OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.
Jeanne Goosen, my dear friend.
13 July 1938 – 2 June 2020.
Tessa Louw posted this photograph and these words on her Twitter account (which I follow with interest). It was the first time I saw the news of Jeanne Goosen’s passing.
I did not know Jeanne Goosen, and even though I have been in the same room as Tessa Louw once (I know because she took a photograph of me that I will never forget), I have not met her personally either, but both women feature in my consciousness in a very positive way.
I have read only one of Jeanne Goosen’s books, the novel which André translated into English, We’re Not All Like That. It left a lasting impression. (Someone asked me for more book recommendations in my posts. Well, this is definitely one of them.)
RIP Jeanne Goosen. Thank you for all the stories.
I fear death. It might sound like a naive thing to say, especially now, but I mean it, wholeheartedly. I love my life, with all its treasures and losses; I want to live it, really live it. I remember sharing my fear with my best friend Isabella in high school, confessing to her that the thought of not existing beyond this life frightened me into numbness, and this at a time when my whole life seemed to lie ahead of me. I am still young, but the fear has not left me, nor has it become less terrifying. Everything is so brittle around us in comparison to this one solid reality of death and loss, that it is impossible to deny it. And when, like me, you have no ideology or faith to ground you, only people and art remain. Those traces we leave in others, who remember and hold us in their hearts and minds for as long as they continue. And art – through images, words, sounds, objects – continues beyond us, at least in possibility. For that I am grateful. This makes me less afraid.
For me, of course, words – my own and those written by others – carry that possibility, keep me sane in those moments when I feel so alone and frozen in my fears that I cannot breathe. All stories – books – are my manifestos, my holy scripts.
I also thought about stories when I went shopping at Caroline’s Fine Wine Cellar today. Every bottle I chose tells a story beyond its content. And for someone like me, who is not a wine connoisseur, the story is just as important as the wine. And each of these bottles will make me smile just because of a memory I connect with them… I could possibly tell my life story through these six bottles alone.
Cheesecake and other delights from the Alma Café and beer from the Hoghouse arrived on my doorstep today, too. And I enjoyed the rest of my tomato soup on the stoep at lunchtime – with Mozart, because he loves veggie soups. I had to get him his own bowl because he insisted sticking his whiskers into mine…
I worked today, had to send another rejection letter, did laundry, swept the stoep, took out the recycling, stared at the moon, heavy with its near-fullness, and, right in the middle of it all, had a wonderful Skype chat with my Mom. We laughed a lot together. And, as someone pointed out to me, ‘laughter is now, more than ever, important in our lives.’ Agreed.
And that is why, please forgive me, I will indulge in some joyful anticipation right now, and I have an idea that a few ladies – and gentlemen – might join me. I have been starved for live sports (not golf, though, which always makes me think of that German saying, “Spielen Sie schon Golf, oder haben Sie noch Sex?” – allow Google to translate for you, if needed… ;)), so I have been meaning to watch the NZ live rugby starting soon anyway, but when I heard that a certain player would be joining the competition, my heart skipped a beat, or two, or three, and I have been smiling every since. And it’s not because of the underwear… I mean, anyone would want to watch that ball in play. Right?
Yes, I am blushing. And smiling.
No, I am not ready for golf yet. I am still a gypsy at heart.
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Stay at home.
“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”
Image: Tessa Louw