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Thursday, 18 December 2008

Postcards from Past Lives

By Lia of the Yum Yum Café blog

The reason I made this series of collages is because there are times when I feel that I have lived numerous lives in just this one. These postcards are a way of connecting the dots between these past lives.

Postcards from Past Lives: Ballet Dancer


Dear Ballet Dancer,

There really are just two states of existence: “in the ballet studio” and “outside the ballet studio.” There are those fleeting “moments on stage,” but they are almost not worth mentioning. Filling the dark spaces between in and out of the studio are numbing doubts and insecurities. Not knowing whether you are good enough even though you are one of the best. Not being able to surrender yourself in the movement for fear of losing your inhibitions and thus, the required restraint.

I would wish you more joy and less loneliness. Take care. It takes a leap of faith to find your way to a more happy life. Start now. Don’t delay.

Love and affection,
From One Further Down the Way

Postcards from Past Lives: Sailor Girl


Dear Dave,

The night shifts were the most nerve-racking. We agreed on wearing lifelines while out on deck. Something you forgot to do over and over again.

During the day, when you would wander forward to fix a frozen cleat or adjust a line that was caught, I’d wait anxiously at the helm for you to trip and lose your balance. I lived under the illusion that I could somehow execute a man-over-board manoeuvre quickly enough to find you in that mass of ocean. Even though it was possible to count the seconds before some object drifted away out of sight amongst the waves.

Nights, when it was your watch, I slept softly. Waiting for the thunder of your feet on deck as you rushed off in some emergency. Thump. Thump. Thump. Then silence as you went about fixing the problem. Silence, during which I held my breath. Silence, during which I imagined an erratic wave throwing you overboard. Silence, praying down my panic.

And then, after an eternity - thump, thump, thump, your tuneless whistle underneath your breath, back on the helm again. I’d fall asleep until the next emergency.

I never feared going on a voyage for you would be there. In all those years of sailing of along coastal lines, across oceans and through endless storms, the only thing I feared was you not being there to guide me anymore.

There have been times in the last nine years since your death, when I will myself to breathe again, when I pray down my panic. I don’t want to live softly any more, waiting for the next emergency. I want to hear the thunder of your feet again on the deck.

Love and affection,
Your Sailor Girl

[NOTE: This postcard is addressed to my father. He was one of the best sailors I've known. He and his brother built their first boat (a Y-flyer) when they were teenagers. He died one evening, nine years ago, onboard his beloved boat in the company of my mother and friends after a good day's sail.]

Postcards from Past Lives: Dean of Admissions


Dear Dean of Admissions,

I did wonder during those first few semesters why you, the dean of admissions, accepted me into your university electrical engineering program. What made you blindly overlooked my lack of academic qualifications? Perhaps you thought I was old enough to qualify for a mature student status. What made you believe me capable of learning theories of quantum physics and thermodynamics?

This remained a mystery until years later, when I met you at a party of a gay friend of mine. You introduced yourself and confessed the fact that you accepted me into the program solely because I had been the first ballet dancer who had ever applied to your program. The ballet buff and the closet queen in you, jetéd over the hurdle of professional propriety and let me into the program.

To this day, I don’t quite know whether that was such a wise decision you made. I never did fit in to the baseball cap-toting, beer-guzzling mob of that time, but I did, strangely enough, find my place.

I learnt a lot in those years and for this I am eternally grateful to you. Maybe you did propel me into strange world of engineering on a whim, but it also profoundly widened my horizon.

In deep gratitude,
The ex-ballet dancer

Postcards from Past Lives: Grade 7


Dear Lia,

Ugh! Seventh grade! Can there be anything worse than being in Mr. Tournier’s seventh grade class? Mr. Beer Breath Tournier. The class where all the delinquents (children with behavioural problems) or “retards” (children with learning disabilities) are in.

The school thinks you cannot read or write just because you cannot read out loud with fluidity or spell correctly. It is strange that they think this, since you spend all of your free time reading. You are a member three libraries, for Pete’s sake.

Don’t despair. You are not a “retard.” You just are dyslexic. They don’t know about dyslexia in your school yet.

It will take another ten years before another teacher tells you about your dyslexia. So, scrape through high school. Go off to dance. Wait a few years before you return to your studies.

Just so you know, better days are ahead.

The older you

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Simply beautiful and poetic. Excellent.

To Lia:

Ballerina,Sailor's daughter,EE, avid reader,collage creator,multilingual writer,caring parent,loving wife.....

Be proud,Lia, be very proud....

My father was a sailor, too. He was a mechanical engineer by trade, but had a passion for sailing, and could calculate our arrival in port almost to the minute.

When I was in my 30s some friends chartered a big sloop for a birthday bash sail out of Boston Harbor, captained (and I use the term lightly) by a rich dilletante who was more interested in "looking yar" than learning how to pilot his vessel. We ran aground on the lighthouse island in the harbor, at which point I discovered that he didn't know how to float us off the beach. I actually had to TELL HIM HOW.

It was only then that I really understood how good a sailor my father was; it had literally never crossed my mind that anything bad could happen aboard when Daddy was at the helm. And it never did.

My father's been gone for many years now. Thanks for reminding me what it was like to feel so safe and secure in his care.

Lia - I agree completely with Nancy.
Your life has been incredible! I find myself gasping for breath and exhausted, just reading about all that you do and have done!

What a wonderful idea! This would make a great seminar/workshop!

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