Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Yesterday

Note: yesterday was the correct day for this to be published but as the hour crept later, +Jonathan Lange and I looked at each other, febrile and bone weary, and agreed Sunday the 1st of December would be Alphabet Supremacy Armistice Day.

Back in school, the early years where there was only one teacher and there were pretty good odds on any given day of getting to do some finger painting, one of the weekly activities was the Monday morning writing. We'd get out our exercise books, the poorly cut ones with the lines far enough apart to house the handwriting of a seven year old, none of the fancy 8mm feint ruled lines that would define the later years, and write down what we did on the weekend.

(side story: I remember in grade two (age six) on one such occasion realising that it was possible to write down two different words that were both pronounced "week". I wondered, considering how many words didn't seem to be spelled the easiest way, whether perhaps it was properly spelled "weakend". In a cunning move I deliberately used the word weekend twice in my Monday composition, once with each spelling, which would thus force my teacher to point out the incorrectly spelled version. In hindsight I could have just asked but at that age adults were not, to me, beings one simply talked to. I was furious when my book was returned with a series of ticks and neither spelling corrected. It turned out the exercise was about getting children writing, and that spelling would be dealt with during spelling exercises. It annoyed me then, it still annoys me a quarter century later.)

This was one of my favourite parts of the week, it was when I could finally communicate with breathless excitement what I'd been doing for the last two days. I was not alone in my excitement, it seemed like most children couldn't wait to be asked to read out the amazing things they had done. Sometimes they had gone to the beach, perhaps climbed a tree and almost fallen out, or maybe even had their favourite meal for dinner on Sunday night. There was not a lot of flow to the narratives, I'm sure, mostly a lot of "Then I did this. Then I did that. Then mum said. Then the dog". Similes were unlikely to have featured prominently, although there was probably a little magical realism from the more fertile imaginations.

Long weekends were the goldmine. Oh, the things we did yesterday when asked on Tuesday. Tales of shacks, barbecues, and every stripe of activity you can think of that, in retrospect, desperate parents had come up with to get some peace and quiet. Yesterday was today but with excitement crackling off every surface and everything painted in only the brightest primary colours.

Thinking back, I wonder how I would report on the same day if asked now, when yesterday is today already faded to a foggy greyscale. I imagine it would be something like:
"What did you get up to yesterday?"
"Not a lot. You?"
"Not much."
Awkward pause.

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