enfolded // three: things that spring, at the earliest signs of winter.
hello, long time no write, how are you?
Turns out there’s a motion sickness to standing still. But perhaps everyone already knew about this except for me. So this is what it feels like. Something I have to teach myself perpetually. And if perpetually, then in other words, in motion, inevitably. Even an exercise in unwinding cannot separate itself from the tension of its own springing process. How interesting.
Am I a winter person? I ask myself this every year because I suppose I want to summon a childhood that has long been on the run. I want my skin to recall a horrifying darkness that floods the hours after lunch— obscure patches of wet that could well be piss or remnants of snow or just the breeze through an unzipped gap— the wiggling of toes under three socks in a too-tightly Velcro-ed boot— the melting of the indoors. I think I am, in spite of: the image I have of the sky when mum fell on the ice and the stroller tipped me upwards, for instance.
Is the fridge too frequently used as a metaphor for compartmentalised memory?
Every encroaching winter, I find myself lingering at such an enclosed arena just to check everything is still there, intact. It’s the only clarity of breath I can get. I do wonder if I rely on my past too much. But it’s my buoy, it’s my origin story. It isn’t Christmas that persuades me to pull out the archives, it is the sharpness of the air as it turns in November. I am rather fond of the life lived by little me in the Gothenburg years. I feel that in my current stillness, I live through her and remember all that I come from. I’ve been meaning to share something of that era, but never known a way in. There is something about being cornered, perhaps, that gives you a visceral encounter with what you thought you already knew by heart.
Night - ?, Gothenburg.
There’s a recurring dream of a monster my dad and I made together. You see, he’s good with his hands. He has boxes and boxes of tools and materials. The kitchen faces the back porch, and the image of my bicycle tracks encircle, trance-like. I think he makes one for either of us. Or perhaps it’s one that resembles the both of us together. He’s telling himself what he’s building as he goes along. I can’t take my eyes off of the thing we make together. It’s monstrous. And then we’re elsewhere in the house and the day has spun forward and the monster comes alive and it has metal for arms and metal for a body and it’s the story of a chase that has me running my mind off in a dream that only becomes a nightmare when I wake in the same house it was built.
This goes on for years.
I suppose it stopped when something monstrous began to tear the both of us apart in another house, in another country.
Afternoon - 2003, Gothenburg.
Slottsskogen is a meticulous sketch of low hanging trees, loose joggers, couples on a stroll, and young children running laps on its mild green slopes. Mum sits on a park bench with a very large little one in her womb. She encourages dad and I to go and enjoy a few laps around the winding path together. I dart off on a scooter while dad follows along, awkward on roller-blades. I remember drawing slaloms around the passersby. Every child on a scooter dreams of wide open roads, the brush strokes of path vivid and vague just beneath.
We’ve gone a few laps and we’ve located mum again, so he tells me to go on ahead. He wants to do another little lap on his own.
This is how I remember it. This is how it goes wrong. A man approaches mum and I on the park bench and he asks, is that man, by any chance, your husband? The man on roller-blades? Mum mutters a yes, that would be him, yes. Well he’s fallen and we need to get help.
We’re in this man’s car and he’s driving the three of us to the hospital. Dad comes home with metal in his left arm.
What’s your name? We can’t thank you enough.
Nicholas. My name’s Nicholas.
Morning - 2002, Gothenburg.
I’m going to wait until she’s turned the corner. And then I am going to take off the scarf and hat. I can’t climb this rock with a scarf and hat on. They’re so ugly. They get in the way. The school has a giant rock for a reason and it’s for climbing. Yes, I know she said rocks aren’t for climbing, not at least for a little one like me. But I’ll do it anyway. I want to. I’ve been doing it for far longer than she might well like to believe. Okay, she’s turned the corner, let’s go. Stash them in one of the crevices, and let’s go. But of course there’s eyes at the top of the gate, she’s watching closely, she’s turned around to make sure I’m still there. She’s seen me take all these items off, try to shed what she dressed me in so tightly because it is so cold, so cold.
I’ve got the remnants of a damp surface on my palms.
And now she’s through the gates, and the bell’s about to ring, but still she’s through, and I’m through, I’m totally done for.
? - ?, Gothenburg.
The first time I touched myself. Hold on, I don’t actually remember any of my firsts. I am the culminating remembrance of every occasion that I do remember in the wrong order. And perhaps this is the right order. Samples of warmth like an offering and a heritage I hold onto about myself for myself, entirely mine. It’s the only timeline I know. What if by the amalgamation of these deliberate strokes across the intervening years, I were to tell you that I discovered a possible self separate from your own? Does this break your heart? My father doesn’t think of me as a woman, he does not see me at all. So, this is all that I give myself, to the beat of my own throbbing heart. Can you look away please?
Morning - 2004, Gothenburg.
There’s movement in the hall and I’m convinced I must get up. I must get up because dad’s supposed to come pick me up today. He’s meant to come because Nicholas has arrived. Mum’s at the hospital with Nicholas by her side! Or at least that’s what he said when he dropped me off at the house next to ours. There’s a wooden figure of a hotel porter in this house and it scares me because we are the same height. He carries a tray full of keys and trinkets. I carry nothing and if he were to come alive, I have nothing to defend myself with. Anyway, there’s movement in the hall and I think it must be dad. But I don’t think that’s dad. I think it’s the lady’s husband and it’s an hour far behind / beyond 7 o’clock apparently (such an hour exists!) and he’s heading off to work. Go back to bed, Jasmine! It’s far too early. And I realise I am stood barefoot in their hall against a figure who’s leaving. Embarrassing. What if this time turns out to be just like the last time where they dropped me off at a friend’s house in the middle of the night and I didn’t sleep at all because of the forever ticking in the damn IKEA clock, and everyone told me that everything was going to change all at once, when it didn’t.
What happens when a person becomes a sister? I must become taller, taller than the porter in the hall.
Evening - 2001, Gothenburg.
She begins a history of tearing at the orange peel canvas against the bed. For years, everyone pretends not to notice.
I didn’t think to share these, at least not so soon. But then I chanced upon Bhanu Kapil’s Incubation: A Space for Monsters a week ago, slotted somewhat awkwardly between too many copies of crime novels and works by writers named Ian and John. And she has encouraged me to remember— that I had written and tucked these very particular moments away many months ago, in separate documents, as though on purpose to keep them apart.
How surreal to acknowledge a shared language of monstrosity among those who have lived between nations.
Neither is my grasp of stasis: adequate. No words that suit for “the anthropology of spirals.”
Honestly, this year has been a mess for me. I am in somewhat desperate need of hindsight. I want just one small thing, any one thing (preferably the job thing), to be certain. It has been difficult finding words, relying on words, difficult trusting in all that I can make marks of permanence through before the rest of myself, even in pencil. Maybe it’s because I don’t believe in erasers/rubbers, whatever you call them. I still don’t know which one I use.
Thank you for being here, it’s nice to know there’s somewhere to return to when I’m more ready. In the meantime, you can find me online and/or support me through this bizarre in-between period on ko-fi. I would really appreciate.