swallow the stars
glow from the inside out
as the pain of what you’ve done
spreads seeping through your body
filling your veins
with excruciating light.
“Yeah, but veganising a Romani recipe means it’s not really Romani anymore, because the whole point of Gypsy cooking is that you use just the stuff you find around you,” I protested to Caitlin the last time she came to stay.
She gave me that long-suffering look that means ‘You’re an idiot sometimes, but I love you anyway’, and pointed out that pretty much all recipes aren’t exactly the way they started out. And also that I wouldn’t be foraging these things from the hedges in any case, so it didn’t really make sense to put restrictions on what I could use.
The world has been getting smaller for a long time. Since we invented the motorcar, which made journeys between towns quicker to complete, it seems that humans have been trying to bridge the distance between their communities in new and exciting ways.
The internet, of course, is a perfect example of this. It’s now possible to watch a Turkish political coup unfold on Twitter; to live stream police violence in the USA to Facebook users around the world; to converse face to face with a friend who lives thousands of miles away via Skype.
I don’t remember how I first stumbled upon Aimée Crocker’s Wikipedia page, but as soon as I did I knew I had to find out more about this woman:
“Aimée Crocker (December 5, 1864 – February 7, 1941) was an American heiress, princess, Bohemian, world traveler, mystic and author best known for her adventures in the Far East, for her extravagant parties in San Francisco, New York and Paris and for her collections of husbands and lovers, adopted children, Buddhas, pearls, tattoos and snakes.” – Wikipedia
Expat memoirs can be quite hit and miss. While moving abroad is almost invariably an interesting experience for the people directly involved, it can be quite dry to read about. So when expat memoirs drop through my mailbox, I’m not always thrilled to see them.
This one, though, is a definite exception. For one thing, Lillian McCloy is a talented writer. And for another, her story is absolutely fascinating.