I have never been attached to memories. I have never cared enough to take pictures, frame them and hang them on the wall in my room. Never indulged in nostalgic reverberations of the past and never sweetly smirked at pictures of my younger self. I try to always take a rational and thorough position in front of the growing wall of past from which, with a dull voice, I read, dissect and then turn my back on it immediately. Life keeps going on, doesn't it?
But the past finds its ways into the present unexpectedly and silently, like the monolith at the beginning of Kubrick's film *A space Odyssey*. My psychoanalyst says that unsolved trauma haunts the prey through dreams, unexpected reactions or sudden downfalls into dark memory lanes, triggered by random encounters of daily life. What is a trauma even? Aren't we all a bunch of unresolved traumas at the end of the day? Why do the most casual moments grow into the elephants in the room years later?
I keep waking up to this stinky giant in my room. It occupies so much space that it almost fills the room like a liquid, making it hard to breathe sometimes. This giant looks quite silly actually, if you take a deep breath and have a closer look. If kids saw him, they would laugh, thinking it was funny that I am quite scared of him. A clownish moment. He smells because he hasn't moved from the room in a while and he's got the kind of sweat that comes out when you do nothing and your body just sweats a kind of cold liquid that smells rancid, differently from the sweat one gets after exercising. My boyfriend keeps walking into the room and asking what's the smell to which I answer that I don't know what he's talking about. But I obviously know very well. It's the smell of school and nervousness. I had to be good at school, you know? I had to because there was no other option, no way out. The price for education however was fear, anxiety and emotional constipation.
"Georgiana, stand up and come to the blackboard, please. Solve the following equation.", and the lady would start pouring maths and chemistry problems out of her mouth with substances that originated from other planets.
"I'm fucking stupid", I kept repeating in my head, annoyed that I could not make sense of the chemistry phrases.
This lady always scanned the girls as they came to the from of the classroom to be humiliated. In front of this woman, I felt like a slut wearing my punk, pink and black plaid short skirt. Her gaze made me feel guilty and profane.
Now as adult my worst nightmares are about being a failure at school. I beg my teachers to forgive me, to give me just a little bit more time and I'll do good I promise. I cry in front of everyone, but they all know that I am a loser. I study hard, I do, but I keep failing and I never graduate from this damn school. I run through the hallways of schools and high schools and I enter exam rooms, i drop my pen, I start shaking and sweating lakes from my palms on the exam paper. The paper is wet and curls under my hands. I can't write on it anymore. I need to start again but the time is up. I have failed already. I got the lowest mark, so low that no one has got it before. I'll be in school forever. I keep walking into the classroom and everyone is staring at me because they know they must judge me. If you are not the best you are nothing. I walk towards the teacher and the distance between us seems infinite. Her hands rest on the big leather covered book that stores all our marks. She open it and I see I have just been marked a 3. A 3 is really really bad. You have to be the worst student who never shows up and is disrespectful in order to make the teacher give you a 3. You have to be a hooligan and illiterate to get a 3. Like something is wrong with you to get a 3 and you must be judged.
The teacher tells me in jibberish that I skipped school and that is why I got three threes. When did I skip school, I am always there? What did I do? I feel so bad and I start crying. Everyone around is celebrating their great marks except of me.
I am about to take my Baccalaureate exam which in popular culture is called "The Exam of Life". I haven't studied, I don't know what I am writing. I fail again. I cannot go to the university, then get a job, a car, a family, a successful status, a life. Will I ever be a human? I look at everyone's faces and they are disappointed. All the work and money they wasted on me - like a bet - is now all lost. I am waste of other people's efforts. They are tried hard to teach me, to explain, to polish this kid but nothing works. And I cry. I am disappointed and they are disappointed. I'll be nothing in this life.
"Georgiana, get back to your seat."
I'm silent. As I sit down I try not to make any noise and I look down.
Me and my mother had the same chemistry teacher, as if that woman was in our school since the beginning of times. Each generation feared her and no one dared to laugh or talk during her classes. My mother's year a boy died during the chemistry class. The teacher asked him to come to the blackboard an solve a problem, to check whether he's been studying enough at home. The teacher opens the leather catalogue with the marks and takes off the cap of her fountain pen. The boy is very nervous that he might her a bad mark. He tried to write with the chalk but he's feeling sick. The teacher pushes him to solve the exercise. She stares at him as if she does not know why she is wasting her time on these fucking kids. The boy wants to vomit but he is too scared that he will be punished and laughed at afterwards. He does not want a bad mark because he knows he's been studying but he cannot focus in front of the class.
The vomit comes up his throat and into his mouth, just about to explode all over the black board and the floor. But he swallows back, hoping that no one would notice, hoping that he still had a chance to get a good mark. The vomit goes back the wrong way and he chokes on it. He then dies in front of the class, covered in vomit. He is now buried in the teacher's school courtyard, where the grass is greener and the trees are nicely trimmed. The student's side of the yard is just concrete. Through the roses and trees in the teacher's yard, close to where they have their cigarettes and coffees, there is a cross.
At the beginning of the year, when the students come into the school for the first time, they are allowed to enter though the teacher's door, passing through the pretty yard. On my first day of school in 2004 I asked my mother, holding her hand tightly and scared of letting go, why is there a cross, in the school yard?