Frustration. Slow boil. Maybe I should move. Do I want to live in an apartment where I can’t hang flowers in my window? Then again, she is asking nicely (or not, maybe only my poor
French makes me think she is asking nicely), why am I so adamant? Would my life really change, be less rich, if
I took the lovely hanging pot of petunias and geraniums down from my window? I
hate her. She is a stupid cow! How can she complain about the flowers that fall
on her terrace? And the small tree pods that sometimes Salomé brings in her
mouth and drops by the door and that apparently are called “nids de hirondelle” or swallow nests and
that she claims she must pick up two or three times a day. What an exaggeration!
So every time it rains she gets a shower of dead flowers
and leaves on her porch table and (she claims) inside her door in the dining
room (at least that is what I understood). Well she can clean it up! I want my
flowers, damn it! Ok, it is shoe time: what if I were in her shoes? Supposing
the neighbor left droppings on my doorstep every time he took his garbage out?
Would I complain? Would I ask him to be more careful, or to consider taking his
garbage out in some other way so that I didn’t have to be sweeping up my
doorstep every time he took his garbage out? Yes. Ok, so my hanging flower pot
is dropping its garbage on her terrace and she is asking me to do something
about it. I intellectually understand this. Why then, the level of combat juice
that is rushing through my veins, why the rage and the tantrum? Why the feeling
of shame if I do what she asks and put my hanging pot on a tree in the back
yard? Why do I feel as if I have been humiliated if I do this?
I notice myself struggling, the feeling is terrible and I
hate it. When the question arises: “Should I move?” it makes me think of, “should
I throw myself out the window?” Where would I go that I wouldn’t meet ten more
of these ‘neighbors’? It is fascinating to watch and feel all these reactions
and thoughts pumping through my reality. It is also extremely uncomfortable.
The fact is that I do not like to be told what to do; I hate not having my way;
I hate not getting exactly what I want when I want it; I hate being told I am
not perfect and not doing everything exactly as it should be done; and I hate
anyone I have to run into again and again (she cares for the building and is an
institution here, like a doorman or a janitor) to do it. I hate “eating crow”!
I hate bowing my head! And above all, I hate the fact that I know I will have
to do it in the long run. There is something in me that would rather kill than
concede. War. War in my heart and it feels awful.
As I write this, I turn every once in a while to see the
beauty of the hanging pot with the geraniums and petunias, and every muscle in
my body rebels. “I WANT MY POT!” the little girl screams. And a memory comes of
I must have
been seven or eight, no more. My grandmother took me to see the Rockettes
during the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall in New York. It was
the afternoon matinee for children and we filled the hall which has a capacity
of over 5000. I don’t really know if I remember the show from that day or from
having seen it later again and again, both live and on the screen, but what I
do remember was that at one point an announcer came out carrying a monkey on
his shoulder. One glance and I fell in love with the monkey: I wanted that
monkey. The animal was to be raffled off at the end of the show by drawing a winning
ticket from a container. That was it! At that moment, my whole being willed
that number to be mine, it had to be mine, I wanted that monkey more than
anyone else, and more than anything else in life, more than my parent’s love,
more than returning home, more than my grandmother who I adored. I knew I had
to have that monkey. That’s why I don’t know if I actually saw the show or just
sat there wishing with all my heart, mind and body that the monkey would fall
I couldn’t believe it. I sat there as if someone had shot me through the heart,
and knowing I was going to die on the spot. I wailed, I cried, I pleaded with
my poor grandmother who was at a loss as to what to do. I refused to get out of
the seat, I pulled on her skirt, I screamed and stomped my feet. It really felt
as if I were dying: life without that monkey was no longer possible. I can
remember to this day. Finally, my grandmother sat down beside me and put her
arms around me: “Don’t cry, I think you are beautiful,” she whispered in my ear
and something happened. I managed to snuggle into those arms, hide my face in
her bosom and find enough relief to stop crying.
memory reincarnates today with the Middle East war going on inside me over a
flower pot that leaves its droppings on another person’s terrace, I begin to
softly cry, actual tears sliding down my cheeks, remembering my grandmother,
remembering her words “Don’t cry, I think you are beautiful,” and I don’t know
whether I am crying out of nostalgia, or gratitude, or love, or even if it is
all the same thing, and gently I say to myself: “don’t hurt, I think I am
beautiful and it is so simple to hang the pot outside the back window where
there are no terraces,” and there is the solution, there is the peace, there is
the win-win that has to be possible in every situation.
I just love
that little girl inside! She is so incredibly alive and present, and always
manages to take me to the best possible solution. Suddenly, there is nothing
but love in my heart and I am once more returned to life. What a relief: I don’t
have to move.