Sunday, March 07, 2010

why and why not

Unexpectedly and cheerfully, I woke up for the 4th morning in a row to sunlight and the noises of the ducks from the canal. A couple of video calls with my parents and they were happy to see my new surroundings. So was I. I didn't mind that it took me a couple of hours to get up, take a shower, have breakfast, read some news, organise and leave the flat. I cycled by the canal, bought myself a nail clipper, a suede shoe protector spray and headed up north towards where I lived a couple of years ago for a few months. Back there, when I had first moved in, it also felt right, and there was a lot of sunlight. What followed thereafter had impacts on where I am now.

I thought for a moment that I saw an image of London that didn't resemble anything of the sort I have ever seen here before. A row of new developments, but taller than they usually are (a mini-scale of Manhattan tall residences), in Dutch-like bright shades of yellow and red, lined up in a crooked street, resembling that of an ancient Roman city, bending towards the right as an inclining railroad tracks disappear into the linear perspective, at the end of which my eyes all but could miss the glamorous Emirates Stadium of the Arsenal Football Club. I was heading my way up to the Market Estate Project, a collaboration of 60-some artists who displayed their interpretation of the last remnants of a 1960's modern housing-estate that is going to be demolished in the next few weeks. But before I made it to the exhibition, I was drawn but what I had just seen. I cycled into what I then realised was a dead-end street, only to realise that, there was yet another one architectural feature, a house reminiscent of a Western European rural architectural features in the midst of a row of Victorian houses with a secured gate and a cobblestone pavement entrance with a wild garden on the back of it. Astonished as I was, I made my way towards that street where the colourful new developments led the way to the stadium (and, to my disappointment, they were nothing other than another fancy new development): It was 3 PM, I was cycling slowly through a crowd of Arsenal fans, it smelled of meatball grill mixed with ongoing chants for an industry that drags millions behind itself, and yet there I was, wheeling slowly but resolute towards a childhood memory. I was an Arsenal fan for that moment.

The Market Estate Project was the first highlight of the day. As the sun started hiding behind the clouds and the gloom settled in and out, I realised this was the estate, at a flat of which I had dinner with my friends O. and F. last July on an unexpected invitation last year. It was an apalling summer's evening with around 10 C of cold and heavy rain which got me soaking wet. Now, I was sitting in the courtyard with O. and the sun had shown itself again and before seeing the actual displays of the project, we were catching up with the recent developments in our lives. That was the first time in the day when I said "this is why..."... We've filled ourselves with some cakes and brownies, and warmed up with tea while one of the live bands was playing one of D.'s favourite songs that she had shared with me some time ago. Market Estate Project was a memoir, but looked determinately towards the future as memories from my recent history were coming right at me. I enjoyed it.

After about 3 hours later, I beat the cold of the dying day with a cup of tea and a fast ride through the northern suburbs towards Stoke Newington. Another one of those evenings and I did not mind having some Turkish food on my own on a restaurant that I never tried before. As I gazed through the other tables filled up by couples and groups, I felt the uneasy comfort of biding my time at a place where I could almost feel familiar. The familiarity was what T. was looking for when she called me and said she had arrived at the pub where everyone going to A.'s house was eventually going to meet. Soon after, me, T., M., N. and D2 were waiting for the signal to move to A.'s. Boy, was he surprised and he seemed to enjoy every bit of the unexpected fright.

Some things just started not feeling quite right. The last time I was there, I also felt a bit alienated, probably mostly by the fact that I did not mind being in my own corner and yet felt at ease. It was not particularly the same this time. Somehow, the feeling that I did not have a corner of my own, and if I happened to try and have one, it would mean that I was being antisocial started kicking in. Although I felt like the contrary and, as opposed to the last time, did not even want to have my own corner, it just grew more and more uncomfortable that I somehow could not fit in. Realising this was the first step to feeling that it was a selfish thought process. D2 reminded me of AC K. Added to the fact that I dreamt about him, amongst my other best friends in a weird dream the other night, and that I also dribbled and took a few shots with a basketball for the first time since god knows how long (and boy, did I love to play basketball in high school!) and that we'd frequently play with AC K; D2 did in deed seem to embody some of the characters AC K had, in what feels like a finely balanced introvertedness that can come out rather sharp but at times very entertaining to those alert. That did not necessarily provide any comfort to my own surrounding.

In the end, A. looked happy for all that matters. I was happy to be part of this. And this was the peak of my self-interested thought process. Maybe I cannot help but shape my behaviour mainly around such thinking and that does not necessarily mean I'm only selfish. I just realised that it is more frequent around here that I am confronted with this and where I look to find the immediate support from people that I would like to consider as friends, I just see walls between myself and them. "Who put them up?" is not the main question here. This is when I first said "this is why not..."...

I'm looking forward to the football tomorrow. I want to run as much as I can, provide my teammates and myself with the most I can and score some goals and let it out. Does trying to be part of a team also sound like a self-motivated action? I don't know the answer to this, but I know that "it is why..." that I can end a nice weekend with all that I did today and football tomorrow and "it is why not..." that I do not even know if those around me tonight and tomorrow alike will judge me for who I am and that I am not even sure whether they would ever bother considering me close to them.

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