Dance of the honeybee’s memories

Fields of gold outside Besigheim, Germany

Fields of gold outside Besigheim, Germany

When I get Charlotte at school there’s an Italian girl who looks big for her age who’s taken to her but in an overly touchy way, scruffing her like a puppy and squeezing her too tight, and we have to pretend we’re going somewhere else to get away from her, and take the long way home.

Charlotte says there’s a reason some people don’t have friends and you should go with those who have many, they must be better — but I caution her, those people may just go through friends like candy, it’s better to have a small group you can really connect with.

And I teach her how to say “I don’t like it” in German so she can tell the Italian girl to stop touching her and give her a chance to understand why people may not want to be her friend, and Charlotte repeats it on the way up the road in the morning.

The steps up the Himmelsleiter, the stone steps that translate to Heaven’s Ladder and lead up to the vineyards, is overgrown now with grass damp with the morning dew, and my shadow goes long on the path below; it reminds me of Peter Pan’s shadow, the production we saw in Stratford, and passing the childhood home of the author in Scotland, how the story was born from the death of a sibling, his mother’s grief, and how he lived in the shadow of his mother’s loss.

And after the show in Stratford, Charlotte and I trace the floors outside the theater on a treasure hunt to learn about the making of the production, and one of the stops features a replica of a student’s desk from that time, and I remember a friend I knew and lost in the fifth grade, who got some rare disease from a mosquito bite that made his brain swell up and he couldn’t survive the surgery, and it was Good Friday when my parents told me what happened and said they were sorry, and dad and I walked down to the creek and talked about it, but I couldn’t cry.

The teacher left his desk empty in the middle of the class the rest of the year, the same way they did in the production after Wendy’s brother dies, and I wanted to lift the lid to see if his bag of marbles was still inside so I could have something to remember him by but felt weird about it, and didn’t understand my true intentions.

And it was probably outside a large estate where we stayed in a small town near Arbroath in Scotland where I got the tick, and carried it with me on my leg all the way across the Highlands past the author J.M. Barrie’s house to Inverness, and had to Google How to remove a tick when I discovered it, but by then it was plump as an overripe berry and I broke the head off in the webbing behind my knee, and had to use a capful of good Scotch to sterilize it.

And it was this time of year we met Gilles, the Parisian who lives up the road from my mom who fled a life in California in the wine business over a failed relationship, who came here to disappear but resurfaced with my mom, because even outsiders need company — and when Dawn’s mom came that April her husband had just died in February and she was in a fog of grief, and Gilles was reading Physics, like he understood it so well he had his own theories, and told Dawn’s mom her belief in Easter, in god, was ridiculous, impossible, and her mom fled the room and it was like a stink bomb had gone off in the house, and we had to ask him to leave.

I explain to Charlotte there are people who take from you and people who give, and it takes experience to learn the difference. That maybe we’re like ticks ourselves, sometimes feeding off others, taking their blood — and how other types of people are more like bees gathering pollen, and if we’re lucky in life, we’ll make more flowers than bites.

Dawn and I spend our wedding anniversary in Vienna and go to the Belvedere for a Klimt exhibit but I’m wrung out by the weight of all the artists, their self-portraits and long stares, so much to say and the knowledge they never will, and even if they do it won’t be understood, it won’t be the same and they won’t make any kind of living out of it — and despite all that they must, they just hang there waiting to be seen.

And our kids are starting to dress like the homeless or artists themselves with mismatched clothes and holes in the knees, and I guess you better get used to that look if you want to do art, they’re two sides of the same coin, it’s one reason Bob Dylan probably got confused as a thug and stopped for questioning in a residential neighborhood after dark, he still looks dark and disheveled in spite of himself.

When we check out of the hotel in Vienna on Sunday we have an extra hour at the train station and debate if we should get an earlier train but learn that we can’t, and decide to just settle in and relax, to get a warm lunch and a pilsener — and by the time we get to the top of the platform our train is just pulling up, we’re right on schedule, it’s time to go.

This post is a continuation of one I published yesterday, with some rewrites and new content, that touches on the idea of memory and how it can change and be edited.


Categories: musings, writing

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

22 replies

  1. Resonant, Bill. Now you’ve got me intrigued with the memory thing – how our conscious mind might continually re-work it. But then somewhere in our subconscious (where apparently nothing is forgotten) there must be the master copy – or can that, too, become ‘corrupted’ by our conscious/unconscious invention? Feel an attack of Proust coming on…

    Liked by 1 person

    • OK that’s totally weird because I was just writing about PROUST to another blogger friend I’m hoping to meet this summer. I had to set Marcel down. I think if I met that guy in person I’d have to slap him, but it’s unlikely we’d ever meet because he’d be inside moping or wanking, that one. (Sorry, I thought I could talk that way here, and you’d get a chuckle.) But I’m glad you like that memory thing idea, the notion of a master copy. I see it like files being resaved, replacing the former. It’s strange and compelling, tying together former visits here to Germany and interconnected stories that are bound by themes. Fun stuff. Hope the weather is good for you up there. I’m going to a spring beer festival with Eberhard in a couple hours and have my outfit on, it usually ends poorly when you put on a costume and start drinking you know? Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • Proust is up there in the pantheon of untouchables, like Joyce or Sartre; people I have no business reading and wouldn’t understand it if I tried. Pretty smart of me, right?

        Liked by 1 person

      • You’re on to something. They’re the porn stars of literature. Stuff like that never happens to normal people.


      • “it usually ends poorly when you put on a costume and start drinking you know” That is so funny, Bill. And spot on with Proust. I love his outdoors writing, but feel smothered by his indoors scenes, and yes the man lived in his bed, and yes, utterly self-absorbed. It took me over a year to read vol 1 of A la recherche. A wonderful soporific as bedtime reading – one sentence per night…Have a great day in your lederhosen (LOL). Don’t overheat. And yes we have sun here! Time to plant more spuds.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I did that too with the Proust: I read it before bed, a few pages a time. Who am I to poke fun here about self absorption right? It’s all worth a laugh, better to laugh than whine. Just installed a new washing machine with Eberhard in my moms sphagnum scented laundry room, in my liederhosen. I wish John Cleese were here, it’s good material.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dylan was picked up not that far from where I live. If you saw the area, you’d understand why all that went down. A bunch of scared white people who think every strange face is after their money or out to hurt their family. The reality is they haven’t seen serious crime in decades and could leave their doors unlocked.


  3. I will be fascinated to learn what you think/feel/remember once you return to the Seattle area. When all of your impressions have turned to mash and get the chance to distill themselves (okay I’m pushing the metaphor way too far but you get where I’m trying to take it)…. you will write (more) really wonderful things.


    • Thanks Jadi, I feel the same. Funny how you can’t write about something really when you’re in it, like the tourist with the camera on the whale watching tour isn’t really there with their camera…ok, and that’s enough with the metaphors for one day right? I’m going to Bad Cannstatt now. Can you tell I’m excited? I just got my bandanna out. Bill


  4. I love the idea that you don’t have to make a living out of art. Makes the self portrait stare feel a bit less hungry, maybe. I like how you explained why you needed a break in yesterday’s post and also the extras on Gilles and the Italian girl. Someone like that is hard to tear away from, despite and maybe because of their hunger.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, lots to pick through with Gilles. Complicated, what makes things interesting for sure. Having fun and glad, grateful you’re reading, thanks Kristen. Bill


  5. To abuse one of the metaphors, bee’s attract pollen because they’re positive. Literally – and staying true to form by using someone else’s words to say something.


  6. I chuckled at your note, because as I was reading it, I was thinking, “Bill’s working through the ideas he touched on yesterday, letting the tea leaves settle in a slightly different configuration.” I have to stop doing that — scrutinizing your writing and thinking about what I’m going to say about it even as I’m reading. It’s like talking to someone who you know can’t wait to interrupt you.
    The insect metaphors are charming, though. Be the bee.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cool you thought that. Me, after the beer festival. A thick gauze on the night, comfort in the lack of feeling but no poetry there. Sorry: you had it coming. Bill


  7. Nice metaphor – bees versus tics. Bees: many busy, productive creatures that create sweetness and beauty. Tics: many blood sucking creatures mainly in it for themselves – oh wait, I guess that’s poli-tics.


    • Thank you Dave — I’m glad you liked it. Easy, springtime metaphor right? Don’t have to look too far to see either, where we are here. Had a tic crawling across my stomach as I was drafting this, but got the little bastard by the neck and put him down the toilet. Poli-tics is good. Hard to feel when they get their jaws inside you.

      Liked by 1 person

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