|15 May 2021|
It was around 1948, when I was 6, that I suddenly discovered I was an individual.
My mother taught at an American high school in Belgrano R in Buenos Aires. She had friends and someone gave her a bag of candy corn. She would hand me some five or six of these delicious candies not available in Argentina.
I wanted more.
one day that she placed the bag in her armoire. When she was not around
I decided to help myself. I went into the armoire and fished the bag out. But,
there was a mirror, on the full length on the inside of the door. I felt a guilty at what I was doing and I
glanced into the mirror. I was suddenly hit by the knowledge that the image on
the mirror was me and that I was me. And that I was not anybody else. I have never forgotten. Perhaps because when my mother found out of what I had done she gave me a whipping with a chinela (a Filipino/Chinese slipper).
Seventy three years have transpired since that incident. I took this selfie in the guest bathroom in May when the idea of this blog began to germinate.
It is astounding to know that so many things, people, events, experiences have happened in all those years and that I am able to go back to the candy corn incident with some degree of wonder.
Somehow I am trapped with an idea that came to me in the middle of the night some weeks ago about Rosemary. The idea I hear in my head is, “Because she was she is.” And then in Spanish (to be is ser, as in existence, and estar, as being in a physical space), “Soy porque estoy, ella no es porque no está.” This translates to, “I am because I am here, she isn’t because she is not here.” That duality of the verb to be in Spanish makes it all feel more complex. It must be, this idea of being and nothingness.
It is intersting to note that Piazzolla wrote a lovely work called Oblivion. This word, it is in English, has no direct or exact translation into Spanish and Piazzolla knew this. The closest is "not to remember or to forget". Every night I try to think of the concept of oblivion (not being). I get nowhere.
All the above is about self-consciousness and it is hard to grapple (every day now) that I am aware of her presence because she is not here.
I turn on my computer and the image on my monitor is a photograph of both of us. The photograph is real. She is alive (and was) when I took it. It takes me to my knowledge of early photography and how photographers would be close to a dying person in an attempt of capturing that fleeting moment when the soul left the body. It never happened for them. Now with the proliferation of photography the power of the image, of the portrait is almost gone.
But it is not gone for me. I am, I am me, when I look at myself in the mirror. My Rosemary is, because I can see her in the mirror of my mind.