Sylvia's writing to freedom

Washed away memories 30/10/2011

Thursday the plumber finally came over, after 4 months of begging, to check our antique boiler. This time it had to be checked in time, otherwise the boiler wouldn’t be certified anymore. Our landlord started in June to ask for this simple check up and as it goes in Italy they do not set a date, they simply squeeze you somewhere in their busy program. Within our small village, with approximately 3000 inhabitants, we’ve got 2 plumber family businesses. There isn’t enough work within the village to keep all sons and nephews working, so they look for assignments within new projects in the bigger cities. This means practically for us, in the village, that our requests are mostly not profitable for our plumbers. Which has as a consequence that we’ve got to wait very long for simple proceedings.

We considered asking our landlord to switch plumber and hire a boiler check business, those companies do  nothing else then certifying and checking and repairing boilers. Though when we carefully suggested changing plumbers  our landlord started already resisting. His perspective was that he had been asking them, so they had to do the checking. Even though he’s got a history with our local plumber, it still should be a possibility to switch plumbers, if that’s more practical or needed. If the checking hadn’t been done in time we were also risking a fine and it wasn’t yet clear or spoken out loud by our landlord who had to pay the fine. It was clear that we had to pay for the check up, at least a €100,-, it was clear that the repairs were going to be paid by the landlord. Lucky enough for us the plumber was still in time, yet 4 months to late, so nobody had to pay a fine.

One of the plumber sons came over and checked the boiler, all was fine and we got the certificate. He couldn’t say what the costs were going to be, he asked us to ask his aunt in the office about the price. When he left the cellar, he told my partner P. that all was fine, we didn’t went back into the cellar to check. We went back into the cellar the next morning to switch on the boiler for hot water. Only then P. found a disaster. The plumber had used a power point just behind our 2000 liter water reserve tank and with the unplugging of the plug he must have moved the tubes that were hanging in the tank in order to water the garden. He probably didn’t notice the tube getting loose and he probably didn’t notice the water that must have flushed out of the tube immediately. So for about 13 hours the tank had the ability to empty the major part of the 2000 liter of rain water in our cellar.

In this cellar we have the storage of all the stuff that we did move along with us for so many removals, but they hadn’t  been given a place within the current house. There were approximately 40 filled cardboard boxes, mattresses, folded cardboard boxes, literally all stuff that hadn’t yet been on the list of trowing away and hadn’t been considered useful to have in the house. The cellar looked like a natural disaster, like a water flooding had taken place. The tower of boxes had collapsed, due to the first layer of boxes that absorbed so much water that they had collapsed. Looking at this disaster there was one word written all over it: WORK. We were in for a lot of work.

P. had to work outside the home-office, so that left me in charge of the disaster. I opened the cellar and did put all my power to the task to get these really heavy boxes outside. Heavy because most were containing books, linen, photo-books and  photo’s. While lifting them the water was running out of the corners of the boxes. All that was wet was now placed outside where the humidity was quite high on this autumn morning. Little floods were coming from the boxes and it didn’t look very promising, when considering the disaster inside the boxes. I decided to first let all the water drip out of the boxes and at a later stage opening the boxes and checking the content. I mopped all the water from the floor and left the door and window open for the wind to blow things a bit dry, I didn’t have the whole morning to dedicate to this task.

At the end of the afternoon P. and I were both free to dedicate ourselves to the water disaster again. P. took some more stuff out that had been too heavy for me to handle alone. The floor was almost dry and P. had gone to the waste platform to seek for pallets. This way we could place the boxes back again only now just below the floor to avoid a second distaster. We started repacking the wet boxes into almost dry boxes. We had to decide what to keep and what to trow away. Old school books from the kids we decided to trow away, old maps of various countries and cities we once went to we threw away, a lot of photo’s that weren’t able to be saved we threw away. I came across all my elementary school notebooks and handcraft assignments. Normally I got quite exited and nostalgic with these things, now I saw stuff made by a child and most of it didn’t had a direct memory other then stories of my mom hanging on to it. It was horribly wet and I decided to trow it away, to my surprise it wasn’t a heavy moment to go through. I simply breathed and remained here and asked myself the question if I would remain when these touchable memories were no longer in my possession? The question I asked myself looked even unreal, how could these possessions change who I am?

That evening my daughter A. searched through the photo’s that had survived the disaster. She was asking me various questions about the pictures that were new to her. Me and one of my old boyfriends, me being baptised, holidays of me and holidays of P. from the time we weren’t yet together. Surprisingly I wasn’t sucked into all these memories and I didn’t experience a roller-coaster of emotions and feelings. I used to get a real energy boost from going through old pictures and memories and as I see it now I was desperately confirming myself that I was still alive through pictures instead of being here and enjoying life in every breath.

This whole water disaster was a time loop when I look back at it. When almost 3 years ago we moved into this house we already had the idea of putting pallets on the ground to keep the boxes dry in case of a disaster. It never came further then a plan and now we were confronted with a missed chance. We lacked responsibility towards our and our kids their belongings and were faced with the consequences. The good side that came forth out of all this is the fact that we cleared our passed by letting go of pictures/ballast. We, I, do not survive by holding on to pictures of the past. Memories can serve, to point out what not to repeat again, simply because it didn’t work and it wasn’t in the best interest of all.



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