walking home up my steep hill a few weeks ago and noticed a neighbour up ahead.
She was carrying two large plastic supermarket shopping bags. They looked heavy.
On many occasions we walk in and out of town at precisely the same times.
Normally we say hello to each other. We don't know each other's names though. On
this occasion she hadn't seen me because her walkman was playing. I could hear
her singing under her breath but I didn't recognise the song. Her shopping bags
were banging against her legs. Suddenly, a small hole teased itself open in the
left bag thanks to the rubbing motion of a sharp corner of something inside. An
orange appeared at the gap. It looked like it was trying to escape. Then her
mobile phone started ringing. It was the I Dream of Jeannie song. The lady
didn't notice it though, kept walking. The next events happened fast. The orange
at the gap made its way slowly out of the widening hole and before I knew what
was happening it had dropped onto the road and started rolling. Another one
followed it. And then another ("hey, wait for me!!!"). The phone stopped
ringing. Neighbour With The Oranges still hadn't seen what was happening. I ran
after one of the oranges but my reflexes were slow and the road is steep and the
oranges were faster. They were disappearing into various places, like dreams
lost, hopes passing, fantasies vanishing with age. One went down a drain. One
went under a parked car. I lost track of the other one. The lady turned into her
driveway and opened her front door. It closed behind her.
I saw her at a Greek restaurant a few days later. She was sitting
at the next table. We exchanged glances. I was tempted to tell her about the
oranges. How was I going to introduce the subject though?
"Excuse me! You don't know me … yes, I see you in the street
sometimes … um, I just wanted you to know that I was walking behind you the
other day while you were going home and you were listening to your walkman and
didn't notice that you lost three oranges but they were rolling too fast so I
couldn't get them back to you. I tried. Great mobile ring tone by the way ... "
There's no way I was going to bring it up. Interestingly there's
no word in the English language that rhymes with the word 'orange’. I let her
enjoy her tzatziki in peace. I went bowling on Friday night with work
colleagues. I'm sure that if you were missing both arms you could arrange to get
attachments that would allow you to bowl and you would play much better than me.
I played really badly. The number of people at the bowling alley was surprising
– the place was packed. Disco music accompanied the sounds of pins being knocked
down (or in my case the orange thing rolling down the gutter). I saw an old
friend in Aisle 3. He disappeared a few years ago. I recalled images of him from
the past - neatly cut hair and conservative clothes. Now he sported long locks
with green highlights. The glasses were gone and there was a mountain climber's
beard. A tattoo of a vine-like image snaked up his neck and highlighted a large
orb earring that reminded me of a documentary I saw recently about long-lost
Amazon tribes and their piercings. We greeted each other and I asked him about
how things were going. "I'm not doing anything special. Just making things
happen, you know? Living a normal life in town and that sort of thing."
Making things happen. He was bowling really well. He had an
orange ball. Daylight savings has ended now and I made things happen over the
weekend by turning the clocks back. The calendars needed to be changed, too. I
have one from Australia, and one from Switzerland. They both reflect the seasons
in their respective hemispheres. The Swiss one is showing autumnal scenes with
orange glow and the Aussie one is showing summer beaches with orange sunset. The
contrast brought to mind the work of a Thai artist that I saw years ago. He
titled his exhibition: ‘Same Same Only Different’.
I like it.