Alice was half my age but twice as intelligent as me. She was an enigma threatening to dissolve my marriage.by Adam Marek / October 27, 2007 / Leave a comment
We only ever see one side of the moon. The moon takes the same time to circle the earth as it does to turn on its own axis, which means that the same point on the moon always faces the earth. A strange coincidence, but then everything about the universe is miraculous.
The moon’s rotation and orbit are so perfectly synchronised that from its surface, the earth is frozen in the sky. There is no earth-rise or earth-set, just the earth rotating in the sky, a great rolling ball that never reaches its destination.
This was one of the first things Alice told me. She was always coming out with facts like that. She had an amazing power to make me see familiar things in a new way. After she’d told me one of her facts, she would flick her head to the side to get her long hair out of her eyes, then tuck it behind her left ear; as if the movement were the full stop at the end of her story.
Alice was half my age, but twice as intelligent. She knew what was going on in the world. She could explain the Israel/Palestine conflict in neat little sentences. She knew the names of everything, of trees, of birds, of cars. She was modest. She always credited her knowledge as coming from someone else, as if she had just happened across it accidentally.
“Oh, my dad spent three years rebuilding a Volkswagen Beetle from scratch, so I got to learn a bit about engines,” she would say; or, “My uncle’s a real nature nut and he told me how to tell all the seabirds apart when we were on holiday in Scotland.”
She met informed people all the time and absorbed whatever knowledge they had to impart. I have no such ability. I could spend a week with someone smart and not learn a single thing from them. I’ve managed to live my first thirty-four years without accumulating any kind of knowledge.
I first spoke to Alice a couple of years ago at a climate change rally in Trafalgar Square. She was standing on the fountain wall, just above me, wearing a T-shirt that said “Jesus is coming, look busy.” She’d looked down at me a couple of times during KT Tunstall’s set, and I smiled back. And when the rally finished, she jumped down next…