Time

This is my grandmother’s apartment, the place were I grew up. It froze sometimes in the mid-eighties, when my grandmother and I changed towns and we moved to live with my mother, here in Timisoara. After a few years, my grandmother sold her apartment in the town in Transilvania where we used to live and moved all her things in this apartment in Timisoara. She never lived here, it was only a museum of her past life, with all her things neatly arranged in the same way as in their former places. It is still like that today, with dust gathering under the doilies. We visit it sometimes with my friends, sometimes we pull out some things that we like and bring them to our “alive” home. My mother, the keeper of this place, visits it also sometimes, afraid and fascinated by the ghosts in it. She keeps this place as a symbol of family and continuity, family congealed in the property of stuff, continuity of the things whose stories we still remember, while we are still alive. I don’t know if she thinks about what will happen to these things after my death. I don’t think about it either, although maybe at some point, indefinite in time, I might give this place a new life.

Furniture bought by my grandmother in the fifties as a surprise for my grandfather (she secretly gathered the money that she managed to save from the daily spending with her thrifty housewife ways).  Family photos in which she looks much older than my grandfather, after all the sleepless nights with her two kids and all the spotless rooms and all the three course meals. (She was the perfect wife, my grandfather  used to say, giving up her job as an accountant, giving up her dreams to study at the University and putting into practice the perfect family life my grandfather envisioned. ) A stove from the sixties, still fully functioning. All the books my grandparents had in their bookshelves, one of them was in my grandfather’s bag in the day of his sudden death. Two prints from the twenties representing two little girls (the blonde one looked like my grandmother, the brunette one like her sister). My childhood clothes in the cupboards. A sticker with a baby wearing a gas mask that I glued to the fridge sometimes after Chernobyl.

I took pinhole photos in the apartment one summer. I spent long hours alone in this timeless space, waiting for the images to slowly impress the film, wearing a mask to protect myself from the dust.

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5 thoughts on “Time

  1. What a timeless place!
    I can understand how this place keeps alive the memories but also the ghosts of the past. How beautiful that you are able to keep the apartment like this. My grandparents live in a rented house, we won’t be able to archive their lifes like this when they will be gone some day. Still having a place on earth that looks like it did in your childhood is such a valuable thing to have, The last place like this I had was the flat of my grandaunt, but when she passed away a few years ago the flat was sold. Though she hadn’t lived there anymore the last years, it still smelled like childhood when I last entered the flat to say my final goodbye to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also appreciate it now (maybe ten years ago I would have gotten rid of most of the things there, but now I am very glad I didn’t). Still, it is also a really strange place to be in and not “livable” at all. Most probably, at some point, if I will decide to move there, I will change it, but I will keep most of the furniture and appliances and dishes and stuff in new configurations.

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  2. A time capsule of your family is so touching. I would have loved to preserve either grandparents’ homes. but the expense was too much for the younger me. When i drive by their homes, it is uplifting to see the houses are still homes where the residents love the places. I do have pieces of furniture from both houses.

    Liked by 1 person

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