MY LIFE IN MARSEILLE


Old Port of Marseille

Marseille

I am told that I must look through all my boxes which have been stored over my parent’s house and decide what to keep or get rid of.

Lifting, moving, opening and excavating inside old boxes to discover someone else memory lane is fun.  However, I have an aversion looking into my past. That’s secret and I rather keep it out of sight.

I sift through pictures of Xs which I forgot I had forgotten. Oh! That’s Tony. For some reasons I had two friends, girls with boy’s name, both Tony.

One Tony was a psychologist, she insisted for me to have a crush on her. I couldn’t, to me she lacked sex appeal so she thought I was asexual. She once invited me for a picnic.  I was the only invitee at her house.  She set a bowl of whip cream and strawberries on the floor and used me as a plate.
I hate to feel sticky and gooey. My body is not suited for this type of experience.
I close, seal the box and label it “mental”.

Then I look at much older pictures, B&W with sepia tones, I ask my mother sited next to me and discover family I never heard of. I don’t understand how they named their child in those days.  A late uncle is called Antonius, my great-grand-mother is Zoë, my grand-mother is Georges Angéla and my grand-father Ulrich Bertin.  Now I understand how my mother’s name is Liliane Leonard.

Then I look at a good-looking man, playboy 50’s style, blowing a trumpet. My mother is a single child and that’s her brother, my uncle. I don’t go there, that’s a Pandora box. 

I see an old picture of my grand-mother hugging a toddler on the beach.
I ask my mother “who is that?”
“That’s you!”
“Me! And where?”
“In Marseille
“In Marseille?
“Yes, we lived there for a while, don’t you remember?”
“No, I don’t.”

I never knew I had a picture on the beach with my grand mother.  I don’t remember living in Marseille.  I don’t know Marseille, I have never been there. Showing me another picture…
“Do you remember him?”
“No.”
My mother looks at me, tightens her lips, shakes her head side to side and looks at the ceiling. I am serious; my only explanation of this memory loss must be what they call an out-of-body experience. I was where I knew I was and only my body was in Marseille.

The picture is real. My body was in Marseille but not me. That’s not the mental story of my life as I know it.
I look at a picture of two toddlers; black-kid-me with white-kid-him each holding a small lunchbox.

“He was your best friend. You always played with him in Marseille.”
I don’t remember going to kindergarten, I don’t know white-kid-him, I have never been to Marseille.
I close, seal the box and label it “My life in Marseille.”

Patrick-Bernard

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