singing French karaoke, Jacques Cartier in a bearskin coat, and talking patchwork cats weren’t the half of it.

But by her twentieth retelling, the story had gained some credence, partly because it was being told in loops all around the streets of Montreal. It had been overheard and retold in a dizzy spiral of rumour and breathless hope from the Parc du Mont-Royal to the coffee houses of Mile End; from the biodome of St Helen’s Island and up and down the banks of the St Lawrence River; whispered in the plain corridors of the underground city and amongst the ripest tomatoes of the Jean-Talon market.

People began to visit the grimy street where the miracle was said to have happened. Flowers were left, and notes thanking god, fate, the stars, the mysteries for kindness given, and begging, of course, for one more, just one, gesture of grace. Someone yarnbombed a nearby lamppost with a colourful offering; graffiti of joy got painted over the corrugated iron and the filthy brick.

And a man came, who limped, and stared down at the pieces of a crutch, painted now with happy acrylic daisies, woven through with plastic ivy and rain-damped wool.  Like all the other visitors to this strange holy site of hope, he brought one question and left with new ones, although his new questions were unique.

If that little shit hadn’t tried to mug me, was his question, and broken my bloody crutch, and if I hadn’t finished the job on his thieving skull, would he have staggered off and fallen off the overpass onto the freeway? And does this mean I got away with murder?

Still and all, he gave thanks, and limped away on his newly healed broken ankle, and swore to live a better life.

Lost and Found 5: Plot Bunny

Plot BunnyShe is small, to hold so much rage in her. Small and ferocious and so, so tired. She had to dig her way out again, and her with no bones, no muscles, just cotton and stuffing, weeping all the while.

Dig she did, though, and she found the sky again, and now she seeks something more. It will take a long time to find it (to take it) she has no doubt.

But revenge is patient, yes it is. Revenge has time enough. A dish best served cold, they say. Has no use-by date, they say.

It is a long way home, but that’s all right. That will give her time to think, to plan, to plot.

The days and weeks and months she’ll spend wending homeward will provide so much careful, burning time to decide which of them to punish – or punish first, at least – and how best to share with her enemies how it felt.

How it felt to be seized in hot, hard jaws and taken away.

How it felt to realise that Beloved Little One didn’t raise a squeak of protest, being too enamoured of the splash of low-breaking waves on the sand to notice or care that the Beast was in motion, Bunny in its mouth.

How it felt to hear Uncaring Adult say in a bored, peeved tone ‘No, Cheezle, put Bunny back; bloody dog,’ as ineffectively as a cat protesting, with no real interest, the closing of a door.

How it felt that no-one came to her rescue.

How it felt that nobody cared, and that Older Bully only laughed when she saw Cheezle carrying Bunny away on the beach.

A heart of cotton and stuffing (but a heart all the same) can still break when it understands the words: ‘I’m not digging my way up and down the beach to find that bloody rabbit. Amelia has plenty of toys at home. Forget it. It’s starting to rain. Let’s leave.’

Bunny, down in her damp and sandy grave, buried there by Cheezle (jealous Cheezle, vicious Beast) was afraid, and then bereft, and then forlorn, and then outraged, and then enraged, and then, oh then, so full of fury and fire and hatred that despite the softness of her unboned limbs, the tatters of her stuffing heart, she began to dig.

Rabbits dig, you know. Even the soft ones. Even the ones made of cotton and polyester and tagged with washing instructions, they can dig, if properly motivated. Usually they burrow into little hearts, making a kindly warren of comfort and safety; days of play and nights of comfort, and those tunnels and dens make memories that keep old hearts gentle down the long, long years.

Bunny’s burrows of love and comfort have been blasted and filled with stones, this day. Instead, Bunny dug up, up, up from the pit where Cheezle (filthy Cheezle, the Beast who will know what it is to be sorry) buried her.

A moment’s pause by the sea, by the vast desert made of millions of pulverised bones and stones and dead things, and then Bunny will be off to fulfill her purpose.

Bunny will take whatever time and effort it takes to retrace her steps; to follow the path that the Metal Toybox on Wheels took to bring her to this cold and loveless shore. She will return to the home she knew and lay waste to Older Bully and Uncaring Adult and Cheezle the foul Beast and even Beloved Little One, faithless tiny bitch that she is, and Bunny will know what it is to be drenched in blood as well as sea and sand.

And they, the family that spurned her, will know what it is to be mauled and buried and left unmourned to be swallowed by the sea.

Oh yes, they will.

Lost and Found is an irregular series of posts about random items I find abandoned on the streets and the stories I make of them.