ever had your thighs stick to plastic? in the middle of summertime? it requires a shit ton of patience to peel yourself free from it’s tricky little polymer grip. i had it down to an art.
my parents had this living room. it was covered in plastic. the couch, the lamps, even the carpet … all covered with this sheer plastic covering.
they referred to it as the good living room.
the good living room was for special guests only. notably, it was rare a guest was deemed special enough to enter. all in all, the good living room was a tough nut to crack.
i snuck in anyway.
there was a time when the good living room was just called … the living room. it was before all the renos. that living room saw a lot of living. my folks struggled considerably when they first moved to canada. and they struggled considerably with one another. considerably is a careful word. nonetheless, the living room held space for a lot of that considerable struggle … especially the barrel couch with the bar cabinet built right into it’s centre.
i snuck me some sweet tastiness from that bar cabinet sometimes when they were not looking. fermented cherry wine. from greece. the best.
in one of his renos, my dad transformed the basement into a den of sorts. the basement had been this dark and damp place. a place for only storage and the furnace. very creepy. there’s this story of my eldest sister bumping her head into a lamb that was hanging there to bleed out in the dark … i understand she had thought it was a pet … my parents had it grazing in the front yard for a while. i suppose it was going to serve as dinner for the upcoming week. new greeks living in tough ol’ montreal north. we must have been a sight. i really should check in with my sisters to verify the validity of this story … families tend to create myths in memory.
so then, the original living room became a do not enter zone. new furniture was bought. matching lamps were placed on small round marble tables. a new carpet was laid. and dozens of mirrors with a faint vine decal painted on them were attached to one of the walls to give the room the appearance of grandeur. the whole thing was meticulously covered up in this sheer protective cover. everything but the mirrors. but then again, they did have a smokey tint to them … so.
we were no longer allowed to play in there.
can this be considered gentrification? sorry bleeding lamb(s?), we’re moving in. too many memories in the old living room. got us a reno going on in there … right now, it’s too smothered in off-gasses. so, yeah, this place has potential … nice … thanks for the basement. never been lived in, has it? you were just hanging around for a while? we’ll lay down some carpet, clean off the walls and put up twinkly lights. the kids can play their music real loud in this new space. we’ll plaster stucco on the ceiling … a snazzy design to remind us of our heritage … two inch spikes of gypsum dripping from above … stalactites that’ll scratch the top of your head if you’re taller that 6’ and not too careful.
a little while ago, i discovered a saran wrap-thin coating of plastic hidden deep within my being. it was fitted so securely on the inside of my visceral body, my dura mater. i had no idea it was there. invisible on the outside. genius. i noticed it when it began to manifest in chronic back and neck pain, limiting my movement, forcing me to turn in. a kinetics session with a brilliant body worker uncovered everything. the practitioner placed a small ball under my pain, did some cranio-sacral work as my back was releasing and all of a sudden, a gripping cold white fear ran through my upper back. childhood memories. flooded out. rage. mine. and what i had absorbed from my dad. his anguish. a body imprint … a psychophysical photograph of sudden and violent impact. experienced as a baby. i had stopped breathing for a bit apparently. he vowed to get his shit together. it would be a struggle. my dad. an actual decent human being. who did some solid things. like feed his family. and was class parent in all my school field trips. who waved at me from the audience like a silly person whenever i was performing in a high school play. who also had a temper. struggling so hard to make ends meet. to get a hold of his life. to make appearances. he didn’t quite know what to do with his pain. he just kept adding rooms to the house. every few years, a new reno. every few years, another room deemed untouchable.
repressed trauma. what flooded out was new information. and it floored me. when the plastic was stripped, i shook for weeks. i wept and wept and rattled and burst. and throughout it all, something in me was shouting finally! my nakedness held me by the hand. all you’ve got to do now is keep witnessing it. live in it. feel it. let it move its way through you. let all that stuck energy move about and disperse. breathe.
strangely, part of the healing included forgiving myself for the imprint. not for having done anything wrong. but simply for the act of imprint. of forgiving the layer of protection. my rational brain still has a challenging time wrapping itself around that. but its what’s healed my back pain.
i remember helping my mother remove the plastic covering in the good living room on those rare moments when people were actually expected to enter the forbidden space. the plastic sheet that had covered the carpet had these little cleats in it so that it could grip the carpet better and keep it from slipping off. when we would remove the plastic covering, the carpet had these little permanent grooves in it.
i used to caress the grooves in the carpet to help the fibres spread out a bit easier. so, i guess, forgiving the imprint was a kind of caress. maybe a better word for the whole process is understanding.
back pain released, i’ve started strengthening exercises again. which allow for more supportive body investigations and impulses to fly physically free. so, yay for freedom. rebirth. restoration. i’m back to choreographing and demonstrating in my teaching.
the body … such a whisperer
gentrification is a motherfucker …
home. i am
free. i am
… a big thank you to my hand-holders, my heart pals, my therapist, my body workers. they were a blessed buoy to me throughout.