When I was a little thing
I was completely taken by the idea of Fairy Rings. These are naturally occurring circular formations of mushrooms found in parks and woodlands across the world. I knew that if you stepped inside one you would be trapped, forced to forever dance with the fairies until you died of exhaustion or madness. Being born is kind of like stepping into Fairy ring; you don’t choose to stumble in but once you do you’ve got to dance with all the strange creatures.
My mum pushed me into the ring and her mum before that and her mum before that. She has been a witness of the entirety of my dance so far, yet I have only seen 19 years of hers. Even less than that if one takes into account the fact that I have no memory before hitting the five year mark. Daughterhood is entwined with the uncomfortable notion that you have always been your mother’s daughter but she has not always been your mother. This makes the relationship feel off kilter. The Western World’s vision of ancestry is usually arborescent; a hierarchal family tree takes root and you grow a branch beneath your parents. But daughterhood is different, it feels more like a rhizome; a constantly growing horizontal stem which puts out lateral shoots at regular intervals. Gilles Deleuze writes, ‘The tree is filiation, but the rhizome is alliance, uniquely alliance’. That’s what being a daughter is, it’s being in an alliance, albeit one that is asymmetrical.
Before my mum had me, she taught people how to dance, and before that still, she was a dancer herself. The first time I watched a piece my mum had choreographed for a group of students, I was startled as I was able to recognise her in each movement. Watching all her predilections put into a sequence made me proud, because I could see her in something external. The first time I ever had a dance choreographed for me and had to perform it in front of an audience, I forgot my steps half way through and ran off the stage, crying. My mum convinced me to go back on and try again. I did, but I forgot my steps for a second time and decided to just make something up until the music stopped.
I have always been the same person. For a time, my mum would buy me pretty dresses but I would refuse to leave the house unless I was wearing ten of them layered on top of each other; a stubborn little puffball. I’ve always been devious. I used to steal strawberries from my pre-school vegetable garden and sneak them home in my palm for her. Now we have a running joke that she’s a robot who is programmed to serve me and if I don’t like what she’s doing, like telling me to go for a walk, or put a sweater on, or stop putting so much butter on my bread – I tell her to delete that software.
I think I’m gradually becoming more conscious of death, whilst she’s becoming more conscious of life. I know that she wants Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones to be played at her funeral. I’ve realised that one day I’ll have to say goodbye to my best friend, that I’ll be a girl in the world and she will be gone. I think she’s starting to realise that one day she’ll have a grandchild, someone I will push into the ring to join us.
I recently found out that grass will grow greener and longer around a buried body and this could be the cause of some Fairy Rings, which I think is kinda the best scenario if you take away the magic. Every mother has a mother, who has a mother, who has a mother and we’ve all done our dance.Return to issues