Part 7:

Here’s a part of the marquoir that I would describe as the little “hodgepodge” of our lives.

It’s the section that serves as “storage space”, which we never had the time to organize, and not necessarily due to a lack of time.  But it’s true that this part gave me some trouble, as there were so many important elements of my life gathered together but not explained.

I needed to create this “suitcase” as little by little, as the marquoir took shape, I realized there were memories, little parts of my life that had fallen by the wayside here and there.

In opening this suitcase, I got to work on its contents.  I discovered the bridge separating my adolescence and my adult life.  This section in fact includes a mix of symbols and memories that represent this transition in my life, which I didn’t exactly understand or process at the time.

I’ll start describing the contents of this section with the books in the bottom left-hand corner, which stand for school and studies.  The inkwell, as well as the fountain pen, represents drawing (in the scholastic sense).  I owe both of them, as well as my passion for drawing, to my schoolteacher Mr. Castell – I was lucky enough to be in his class for three years.

The eyeglasses perched right now on my nose but which are under the pen represent the period of time when they came into my life.

They must be part of the “little hodgepodge” as they are in fact a very important factor – they have never left my side since I got them, with just the frames changing over time.  It’s strange, this series of frames, if you take the time to think about it!  J

Big Ben stands tall in the bottom right-hand corner.  It stands for the period when I took language study courses, which I was lucky to do in England for four years during my school breaks.  I put Big Ben in my big hodgepodge suitcase, as during my adolescence, England represented a step toward my freedom and autonomy.

I lived with an English family for one month: I was free to go wherever I wanted or so it seemed, but I never went far because I had to fend for myself in English, which kept my adventures on the tame side.  J

Big Ben represents the happiness in daring to dream, freedom and discovery of the unknown…

The heart border represents the journey we all take in adolescence down the road of feelings. Don’t think counting the hearts is any kind of score card!  J

In any event, this part of adolescence – the “vie en rose”, puppy love phase – always ends abruptly.  Between the eyeglasses and Big Ben, there is a part of my life that I would prefer not to explain.

The bird located above the medications is a bearer of hope and support.  In him we can find a glimmer of light if we really want to see it.

With this bird, we move on to the briefcase and various formulas that recall my studies after middle school.

1+1 is a nod to the fractions that I truly hated – I never understood how learning fractions would help me in later life.  Anyway… J

NH3 (symbol for ammonia) represents the most interesting part of my courses in hairdressing.   It is also unfortunately responsible for the end of my hairdressing career due to an allergy provoked by being in contact with it and inhaling fumes in the workplace.

The chemical symbol is part of my hodgepodge as this time in my life (two years, from age 16 to 18) was very full.  My wish was to get my diploma in two years and leave home when I turned 18.

I did it anyway, by the way.

Shortly thereafter, the symbol V 13 right next to it expresses the fear conjured up by the birth of my first son on a Friday the 13th!  A touch of superstition that jumps out at you!  J

The birth was an instant trigger, from the first time I looked at and touched him.  I went from the suffering associated with a difficult birth to an all-encompassing inner peace, despite the anguish of suddenly feeling like I had to be a responsible adult, and despite fears of not being up to the challenge of being a mother.

This little aside is actually kind of funny, as this “baby” will be 18 years old this year, and I still feel like I never totally cut the umbilical cord.

Under the letters in the rest of the alphabet completed in part 5 are two symbols that are “spoilers” in the game of life: the snake and the bee (or wasp – for me, it’s the same thing! I don’t have time to distinguish when they’re buzzing around my head!), which provoke my two main phobias and which are the two animals I really hate.

The heart pierced with an arrow represents the events in my life, heartbroken or difficult for whatever reason, which we keep to ourselves.  It’s the symbol of our inner suffering that we always hide and never reveal – our real “suitcase” with its good and bad contents, but as poet Kahlil Gibran writes, “Sadness is merely a wall between two gardens.”*

Until next time for part 8, a universe of days passing by… “Life never goes in reverse.  It is never happy in the house of the past.”*


*Excerpts from “Lorsque l’amour vous fait signe… suivez-le” (When Love Gives You a Sign, Follow It”) by poet Kahlil Gibran. ISBN: 2709624582. Published in French by JC Lattès

(A big thank you to Malika for introducing me to Gibran’s amazing book)

 Part 8

Textes et illustrations ©Isabelle Vautier
Thank you very much to Susan Stumme for the translation in English of the pages of the Marquoir Story.