I grew up in rural England, so spent much of my childhood going back and forth from red-brick houses in old cavaliers.
“A good, reliable car.” My dad would say, showing us his newest purchase.
“It’s green.” We said. Red was better.
Longer journeys in the green cavalier were to see grandparents, hours speeding down motorways, rain beating against the roof. In between cassette tapes of Disney songs and fairy-tales, we’d race droplets across windows and blow hard onto the glass, playing hangman in the steam.
“Stop breathing!” Mum would call back to our squirming bodies, blasting air against the…
The clothes are stuck. He grabs the handle and pulls again. The small screen flashes.
Error. Error. Error.
He stands up and shakes the machine. It’s heavy, and barely moves, but the rattle is satisfying.
How will he explain this in Danish? He thinks back to the classes last year, pulling together fragments.
“Mit tøj sidde fast.” He says to nobody.
“Maskinen er ødelagt.”
“Dine maskiner er lort.”
The security camera blinks. He stops abruptly.
The clothes look at him through the steamed-up glass. The backpack for festivals. The new black jeans. The roll-neck sweater from Japan. He wonders if…
I fall for his paper thin hands and woolen cardigan, the faint scent of mint and disinfectant. I fill birthday cards with kisses, scribbling x upon x, a patchwork of affection. We play bingo, small dice popping as we press each number down.
“Did I win?” I squeal.
He nods slowly, sipping sweet tea.
“Half a saccharine is enough for a brew,” he explains, cutting the small pill shaken from the white and red dispenser. I dip my finger in the trail of dust. It tastes bitter, like aspirin.
The clock chimes the hour as we sit on the floral…
You wander round the house in slippers and an old t-shirt. You stroke your fingers across the keyboard and wait for beauty and truth and insight to bubble up inside of you. You start googling remedies for motivation and energy and fill your browser with layer upon layer of tabs. Because tabs mean you are busy. Because tabs are something you can control.
Four hours later, eyes spent from Ted Talks and Buzzfeed articles, you drag yourself outside. You wander down the street, watching people rush to and from their appointments, and try to remember what accomplishment feels like. You…
When I lived in Spain, I had a typically slow freelance Friday. Work dragged. My pyjamas were very appealing. The couch quickly morphed from a desk to a lounger. Motivation was at an all time low.
So when I got a text at 12pm for an impromptu lunch date, I almost said no. But when I examined my reasons (lazing around and binge-watching Gilmore Girls) I realized this was a very poor excuse. It was Friday. This was a chance to meet new people and practice my Spanish. So after much humming and hawing, I said yes.
Spanish lunches are…
My parents knew a few humble braggers in their time. They came round in the holidays and subtly pointed out how brilliantly their business/child/house renovation was doing.
I vaguely remember these people loftily holding up their brandy glasses and criticising their bank for being too small to handle all their money. But as a child, I had that uncanny ability to run away whenever they came close. No offense was taken (no child was as intelligent/wonderful/emotionally developed as theirs anyway). It was all good.
Yet I noticed how adults would gravitate towards them and then quickly shuffle away, muttering about…
She looks through the crack in the door and sees the forgotten people. The wait a minute crowd staring into magazines.
The first pregnancy she weighed every ounce, checked every millimetre. The second she slouched deep into the couch and felt the cushions envelope her, the soft support weakening her back. The third she leaned on the floor, ample and cold.
How much longer? Her arms feel useless, no space for their weight now. The clock moves around them, five, ten, fifteen. They call her name. Was it over? Could they be free? …
There are many things that we rely on in life. Water, food, heating. WiFi, hugs, tea. Firefox, Netflix, Google Maps. Earplugs, moisturizer, 40 denier tights (perhaps that’s just me).
As a child, only food, water, heating and hugs were essential. Plus a few items from the Argos catalogue at Christmas. But as we have gotten older, our lists have inevitably grown. Not only because we have become more self-sufficient, but also because the world increasingly hands us things that are very, very useful.
I asked my boyfriend what he couldn’t live without, and his first response was “You.” Aw. But…
A while back I was at the wake of another family funeral. During the usual rounds of catch up, there was a rumble of interest about my decision to buy an apartment in another country. This seemed to settle in people’s minds that I was integrated, assimilated, and long gone from England.
“You’ve lived there for 6 years? You must be fluent in…what is it, Dutch?”
“Danish.” I replied.
They widened their eyes and nodded, seemingly impressed. I nodded back, before quickly changing the subject.
Since moving to Denmark indefinitely in 2012, the question of fluency is a recurring theme…