Page 27 of The Book (the big red book of A215 not the Other Book) suggested some ideas for clustering, so I chose an apparently innocuous one of 'photo album'. Wow! I was going to do one of the others first but this one dragged my distinctively terrible handwriting all over the page. there's something seductive about not have to stay on the lines. Images popped into my head faster than I could write them down:
Pressed memoires like butterflies or flowers
Transitions like births and weddings with apprehension and happiness in equal measure
Smiles hiding lies
People pretending they don't hate having their picture taken
People who love their picture taken
People you don't recognise in family photos, with you
People who are dead but still smiling
Moments when I was younger, thought differently about the world
Emotions so important at the time but now gone
I'm going to do a freewrite from this cluster, see where it takes me.
I remember sorting through a dead relatives belongings, seeing moments when we were apart, how we don't see the other parts of that person's life at all and yet it goes on when we take our egocentric viewpoint away. Lost loves, intense feelings gone, dusty, faded, curled at the edges. Soon everyone who knows who the people are will be gone. Cryptic messages on the back. 'DB at Bourne.' 'Dad with B 1953'. 'Polly before wedding'. Some of these people are my family, some share my DNA, have touched my history. They are fixed in time like fossils in rock, buried under more layers of time, and dust, and folded, cracked photgraphs. Maybe they will be revealed later. Phony smiles, show-off smiles, deceitful smiles. Uncle Fred at the wedding with Gladys, but we all know he was shagging one of the bridesmaids. Her smile is bigger, too. Gladys looks like she's won but history awarded the dubious prize of my great uncle's body and half his wordly goods to the second bridesmaid from the left. Children sat on Uncle Jim's knee, one after the other. Now we know why. Sly smile from Uncle Jim. Solemn frowns on the faces of the children. One scowling child is trying to get away but his hard, tobacco scented arm gripped tightly. I think that was me. I love antique fairs, the boxes of crap left at the end. They often have photos, neither beautiful enough nor identifiable so of no value, but each one holds such a sepia story. Triumphs, loves, losses, lies.
Well, the process seems to work, even if it's unsettling! I have 'The end of the affair; 'getting older'; and 'suspicious' still to do.