now here

Midsummer, big celebrations in Sweden, where I am now. Wearing my suit today, but mainly writing HERE these days: www.exercisesinbeinghere.blogspot.com


Standing on the shadow of the world

When the village sleeps I don’t.
I sit in the caravan like a nightowl and try to find words for what has happened during the day.
Ridiculous in a way.

Or maybe it is true.
Maybe it is like the man told me who passed by one day
to tell me he had bought a t-shirt in the Netherlands to support a seal rescue center
and smiled when he remembered the long days he had spent on a bike there.
“Fiets” he said, bike in Dutch and “doei!” when he left
and I answered “doei!”
A way of saying goodbye I haven’t used since I was living in the village where I was raised.
A village the same size as Cerkno.
A word that doesn’t get its meaning from a specific use or combination of words that mean something else in a different setting,
like farewell for example, fare well,
and for which I am sure there is a linguistic term the man I talked to some evenings at the Jazz Festival Cerkno could have pulled out of his sleeve at an instant.

Maybe the man was right when I explained him I didn’t have a home but I was wandering the world to make a living
and he said “like a clown”
and he added a questionmark
“like a clown?”
and I laughed and I said “do I look like a clown?’

I was still wearing the red woolen dress I wear every morning when I bake the bread,
now devoid of the white flower dots.
The dress that was once bought by a woman in New York
when she was celebrating her wedding anniversary there
and was given to me by her daughter in the Nomadic Village last year,
when all the Nomads had brought me a clothing item to wear
and every day I represented a collection of their tastes.
Red dress, blue tights and the golden shoes with three kinds of shoe laces,
golden, silver and black & white.
The shoes I had bought at an auction for a good cause the day before I left Barcelona to travel here.

“Do I look like a clown?”
He shook his head.
But a red nose or a red woolen baker’s dress,
a big white mouth or a body covered in white dusty flower stains,
big floppy shoes or golden ones with the word LOVE spelled on their toes
are similar things.

I have an old fashioned suitcase with me.
Inside there are people,
glued on the upper part of the case.
Two bearded men with shiny eyes in suits, white shirts and bow tie
a handsome woman in a white dress sitting next to a chique white dog,
another woman in a white dress in front of a mirror, bending over,
her face invisible.
A child with a sailor’s cap, dancing.
A woman resembling Grace Kelley, reading to two small kids
and a woman in a shiny skirt, standing in front of a flowery wall,
holding an image of a bird.

I found the suitcase next to a garbage container in Barcelona,
like I found all the clothes I carry around in the suitcase on the streets.
The people were already in there.
I embroidered my memories of the city in the pockets of the abandoned clothes
and now I am travelling slowly through Europe like an old-fashioned travelling salesman, saleswoman.
Selling them to earn money for the homeless in Barcelona,
because they can’t choose their homelessness.
I can.

Today I was wearing a blue dress from my collection,
a night dress.
It has an owl on the back in grey,
grey accents on the pockets and edges
(although I am not sure if you can use the word “edges” when you talk about clothing items).
I walked through the village in my dress,
inbetween the big bus that used to be an Austrian police vehicle and is our town hall
and the caravan that is my workspace and will be our gallery soon, Galeria Nowhere,
and I noticed they had the exact same colours as my dress,
blue and grey.
I fit in here.

But I don’t have to wear the dress for that.

Anyway, most days I wear a suit,
a three piece walking suit like they called it in the old days,
like it is still officially called these days
although most people aren’t aware of it.
I use my suits for walking.
I believe in words.
When something is called a walking suit it must be meant for walking.
And I meant to walk here,
not all the way, like I did last year when I walked from Amsterdam to the Nomadic Village in Austria,
but a 100 kilometers only, from the north of Italy which was the first Nomadic meeting point to here.
100 kilometers in 10 days, plenty of time to be slow and get lost.

I got lost in Barcelona though.
I couldn’t leave in time.
So I travelled by bus and train, through France, Belgium, the Netherlands,
Germany, Austria, all the way here,
carrying 4 snails with me and a small sunflower,
doing deliveries on my way, talking to people, 10 days it took me.

In the Netherlands I brought an army green coat with a small metal plane sewed on one sleeve
and the face of Bob Marley and the words “One Love” on the other, to a woman who had recently lost her husband after a marriage of 43 years, in its pocket the words “sitting inside, hearing the birds welcoming the sunset” embroidered in pale blue.
I delivered a beautiful red see-through blouse with the words “I almost became invisible” embroidered in gold in a breast pocket.
I handed over a tiny pair of jeans, bought as a present for a baby,
in its pocket the words “talking to them I forgot how old I was”.
And a golden jacket with a memory of the sea in it, the sadness of the sea.

I’ll get back to that later

That golden coat I delivered in Berlin where I stayed in a former Stasi office building
and when I walked around in that city in my suit with my black heavy suitcase I encountered a homeless man who asked me for money and when he asked if I had just arrived in the city I told him my story, I told him I was selling clothes with memories, memories in two ways
so I could give money to the homeless.
He told me he had had many professions, he had learned many things,
but once he was out of work he had lost it somehow, lost his girlfriend, his apartment, his money, his pride.
Now he didn’t know how to turn it around.
“Look at me” he said
“I can’t go to a job interview like this, people don’t even want to talk to me because I smell of alcohol.”
We talked for a long time, he asked me many questions and when he left he was smiling.
I gave him some money
“So you can buy some beers,” I said

But I am wandering off.

Back to the Village in my blue and grey dress.
It is a sunny day.
My snails are asleep or making love.
The sunflower is content.
We just finished our daily three course breakfast:
yoghurt and fruit, prepared by Tina
bread baked by me, today there is fig-pine nut-oregano bread and garlick-rosemary bread with a little bit of red pepper.
Eggs, prepared by one of the Village men
and now, after our bellies are full and we wait until somebody bakes a cake
a cake naming the day
chocolate monday, marzipan tuesday, apple wednesday
untill that is done and we meet again to drink coffee
everybody works on their projects.
Tina fills boxes with small prints and objects, Klaus works on his analogue photos or fixes a roof, Andi and Heidi prepare costumes and light projections, Francisca interviews people and is building a small installation, Simon and Mateja are not here but somewhere organising something for us.

And I walk through the Village in my blue dress and I stop when I see the shadow of the world in the middle of town, in front of the town hall.
And I stand on the shadow of the world and I look at the other world, high up in the sky next to the church, on top of a flag pole.

And later on I sit in the sun with a book and I take the necklace I’ve been wearing every single day since I found it in an old warehouse in North Carolina eight years ago, a tiny glass ball caught in a metal ring and I look through it and the sky turns green and the earth becomes blue, blue and white.
And I remember how Simon and Mateja told me that one day they were lying in the grass at night next to the church where they took me on Sunday to hear the oldest instrument in the world, a 50.000 year old flute, being played and from where you can see a star cut out inbetween the trees in the far distance as a memory of the partizans.
When they were there, that night, a while ago, there were meteorite showers and they saw many falling through the sky, they were looking up for hours until Mateja said “imagine that we weren’t looking up but looking down” and they did and it scared the hell out of them.

I put my necklace back on and I continue reading.
I grabbed the book last minute when I was in Amsterdam, in the place I once called home
the place that is still a home to my hundreds, maybe thousands of book.
I took it mainly because of its size, it fits in the inside pocket of my coat easily.
I open it where I left yesterday, it is a theater dialogue,
I read.
SHE “We don’t have time to waste time, we have to discover the worlds in our heads, catch them in words, share our discoveries with each other”
HE “Macbeth. ‘Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

The HE, the boy, is waiting for his father to return, his father who is a sailor.
The SHE, the girl, is escaping a home that doesn’t feel like home.
SHE and HE, 13 years old, in love, spend their days near water.
He looks up every day.
She looks down.
She looks up when he looks down
and sometimes they look into each other’s eyes,
but they only see themselves in the other.

I started reading the book on the first train station where I had to change trains in Slovenia,
where I had to wait for over an hour.
Where I sat at a bench across the station and stared at the green hills and the mountains in the not so far distance.
I had seen images of Cerkno.
I knew it was situated in a valley, surrounded by mountains.
I thought about Barcelona, the city I left, I am always leaving,
the city I had fallen in love with.
Because of the sea.
I sat on the bench, ate a cheese sandwich and a kiwi and searched for something to read, to kill time.
I found the book in my inside pocket.
I read its title.
Er was niet de zee
“there was not the sea”

And there isn’t.

Even when I went to the supermarket in Cerkno yesterday to buy blue thread, my favorite colour, to work on the embroideries on the inside of my jacket, the small drawings that tell the story of my journey, the story of my attempts to get lost, I couldn’t find a blue.

There was lots of green in many shades,
but when I passed the shelves with handy things, tools, ropes
I saw a thick rope in a sea blue.

And i bought it to tie down my memories of Cerkno and its people
memories of green days on golden shoes
wrapped up in the most beautiful colour I know.

And it isn’t really the colour of the sea.
It is the colour of the sky reflected in the sea
the colour of the sky in Barcelona which is the same sky as the sky over Cerkno.