SLICE OF LIFE: This is not an informercial
“TIME heals all wounds”, surely you’ve heard that one? The problem is no one ever includes the “how” of this miracle-repair job. I’m here to help!
It is, simply, by bending time. You’ve heard that too, right? That time bends. I sense another “how”. On this score, I can only offer well-reasoned speculation and personal testimony. Yes, it may smell like late-night infomercial kind of advice. It isn’t. I found it all in a book so you can trust me. [pullquote]She is looking directly into the camera with a posed smile frozen on her face.[/pullquote]
You bend time by means of “landscape suicide”. Let me explain.
Landscape suicide (LS) is the attempt to erase your past or yourself from that past by packing it all up and going. Erasure through displacement. Even if it is circumstance forcing you to move on.
Inside the frame of curling corners, where the Prestik has been repeatedly attached and peeled off, my 12-year-old sister appears with freshly tonged hair, both arms held out in my direction. But not her eyes.
She is looking directly into the camera with a posed smile frozen on her face. The entire photo was staged. And, on closer inspection, perhaps a study of how the command to “say cheese” functions as a kind of Pavlov’s bell, quickly assembling inanimate objects into the most ludicrous stage setting.
In that picture, my sister is holding a gold, plastic statue moulded into the figure of a sprinter in full flight. With her other hand she is shaking mine in
mock-congratulation.[pullquote align=”right”]That sweaty face of a wall, via the back-door, slithered into the magic moment. Into our carefully manufactured dream of time, bending it the wrong way.[/pullquote]The problem is that I am in full soccer kit. And I was truly up for the performance. Bleach-white shorts and pepper-red golfer. I remember carefully strapping on my shin-guards, pulling thick woollen socks to my knees and lacing my first pair of Puma Winger’s tightly around my ankles. I had been called up for duty and I wasn’t going to disappoint. I too, with frozen smile and a neatly combed pre-afro looked into the camera, and beyond it into the future. It was all fake but so real at the same time.
The two of us are standing on an island of dazzling green grass, a good distance from the putrid front wall of a ground-floor balcony. Not healthy enough though, because that grease and smoke-stained wall managed to sneak into the frame and into the cleansing light-bubble of the camera flash.
That sweaty face of a wall, via the back-door, slithered into the magic moment. Into our carefully manufactured dream of time, bending it the wrong way.
The picture, the ugly- wall part of it, represented the “landscape” that needed getting away from.
That entire block of flats, on a busy street in Booysens, was a crumbling wreck inside and out. Most of the people living there, like us, judging by suitcases stacked on the roofs of wardrobes and the ease with which a stranger was treated like family, wanted or had some other place to be.
My memory of how long we lived there is faded and grainy, like the picture itself. The school soccer season begins in early autumn. By mid-winter, on the day of my sister’s birthday, we were listening to the Springboks over the radio win their first World Cup trophy.
By then we had moved, the ugly landscape of the photograph erased.
When the picture was taken, we were desperate to be some place else and “wipe out” our history. Looking at the photograph now, those were happy times.
First soccer boots, first Rugby World Cup, first experience of city – even my first pie.
So, you want to bend time? Take a picture.