WHEN YOU'VE Lived in a city for a long time, YOU see both what the city was and is
You walk past buildings that once housed the ones you loved.
Places where you lived your prehistoric self.
And you fall into nostalgia. Because the walls and the roads stay there and look like themselves, even though the people who filled the air with perfume and the staircase with footsteps are long gone.
In the Ansgargade apartment, at my refined grandmother's place, there were embroidered slippers in the warm cabinet and marmalade spread on the whitest wheat bread. But now others live there. No longer my grandmother, who always required to taste her watermelon before buying it at Føtex, while I hid behind the tea shelf with blushing cheeks.
I imagine that my grandmother's home - with noise- and dust- absorbing carpets, the Bornholm clock and the black plastic telephone with rotary dial; the dark hallway, the fringed armchairs and the kitchen, where the doors were closed with a small metal hasp making a crisp sound, has now become all whitened and brightened and streamlined.
I don't think THERE'S STILL SOMEONE HERE holding pastel-colored water balls in a glass JAR in the bathroom.
Odense shouldn't have been my city, and strictly speaking I shouldn't have been here at all, as the two halves of my gene pool had planned to settle on different continents. But Australia did not want Argentinian emigrants.
And the bad health of my youngest uncle made the stopover on Ternevej permanent. Here, my grandfather mangaged to skillfully hide his shame of having survived far too much behind a big smile and an abundant appetite.
Where my aunt Anna lived, I don't know. I'm afraid to find out. I'm afraid to concretize the magic out of the memory where lemonade and lavender and my aunt, with hysterical big glasses and long, flowered garments made of crackling artificial materials, live forever.
In 1996, a man whom I see as a mythical character sat himself into a truck and drove over the red light at the cross between Søndre Boulevard and Kløvermosevej, where he hit my father and his silver-gray Toyota, which tumbled like a piece of silver paper against a steadfast light pole. And so life became divided into the one before and the one after.
I remember the laughter. WhiCH was not AT ALL laughing, but A crying that toppled uncontrolled FROM the throat. I remember the awkward sideways GLANCE OF THE POLICEMAN.
I remember him on the hospital bed, with bandages around his beloved forehead and the broken teeth. I remember we were eating food from the takeaway grill-bar in the evening, while watching television. Because we could not cry any more. I can not drive by that intersection without imagining the crash.
They all died in 1996. Grandma on the passenger seat of the silver-gray Toyota Corolla, in a puddle of newly purchased red wine. Aunt Anna with raised legs and no grounding. Grandpa dwindled by the cancer that bit him to the stomach. Rebel enough to live until the last moments as trans-fat-acid-saturated as possible.
When Christmas came, we sat close to each other and watched movies on the couch. A beaten flock, craving for sparkling lights and vaseline on the lens.
we did not cover THE TABLE, AS those we should eat with wERE gone.
The city is rich in stories. Some important for generations. Others only important to me. And I carry them with me. They are part of that lens that gives colour to the city.