We couldn’t afford a fancy honeymoon suite so opted for “Double room with views of Niagara Falls”. Which meant an infinity sight of the top river flowing into mist, with a heavy sideline in parking lot. “Double” was a push too, for the bed where we huddled like hamsters, lest we fall into the “bedroom spa” – which looked a lot like a bathtub they hadn’t managed to fit into the bathroom.
We stayed three nights after the wedding, united in adversity and finding comfort in each other’s company. Perhaps it was the best kind of honeymoon suite after all.
They’d all been kept apart so long that gathering together in this way felt both exciting and unnerving. The old kind of crowds had been hot and close, full of unwanted touching from strangers, accidentally or otherwise. This was different.
This was closer, more intense but completely comfortable and filled with a sense of belonging, like going to a concert and discovering everyone there is already a friend. Without faces or voices, recognition came from deep within and as they met, they drew together, a growing sense of ease replacing individual cares.
The realisation came in a single moment. Home.
Today’s pretty photo reminded me of crowds of people gathering before a concert or at an airport. It’s a view we have missed for so long, perhaps I would have seen it in any image! I started thinking about a story where we come back together after the pandemic and how that would feel. (I know some of you already have; here in Ontario we’ve got a long way to go, but that’s another story.) But then the story took a different turn, one perhaps inspired by or at least connected to a recent re-reading of this old FF: https://elmowrites.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/ff-the-greatest-of-these/
I hope you enjoy, I welcome your feedback good or bad.
When we were kids, Dad used to say “And you don’t take a shower in the high street,” whenever we did something patently stupid. It became a family phrase, one of those private idioms that you take for granted between yourselves, but which raise an eyebrow or a question when used with strangers.
What I loved most about the phrase though, was how it made Mum laugh whenever he said it. She didn’t laugh much, and very rarely indeed at anything Dad said. That phrase, and whatever history had created it, sometimes felt like the glue holding their marriage together.
Walking on the high street is daunting. The signs, the chatter, it’s all alien. I understand so little, and nothing is familiar. I long for home, even knowing I can never go back.
It gets worse when I learn a few words: sound combinations that stick in my throat and taste strange on my tongue. I am certain I’m saying them all wrong. People cast glances to their friends, ask me to repeat myself, tut and mutter “bloody immigrants”.
I shrink just a little more each time, longing for a place that no longer exists. A place where I belong.
I saw something the other day, that said “respect staff who don’t speak perfect English, most of us would have neither the skill nor the courage to take a job in a language that wasn’t our first.” As an immigrant myself, I cannot imagine moving to a country where I not only had another culture and accent, but a whole different language (or linguistic system in some cases). Brenda’s beautiful photograph fills me with that sense of foreign, and respect for those people who choose to or are forced to come here and must feel similarly daunted… but make it through and thrive.