Following a brief phone conversation with my friend who is currently studying at drama school (not university), it made me realise what you miss when you’re away. You’re living away from home, and you have the ultimate freedom. You have no one to tell you when to wake up or what time you have to be back for. You do have to learn to live with others and their living habits, but generally it is fun, sociable and you think you’ve made it.
This impromptu call made me write this, following one thing she said…
“It was good to be back, in familiar surroundings and yes it does feel surreal. When I am living there I forget the endless months I spent being at home and working. Not that much seems different but I feel it. In myself. I know I have only been away a couple of months but I feel different, not this place. The one thing I noticed was they felt different.
In my halls of residence they are light and flimsy. They feel invisible to hold and you simply breeze effortlessly from one room to another. Yet back home they are sturdy and solid. When I curl my fingers around the shape I feel reassured; I know I am at home. The cold metal touches my small hands and I enter my bedroom. It all looks the same, everything in its normal place but I know I haven’t slept here for a while. The air is fresh but there is a lingering sense that time has passed.
I feel the door handle again and strangely it’s the only thing that is different. I have left home and gone away to study and all I can compare are door handles. Yes, door handles. The poorly designed door handles at my halls, to the heavy weighted round handles that I have always known. It seems odd you can move miles away, see different people day after day, learn new things about yourself and the world and you cannot shake the feeling that the door handles are different.
Perhaps it shows just how strong the human nature is, or how we perceive new surroundings and compare. Perhaps it’s a comfort blanket, what we know and what we now know. Whatever it is, I know I prefer my house’s solid door handles. Though I am sure I will open plenty more doors…”
Sometimes the small things make a difference.
During a seminar this week we had a creative activity to devise a short story out of the following three sentences:
- “Your mother used to come here”
- “Please don’t break it”
- “Here they come”
A shaky hand gently shook mine. Clasped and clammy it made me shudder. The damp smell of lavender filled my nostrils, it was strangely overwhelming yet comforting. Strange and unfamiliar but so close.
The white walls screamed clinical. I looked around in hesitation at the dark laminate flooring and contrast of white. Why on earth did I come here today? I felt static. Completely glued to the spot. Before I arrived here today I visited my local pub for two strong drinks just to settle the nerves and angst. Dutch courage. Ha.
I looked into the stranger’s eyes opposite me and they remained hollow and empty. Motionless and without feeling. As she sat staring out of the large bay window her eyes were transfixed on the exquisite flowers and trees. A salty tear ran down her cheek. I could feel my throat seizing up. I inhaled a deep breath.
“Your mother used to come here, a long, long time ago.” Her white hair wispy and frail clung to her face effortlessly whilst her rigid jaw protruded as she spat those vile words. It was so hard to imagine someone so frail, was so, so evil. All that time ago.
Her small hands gripped her wheelchair tightly and she span round to face me. “Why did you come here? To laugh? To ridicule? I am an old woman.”
I slowly approached the crippling old figure, taking each step with caution. Out of the corner of my eye a photo frame glistened in the warm sun. It was me. I was barely four or five in a shimmering lilac summer dress with clear sparkly jelly shoes. I could feel myself burning up. The hairs on my neck stood on edge and I grabbed the picture with disgust. What a sick and twisted old woman. “No! Please, don’t break it!” She shrieked almost falling out of her metal frame. “It is my only photograph of you.” She pleaded like a filthy beggar.
I couldn’t speak. I knew I shouldn’t have come here. To offer forgiveness. Forgive and forget. Forget I could not. She had stolen my childhood. My normality. My relationships. My life. A glass ashtray sparkled invitingly on the table. One swipe and I…
“I’m. I’m sorry.” She wheeled towards my frozen figure and snatched the frame out of my hands. “It was different back then, there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t stop him.” Her lubricated eyes were filled with regret and sorrow. The red veins polluted the whites of her eyes. Her face was indifferent and not at all how I had pictured or remembered her. The menace. The terror. The anger. It didn’t matter now. It couldn’t. She was feeble and weak. In a child like state.
“I was six years old.” My voice remained neutral. Cold. My body moved without thought or hesitation towards the door. Closing it ever so quietly, the door neatly ‘clicked’. I turned to face the woman who had never put an end to the misery and pain I had endured.
“He used to whisper here they come and pull me under the duvet.” I grabbed a pillow that lay on the perfectly made bed.
Unfortunately this is not about student fees changing in universities in the UK and the spending cut. However, it is about South Carolina University (in America), introducing a new course, studying Lady Gaga, oh, and the sociology of fame in 2011!
Professor Mathieu Deflem has created a course to study the phenomenon of the star, Lady Gaga. The course was originally only going to use the star as an example but Deflem decided her fame (10 million followers on Facebook and six million on Twitter) made her worthy of an entire course focusing on her rise to form, “the social event”.
In my opinion the course sounds diverse with the different units: business and marketing strategies, fans and live concerts, homosexual culture, the role of old and new media, religious and political themes, sex and sexuality, and the cities of New York and Hollywood. The units will be able to give students a broad insight into the word of “fame” and the strategies behind a “star”.
However, as interesting as the course may sound, an article from the BBC reports how Deflem owns hundreds of copies of Gaga’s albums, and has met the star on five different occasions. Playing the devil’s advocate, this course could be seen as a fans opportunity to imprint their love (or obsession), of Lady Gaga into impressionable young students.
I’m sure, when Lady Gaga sung “Fame, doin’ it for the fame” she didn’t mean the fame of “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of the Fame”. Although, I think Deflem may have ‘heard’ otherwise…