memory: the raft and the slide


March 2012

My brother and me have quite a few things in common, but I think one of the most striking ones is our shared appreciation of my mother's tolerance towards our destroying the living room furniture.

Judging by the pictures, I must have been around six and my brother around three years old or maybe a bit older. We are both wearing white tank tops and our underwear and it is summer. The sun gives the wooden floor a golden honey colour and we are smiling, lying on the floor, between very long cardboard tubes, arranged like a raft. In the background one can see our coffee table tilting, with two of it's legs on the couch, transformed into a slide. And further to the side, a bed sheet tucked at the sides of the couch and a chair, forming a tent. Quite a place.

We were allowed to jump, slide, bite and scratch the furniture, draw on every single room of our house. But the sliding on the coffee table is still in my memory as one of my favourite activities. I am quite sure that we used to put on the same record, over and over again, while we were sliding down in turns, my brother's hair still white-blond, his cheeks on fire from the excitement, me missing a few teeth, the gaps giving me this extra six year old charm.

It was a weekends activity and I am glad it was that way, because it made it even more special for us (and the couch survived many years, having the chance to rest during weekdays). I do not remember for how long mom allowed the cardboard tubes in the middle of the house, but it must have been quite some time, as they served not only as our raft for our long journeys, but also as swards and construction materials for house-like structures. I believe they were the kind of tubes that you roll fabric around in factories and wonder where my father found them. But I am grateful to anyone who threw them away.

There were two verses of one particular song on this record that are in my mind thesoundtrackof our own Odyssey:

“Even if they drag me to the edge of earth

and they keep me tightly tied

even if they drag me to the edge of earth

and my wounds hurt me horribly

even if there are wolf dogs

I will escape, I will escape

even if there are wolf dogs

I will escape for you and I will come come, yes”

and indeed, to this table slide, to this wreck of a raft I keep going back, no matter what.