Heterotopic stories based on real-life events
Everything in Order? At the age of four or five, I had a recurring paranoia of being observed as a lunatic by the rest of the world that is not mine. From my current point of view it feels like paranoia, but back then it might have been just an idea or a game I played with myself. The idea of millions of different parallel universes that might interlace with mine while I’m taking a pee both amused and terrified me. While I eat my breakfast, I think of strangers looking at me in wonder, laughing, trying to talk to me, asking me what am I doing there… am I ok, is everything in order? But I am only eating my bread and honey and watching a cartoon in a small ground floor apartment with a carpet on the floor and beautiful mildew on the walls. There is nothing strange about it, not even a sound. Until I realise I could be sitting in the middle of their main street, which is a bit strange for a morning routine. They want to know who I am and where do I come from, how did I appear there out of nowhere eating bread and honey? Where did that honey come from? But I can’t communicate with them or really see them.
Great fun for me, yet a possible trauma for one entire universe! Apart from being slightly tweaked in spatial arrangement from my native universe, it looked the same and felt more of a home to me. No one, absolutely no one, knew who I was and neither did I. We all understood each other perfectly there. I thought that this universe was just a microscopic part of the green lighter that was laying on my kitchen table. Around Christmas I was standing alone in the living room, holding a golden Christmas tree ornament. It looked like an ice-cream swirl and it was the most beautiful one we had on the tree. What would happen if I just break it? It’s just an ornament, there are millions of golden Christmas ornaments in the world, and even more of millions of those in other galaxies far far away. It should be hanging from that plastic tree I’m standing next to, that’s where it should be. If it falls on the floor, my mother would tell me to pick it up and put it back on the Christmas tree. If someone accidentally breaks it, that soone gets scolded… or not? I wasn’t sure. What happens when the beautiful golden Christmas ornament gets smashed for no reason? Nothing happened, but I learned almost everything.
THERE IS SOMETHING indefinable in your vocabulary, something yet to be desired
Swimming Pools That place where my parents or my grandparents or my great-aunt or my grand grand mother would take me every morning, a place for pausing the children in your life – the kindergarten – it used to be a swimming pool in the municipality of New Belgrade. This pool was now an empty concrete ruin that served as our stage. For us, that was the biggest part of the city. So, we had these big old empty swimming pools around the main building. We used these concrete wells in the middle of our playground as a part of that playground, to make the part of our day without television more bearable. We were a group of space cowboys and cowgirls on a quest to rescue someone from something. First, we swim through the ocean, battling against the invisible waves that crash against us in a subjective form of dead leaves. Then, we roll around on a concrete ocean floor like there are no leaves in this world we got to know so far. It didn’t matter, we didn’t know Dostoyevsky, we didn’t know who we were rescuing and from who or what.
But i know an ocean when i see one! and i saw one on the TV, right after that savaged wall, there was a giant fish swimming in that ocean. We all saw it, communism was still our parent and we all liked the same things. We liked to think of that same ocean with a giant fish in it. But it was just an image, it had no smell. It just had that name and us. What if someone told us that a trip to El Hierro would cost us only 9098 dinars? There is an ocean there, there is adventure, probably they had a few TV sets there even. Our parents could afford it, they could have paused us for an entire week! Instead, we swam our way across a hard empty pool, rode some huge yellow tires like it's that horse from the Marlborough ad, roamed through a three-tree forest to save someone from something there deep in the forest. My hamster must have felt the same in its cage. He was also on pause – on a pause between being a person and missing out on all of the opportunities that life could offer to a creature as magnificent as him. We were all in the same corner marked with an X. We had a kingdom made of cigarette ads, Survival collectable stickers, communist ruins, the Grimm brothers and Walt Disney, personal traumas and time. We had to reinvent space and reenact memory on what used to be a pool in New Blgrade.
I in my Closet
The NATO bombing of Belgrade had nothing to do with my eyeshadow. Puberty is a long transition from wearing asexual clothes mum buys, to writing about it on a 13’’ MacBook Pro retina display. My own identity was a battle field and the make-up helped me camouflage and survive this war. In this state of crisis I was kept in my teenage room, where I was allowed to stay in touch with my own kind through the world wide web and extremely long telephone calls. All the time it felt like there was a mirror held up against me and I kept changing the angles until I was satisfied with the outcome, and I was never satisfied because it was always there. I mean, how long can you stay focused staring at your own reflection? Unless you, like, really love yourself like a dog. Or could you spend two weeks in a row in the same outfit? Without even washing it? I’m sure it would start itching and reeking and nobody will ever love you or respect you or even want to talk to you, or even write you a ticket. It’s like a prison, literally.
I had a lot of time on my hands and I had my hands and with my hands I was touching my face, my bed, my posters, my toasted sandwiches, smudging my make-up in the morning with my fingers, typing on the keyboard, scratching my belly, playing with my lips, making shadow puppets, holding a pencil and drawing penises. … nervously walking up and down the 17m2 room like an animal, sometimes crawling on the floor performing rituals, sacrificing my body to the god of all things cool that I couldn’t reach with my fingers. Sometimes at night I would masturbate in my bed, or on the floor, but my favourite place for self-exploration was the closet. It was a small part of my closet perfectly fit for me. I had only a few of my special dresses inside and it was decorated with a collage I made. A special place inside my room where I would crawl in naked. The only place in the world where I feel safe naked, move around as much as I can in that restrained space and let the soft fabrics touch me. Discreetly. Like a soft piano piece. Pianissimo, forte, mezzo-piano, mezzo-forte, piano, forte. moderato. Spiegel im Spiegel and a man walking on the moon. Waves crashing and leather seats. A horse galloping in slow motion. It was so cold and dark and it felt like drifting through outer space caressed by a mythological creature that really loved me. And I hope that it cried every time I left my closet.
I've always wanted to go to disneyland. I still do... In 1991 my sister got to live my dream and go to Florida (US), take a ride through a fake giant carotid artery in a spaceship with Donald Duck. I saw the pictures, I lived inside of them for a while. It took her only one afternoon in my half-grandmother’s home in New Belgrade to persuade our father to give an 18-year old girl four of his full salaries to fly her across the ocean in order to learn English and her true-self. I was too young to care about finances and puberty. I was just in the other room playing with whatever was in that room. There was a pocket mirror in that room. I discovered the moon with that mirror. It was my second Aha-Erlebnis. I didn’t care about Disneyland anymore, it belonged to my sister. She put her flag on it and I could only salute that image from my very own moon.
The room I was standing in split into two rooms when I put that pocket mirror on the temple of my nose. Like a secret passage into an another dimension, which I probably saw in a movie, only better. It was my land that no one else could see or access. I walked on the ceiling carefully, slowly, like both the predator and the prey at the same time. I felt like I might become prey to the real space around me. Some inanimate object might get in my way and make me trip over, kill me on my moon and bring me back to that room with just a bed. The only thing I had in common with my family at that moment was my sister’s whining voice. Although annoying, it was my safety cord keeping me locked to familiar ground. There was a lamp hanging from the ceiling – now it’s a flower growing upwards, or a balloon. I skipped all of the obstacles carefully, although there weren’t many. It was very clean and it felt like heaven must feel to an unimaginative person. Still, it’s heaven. I was dancing around those flowers, there was a big crystal chandelier in the main room where my family quorum took place. I flew in and interrupted the quorum with my strange delight and wonder, as I danced around the chandelier in quiet ecstasy. I felt like a pioneer of virtual reality, like a super hero, like a first hallucinogenic experience waiting to happen! My father decided to send my sister to Disneyland that day.
Not a girl, not yet a woman. Not even a full-on teenage girl yet. But I do shower regularly, sort of, now. I don’t lust after boys but I do lust after toys. Serbia in the 90’s was not a happy place. Roller skates were a luxury, a Greek holiday was a luxury, Nutella was a luxury, Puma discs were luxury… toilet paper and sanitary pads were considered luxurious goods too. That year I got a pencil for my birthday from a friend from school. It was cold and everyone was poor. People on the TV looked indifferent and ugly. I was ugly and nobody wanted to dance with me, so I danced with myself. As an only child it’s a go-go. But I didn’t care much for friends I just wanted THAT toy! The Mattel catalogue was full of POLLY POCKET pictures. My holy grail, my little bride’s veil, my Sankara stones, the twinkle in my eyes, the hope in all my dreams… Those plastic little worlds promised a home that wasn’t mine, yet only mine. My very first utopia.
I cut them out with scissors and fold them, so they look like the real deal. It’s just that they were made of paper not plastic, and they were smaller. And polly was 2D instead of 3D. There was an orange house with a flower garden and it had Polly in a blue overall, like a gardener, and she had a parrot and the diamond-shaped pink one with a school inside and it had classrooms and then there was a violet polly pocket that had a fridge and a couch for polly and her friend to watch TV and if you had all of them you could make a little village so they can visit each other and they are all your friends only small and plastic and they have beds, balloons and pizza but they can’t bend their knees, although they have a football field, and they talk about what they did in Pollyville and how they hate boys and they go to the beach and we know it’s not just a carpet and the tiles of the house where Polly baby-sits are black and white and it’s always summer and winter at the same time and I’m sooooo happy to be a part of my own reign that I forget what a real watering can looks like and I am peanut sized and sometimes I spend the whole day in my elevator or I fish for paisleys and i take my dog to the hair saloon with me and the best thing is that he is ME! :D
Eurydick It seems like everything started growing out of my bodies. Boobs, hair, nose, arms, pimples… everything was pouring out and fluid. As if there was an explosion inside of me that had its own time, but we shared the same space. Letting loose in all directions, my body was a drunken loose cannon dragging the other part of me around. I was so clueless. Part of that debris was unknown desire searching for its Ziel. I have nowhere to aim at, in my head there’s only Mozart’s symphonies in Vienna and anatomy of a fish, maybe a few pop stars and some ancient history. Dear diary, today i fell in love with a boy. He was the most beautiful blonde hair I have ever seen and his jacket was blue and red. Blue and red are my new favourite colours now! blue… and red, blue and red… blue and red blue and red and blonde and red blue blue blue <3 Every day when we go to lunch at school i see him in the tunnel corridor. Almost every day i walk behind him and i, he is soooo beautiful… his hair is almost white and his jacket is so cool. i saw the same one on a man yesterday but it didn’t look as cool.
I still don’t know his name or his face, but it must be the most beautiful face with a name that has ever worn that jacket or ever will! He must be from Egypt, the land of ancient gods and love and eyeliner. I don’t know where you come from but i want to live and die there, to oscillate throughout eternity from the spring of your chest. And i don’t mean chest or Egypt… His hair is white like the pyramids, eyes maybe blue? maybe he’s an angel and only i can see him? maybe he’s got purple eyes and red lips… i don’t know but i’m in L.O.V.E and he is the prince of my innermost dreams! Finally, after 12 lonely years! My desire lived on his shoulders for weeks and that jacket was a waving flag on the moon, like a red flag on the moon and I was a sitting bull with a TV, watching the broadcast. Once he turned around to shout something funny at his friend in the school yard, the guardian Sphinx on his shoulders collapsed. It’s not the right face, that’s not the face i dreamed of, NOT the guy i’m in love with!
There is still a street in Belgrade that I can see from any bus that drives through the lower part of Dorćol. It’s hidden behind between a school and a bakery and behind a grey upper hexagonal concrete tower on the left, and a small store rotated to the centre right around the corner. I often dream about it, and when I pass by the hexagonal structure, I don’t dare to go any further because if I don’t, I can imagine a promenade in Ealing that looks like the old part of Podstražje, only with skyscrapers, the unseen familiar other – far up where you can’t see – on my grandmother’s closet. You have to squint and stand on the tip of your toes to really see it. I never went down that street and turned left, but it always took me where I wanted to go. If I ever do turn back and look at it, I know I will be just stuck in a street in Belgrade. Visibility is a trap.