Sometimes it is a joy to wander. To move under the sky and discover dreams hiding under the pebbles. I believe I learnt this from my grandfather — who sets out every day with the resolute business of seeing the world again as if it has toppled upside down the second that he turned his back to it. My curiousity for the topsy-turvy sensation led me to discover the peculiarities of the darkest corners of my grandmother’s house in the country.
One morning when I was about six years old and just beginning to really grow, I stumbled into a journey of certain significance that only now, since I have lost my glorious spontaneity, do I reflect on. The grown-ups had begun their day as any other — choosing to deeply involve themselves in the six hour process of potato peeling that would contribute to the dinner that I would inevitably miss — so distracted was I by the glimpse of a black bird ruffling the table top.
Where had this bird come from? Merely pea-sized; as quick as a bee, it vanished! My slippers had already set off on the road under the table before my limbs raced in pursuit.
Upon immediate confrontation with a mess of spiky spikes I fumbled and lost my trail of thought — the black bird and its appearance that is. Quite naturally, in my state of bewilderment, I struggled with my footing and dove mind first into the grasp of the reality of my situation. I thus proceeded to hurry past the chickens; look around the house for a minute or two; and slowly follow the garden path to two sets of stairs — one large and one small.
“If only I always had the choice of ‘bigness’.” I thought to myself, as I hopped up the childlike set with an unusual ease that even left me with the generous time to ponder on the unusual rigidity of square patterns of garden. These stiff rectilinear extrusions had no business being so straight.
Suddenly my heart jumped, for over the top of the stairs was a swing! There could not be a better reward for the effort of an ascent. Swinging upside down, upright and down again I was content gazing across the drama of the universe. I recall everything else lingering in magical fever amidst the perpetual fragrance of smoked meat and potato. In truth, the universe appeared before me as a simple field only with a child’s added hope of its potential for enormity.
I felt the urge to run through it; to break the ties that held me to my house and join the birds in the freedom of flight. It seemed simple enough to step across the wall and see where this new ground leads. Once again I was at the mercy of hasty intuition — I found myself running millions of steps through corridors more narrow and longer than I had ever traversed and filled with regular shapes floating in the vast expanse like subterranean stars that this unusual gravity had simply pulled out from under the surface beneath my feet.
“Oh Joy!” I thought — what a monotony of difference! A word, admittedly, that I could not have imagined back then when every sparkle had a name and impression of its own. Engrossed in the illusory depth of these corridors, my eyes failed to recognise the abundance of activity around me. Only when I had stopped running did I realise the chasing rabbits that had been trailing my path with curiousity. My own reason for the pause however, was that roughly halfway through my travel I heard what appeared to be the creaking and groaning of something large around me.
I thanked my ears and told off my eyes whilst my nose still tingled of potato. The culprit of the sound was what I could only describe as a tall red tower with a nose. I walked up to it, around, looked up, down, once, twice, thrice but I could not figure it out. Only when I pressed my hand to the surface did the tower start to move away from me and moan.
I began to worry for the humongous creakers — what were they doing out here precisely in the middle of the field? But then I looked up and saw a very unusually sharp cloud and thought how strange it was as well. It felt squeezed, like a bit of fluff pressed in between the pages of a book. But then perhaps the cloud always wanted to be sharp and lonely and thoughtful; perhaps I shouldn’t interupt its tranquility with my troublesome thinking. The tower is then of similar fortune; even more so because I am here to play with it. What need is a purpose for a thing when one can walk up to and push it and watch it tilt? I highly doubted that my crimson friends ever pondered on the woes of their existence. They must have just enjoyed the continuous affection of the tickling atmos… ‘THUMP’ — the earth shook.
That must have been a pot landing on the other side. ‘THUMP’ — it shook again. I began to feel slightly uneasy and alone. There was a skypath just a short distance away and it seemed to lead to a series of three identical yellow houses. Curious, they had one round hole and no windows or doors. How does one enter a house without a door? The aperture was by far too high to reach with my little hands and so again I had to find another way. What a trivial and difficult place! Finally, a triangle of all shapes introduced itself as the entrance to what I would soon learn was a barn. A place of cows and noise and one long room.
The bulls raged, the cages clashed and the roof rang like a bell. Then there was one final ‘THUMP,’ and the voids above me came to life. Every black bird was awoken from its slumber into immediate flight and shot through the rafters of their home, over my head and out into the world outside. Up until that point in my life I had never experienced fear so directly from a dark room, but me being six and not knowing any better that cows naturally make lots of noise, I ran away from my fright and the shadows of heaving, pulsing flesh towards the twin triangle of twinkling light.
No sooner had I found myself climbing up a smooth green slide to safety than I felt my feet tugged and pulled right out into the kitchen. It seems that the food was cold by now and the grown-ups were making queer noises in a state of trauma. I was simply pensive and confused. My journey had ended as quickly as it began. Making my way to the window I gazed out at the chickens.
Hungry as I was they placed me in my seat at the table. Although it was already past supper my grandfather would not return until an hour of the night too late for me. He was still out there; the observer of the eternally new. For how could he finish his day without learning the world all over again?
It began to rain.
I was still only six; the grown-ups put me to bed. Perhaps the end is met in the same way, with silence and sleep. I now dream with the same blissful naivety of my childhood — of fields of endless colours, and of houses for bees, birds and bulls; without doors.
Project written and drawn by Sonia Magdziarz and Egmontas Geras.