I’m in America for most of this month, continuing on the project about my mum’s life. I came here about four and a half years ago to start this, but wasn’t in any kind of fit head state to really know what I was doing, I came home with many rolls of pictures of the empty desert, though perhaps that reflected how I was feeling rather well. I’m loosely tracing her life as a child here, she grew up in LA & New York city. I’m starting in LA where she lived from about 1954-59 (I think), aged about 10 years old to about 16 or 17 yrs. I say loosely as again I really don’t know exactly what I’m doing, I’m not creating a historic book, more a book about me and my journey through her life. It’s cathartic if nothing else, it feels like some kind of natural conclusion to the grief process, and that alone is reason enough to do it.
I was in LA for only a few days this time, it’s changed so much since she was here that I didn’t at first feel much of a connection to her or her life here. I know the places she lived, where she went to school, and have lots of old photographs of her time here. I spent one afternoon wandering around Beverley Hills, searching for something, some hint she was here, some feelings, some connection to something that she would have experienced. I wandered around by her school, Beverley Hills High, I tried to imagine her walking to and from school, chatting with friends, being picked up by her parents. In one way I could totally see her, sense her presence, but in another way completely couldn’t. This was so foreign to our life in London, so different to how I grew up, but for that reason in a way it makes me understand her more.
Your school looks just the same as the old photos, and I bet the neighbourhood hasn’t changed much, just as glamorous. I wonder past people’s gardens, seeing all the exotic & foreign flowers, maybe here’s where you got your love of flowers from? I bet there where so many more to see than in 1950’s London. I passed a whole front garden of Bird of Paradise flowers, you loved these. I only just realised now that was very different to your normal taste in flowers, maybe it was seeing them here that influenced that. Maybe you saw this very same garden.
I can still the spot outside your school where your dad took the photo of you, it hasn’t changed. You are here in all the wonderful ways, it’s lovely, it’s not a missing feeling, more just like a feeling that I know you more, I understand more.