Headlights

IMG_7945There was a car following me all the way on the HWY 101. I noticed it when I was passing Sausalito, but it might have been following me from before that too. It was flashing its headlights at me, it passed me two times and then backed up behind me. And kept flashing the lights. “Some idiot,” I thought to myself. “Do not get nervous.” It was late. It was quarter past midnight and I was extremely tired. So tired that at times I would lose orientation and get scared for a split of a second because all the objects would start flowing around me. It was dark and there were very few cars on the highway at that hour.

I got off my exit in San Rafael and the car followed me. It followed me till I parked in front of my house. I rolled down the window as I did not want to get out of my car with that other car stopped next to mine. The man in the other car rolled down his window too and said, “You did not have your headlights on.” He smiled, waved at me and drove back in the direction of the highway.

He was right. My headlights were off. I must have forgotten to put them on in the city. “How could I ever be so tired?” I closed my eyes and felt the sharp taste of adrenaline under my tongue. And I got scared. “Thanks God that man drove behind me all the way, so others could see my car. I might have been hit by another car easily, just because it was so dark. It is good I have a guardian angel. It is really good. There must be somebody up there, the universe, that cares. Thank you for caring.” Those were the first thoughts.

If you ever drive at night and you see a car without its headlights on, do the same. You can save somebody’s life, or two, or three. And it feels precious to be on the receiving end and realize that somebody cares.

I believe in the kindness of the human kind. I believe we all care for others, but sometimes we are too scared to show it in real life. We are scared that others will think that we are idiots. Do not be scared.

Care. Do it.

A Day

SF1I slept in. The alarm sounded at 5am and I turned it off and woke up forty minutes later. I stayed in bed for another fifteen minutes letting myself dream just about hugging somebody. And I put the palm of my hand under my cheek and lay flat on my stomach. And it was comfortable and I was not sleepy. Then I got out of the bed in one move, made myself a coffee and opened my laptop.  I had to work on my deck that was a complete mess.

This deck was in constant draft stage as the things at the startup were changing quickly and I always had to update it with the new information. And the day before I realized that it was completely deformed and meaningless and I could not put it together. That day I happened to visit a friend who gave me some skiing clothing for my son that her son grew out of and I mentioned to her my worries about the deck and she offered to meet at night and help me. So I drove to the Bay Club to meet her after my MMA practice and we spent sometime on the deck and it started to make sense. Then we went out for dinner and an interesting conversation came out. We talked about our feelings and how it is important to be open with oneself about our true emotions. And she said she used to write a diary and talk to herself through that diary. And I told her that I used to write a diary too when I was sixteen or seventeen, but then I dropped it, because I was not able to be honest with myself. It ended up being just ink on paper.

This was yesterday. And this morning I started working on the deck and by 8am it was finished and in pretty good shape. I had a call with my developers and we talked about the never ending question of creating personas based on people’s vocabulary and I felt lost in the topic and completely blah. I had a morning pitch with an investor and I had no energy to do it and could not put together one convincing sentence during the call. I did not apologize for it just because I do not like to say that I am sorry. But I felt like saying “Hey, I am sorry you had to listen to this awful and boring pitch. Truthfully sorry to lose your time.” But I did not say it, and instead he asked for the deck and to follow up.

I got out of my house at noon and drove to the city for a lunch with another startup founder. They did a product called Statsbot and it gave you stats through a bot, and they were with 500 Startups now. We were meeting at a place called Avenue, I had been there before with one of my advisors. I got my lunch and the guy I was meeting was being late and this pissed me off in a way. I do not like when people are late. And I felt like leaving, but I was eating my lunch and still had some time till my next meeting. The guy showed up about half an hour late and we talked. He was from Moscow and had just recently moved here. He said the city was dirty, expensive and full of homeless people. He sounded slightly arrogant, but I assumed that this was because he was recently from Moscow. Otherwise he was an okey guy. He said he liked it here and wanted to stay in the area.

SF6

I drove to my next meeting which was with a personality test company. I met the founders a week before at a French Tech Breakfast, and they were a French company with HQ in San Francisco doing personality assessment for enterprises. And as in my company we were getting into building personas tied to vocabulary usage I thought that I should find a better solution than creating it ourselves from scratch. The conversation went well and the guys offered a partnership that might turn out exactly what we need. The first step was taken and now my developers would have to talk to their data scientist to see how we can make it work.

I left their office at 3:45 and I still had time till my 6pm pitch event. I got into my car and drove around to find a cafe I could work or read from. I found nothing at first. And then I remembered that there was a cafe on the 18th street where I was once or twice before. Farley’s. It was a few minutes away and I drove there and parked on a steep street, so steep that it was impossible to walk it in high heels.

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The cafe was full. Everybody was siting with their laptops and headphones. I stood at the bar and got an espresso and a madeline. I decided it was ok to eat a madeline now, even though I was on a track to lose 6 Lbs in the next few weeks. It was not for the weight loss per ce. It was for competing in the feather division in U.S. Open BJJ tournament. And I needed to lose 6 Lbs for that. And I did not want to leave it till the last week, like I did with the American Cup. When I was literally starving for the last two days and had no strength to fight on the mat. And then I lost. So, now the plan was to lose these 6 Lbs this month and just keep the weight till the tournament in October. Anyway, one madeline was fine, I told myself. There were no empty tables around thus I went to the big round table next to the window where just one guy was sitting and I asked him if I could sit there too. He smiled nicely and said “please do”. And then he told me that he had a madeline too and it was extremely good. He said he did not eat such a good madeline in a while. And I smiled and opened my laptop. I reviewed the deck, and sent it to another founder to ask for his feedback. And then I knew I had no energy again. I read through the deck and sent it to a few more people, including my advisor, and asked for their feedback. And then I straightened my back and said to myself, “you can’t pitch like this when you have no energy”. May be it was true, and I was just too tired and did not sleep enough. This was what my friend told me yesterday night at dinner.

I sat there and thought that it made no sense to think about tiredness right now. I got another espresso. I really liked the taste of it. And I looked at the guy in front of me and I wanted to ask him what was he doing. He was typing something quickly and he looked stressed out. He had his phone, his sunglasses and a small red notebook next to him. Exactly the same objects I had next to my laptop except that my notebook was blue. And I thought about starting a conversation, but then I felt like I might be bugging him. I should probably not disturb people that let me sit at their tables. I wanted to talk to him badly and I was afraid to ask him anything at the same time. And I sat there for 10 minutes debating if it was ok to ask him what he was doing. And I remembered a picture a friend posted on Instagram earlier that day, an image in a mirror of two people sitting on the opposite sides of a table in a bar and each of them looking at their phones.

I looked over my laptop and asked him if the things were going wrong. Because he had just shook his head in distress. And he looked back and said he was struggling with his US citizenship application. And I asked him where he was from. And he said he was from Portugal. And then we talked about countries we were from and somehow we moved into talking in French, because he had lived in Paris for quite a number of years. And then we switched back to English because I was explaining him what I was doing at my startup and I can’t talk work in French. And he told me that he worked in the consultant business for the past 10 years and he quit a month ago and started his own company. Which was something like cross cultural consulting. By that time we both have closed our laptops and the conversation was very interesting and flowing. It was a little bit past five and we both had to leave, but we agreed to meet again. We shook hands and he looked me in the eyes and said, “By the way, my name is Alex and thank you so much for starting this conversation with me.” And I was glad I started it.

I walked to my car and I knew I had all the energy again. It felt very good to be able to talk to a stranger and become less strangers. To be able to be part of the real life.

I arrived to the event venue right on time. It was 6pm when I entered the lobby. In the elevator two people started talking to me about the event. And one of them turned out to be Russian. And he made a comment about the bruises on my left arm. I had forgotten about those. Those were from grappling on Sunday. Two dark bruises in the middle of my left arm. And I looked at the bruises while we were riding the elevator. In the conference room there were some snacks and drinks and I stood with those guys and talked about the Olympic games and startups. Another two guys joined our group and one of them told about his hardware device for phones and tablets. And we all looked at it and tried it and told him it was great but too expensive. And somebody asked me what I was doing, and I said I was pitching my company tonight and they asked what was it. And I explained. And one of the guys introduced himself to me and he said his name and he said he was from Morocco. And in a swift impulse I touched his arm and said I love people from Morocco. And I swear it sounded as if I told him that I loved him. And I had to tell something completely mundane right away to make it all sound normal. So, I told him that I have met very good people from his country and that this was a place I really wanted to visit, besides it was so close to Spain. And he said please go, it is a beautiful country. And we talked about I do not remember what. And I liked the shape of his head. And he asked for my email and we said we will talk.

At 6:30pm event speakers were all in place and we listened to them. And then a few startups did their pitches to the investor panel. And I did mine. And it was alright. After my pitch a guy siting in front of me turned his head, gave me his card and said, “Please email me, I see a lot of potential in what you are doing. This is my third startup, and I want to introduce you to some of my previous investors, because I think they would be interested in your company.” And I thanked him and got his card. A few people more gave me their cards and asked to contact them. And I smiled back and said I will. I waited till the end and stood in line to talk to one of the investors I was interested in. He was from Shasta Ventures and I liked his feedback on my pitch, and I also like his face. Right away he asked for my deck and offered to meet. And then I got excited about the product and we talked for half an hour about the details. And I told him that I wanted to help people become more confident through the language. This was the end goal of what I was doing. And I could see his eyes sparkle like mine. And it was a good sign.

I talked to couple of more company founders, one was quite interesting, it was a platform called something shoulder, and it offered verbal support to people with addictions. The founder presented himself as “I am alcoholic and I overcame this addiction by sharing and getting support from others…”. And it was interesting to listen to him. And then I bumped into the personality test people, the ones I had a meeting with earlier that day. And the conversation moved to French Tech and then business and then sports and then it was late and I left the building.

I went to the parking lot, got into my car and it felt good to sit down. I was wearing very high heels and I started noticing them towards the end of the night. I put the “Et si tu n’existais pas” song  by Joe Dassin and drove into the night city. The moon was up and the streets were peaceful. And it felt good to be at the end of the day. It was not the happiness, but it was not the sadness either. It was just feeling good to drive through the night streets of San Francisco listening to “Et si tu n’existais pas”. And I kept putting the same song over and over again. This happens to me often. I like the song and I listen to it over and over again. I drove through the downtown, and then on Van Ness, pass the City Hall and then into the Lombard street and onto the Golden Gate Bridge. On the bridge I put the same song again. I wanted to drive on the bridge listening to this song. Because I loved both the song and driving on the bridge. As I passed Sausalito and approached San Rafael the moon was on my left. And it was as if I was walking in Barcelona, along Diagonal, from Rambla de Catalunya to Plaza Francesc Masia. The moon would appear on the same spot, high above the houses on the left.

SF2

I came home and put the kettle on. I went into my bedroom and took off the black blouse I was wearing and the bra and put on the grey silk neglige, and I kept the jeans on. It was better to keep the jeans on if I was going to type on the laptop. I do not like laptop touching my skin. I made myself a tea and got a piece of flatbread out of the fridge, and hummus and pickles. I crafted a small sandwich with all that and ate it next to the kitchen counter. I took the tea to the sofa, opened the laptop and decided to type my day, how the deck was not coming out, and how I was debating if I should talk to this guy at the cafe, and how grateful he was that I did, and how swept by some sweet emotions I touched the arm of the moroccan guy, and how I drove through the night city listening to the same song over and over again.  And I told myself, “If you are going to write it all, at least write the truth.”

SF5

 

Secrets

IMG_7387

There is this feeling of lightness. Then there is the air. Transparent. The closest to the feeling of innocence. You step on the pavement. You walk on the streets and look at the trees and the houses and you feel like if you have never been wronged. And you have never wronged. And there have never been any guilt. Neither the guilt, nor the feeling of it.

There is no emotional baggage. No weight, at least. Only the secrets of the streets. Each street, each bar, each door holds a secret. And you know it and you are part of it. Because you love the secrets of this city. Your secrets too. Your streets too.

The city where you grew up as a child. It still treats you as a child. From there the feeling of innocence. From there the sense of its secrets.

You will never be a tourist here. Does not matter if you do not come back for many many years. You will still come. You will close your eyes and know all the streets and corners. And you will remember where the moon is on the summer nights. And you will walk and see the moon over the rooftops on your left.

You will never be fully home here. Because you left it. It conserves the memory of you as a child. When you were young. And now you feel that the gravity is a little bit lesser here than in the rest of the world. And you feel light. And completely guilt-free. And you laugh, and drink wine, and do your best to keep its secrets.

 

First 24 hours

I woke up in a cold sweat. I checked my phone and it was 4:10am in the morning. And right away I started worrying about work. I thought about things that I needed to do and the upcoming trip to Lille next week. And I became more worried. I have not checked my emails since we landed in Barcelona the day before. I sat up on the sofa, opened my laptop and went through the emails. I replied one that was urgent. I hoped that going through my work would calm me down. But it did not. On the contrary, I felt guilty for coming to Barcelona and not working for the past day. I went back to bed and lay down and hoped to fall asleep. But instead I started crying. I told myself not to worry but it had no effect.

It was the loneliness. Being for too long all by myself, building a company and taking full care of two kids. And not having a shoulder to lean upon if things were not going well. And many times things were not going well.

My son came from his room and lay next to me. He said he was afraid and he wanted to sleep with an adult. He was also jet lagged.

I thought about the trip, about kickboxing in the new gym that evening and about the late dinner we had with my old school friend. And all these things mixed up in my head and became one big thing, one big emotion that was meaningless. But then all new things are meaningless till you make them yours. You feel lonely, because you do not belong to them yet. And there was the salty taste on my lips. I was crying again.

It was late dinner and we were sitting outside with some wine and food plates. There were three people on the table next to us and they were upset at each other and arguing. The girl said something very impolite to the man because he did not want to share his drink with her. She rose up and told him how mean he was. And he pulled his hand away from her, drank from his glass and told her to let him be. They were loud. You don’t see anything like this in California. At least not in the places we used to go to.

Except once. When I heard a man crying. I turned my head and it was a black man crying over an untouched food plate. He was with his girlfriend and he was asking her not to leave him. And she insisted that all was over between them. And he cried and tried to talk her out of it and she just replied “no” and some other short sentences. She was done with it.

I was tired and it was still night. I think it was Hemingway who said that it was easy to be hard-boiled about everything during the day time, but at night it is another thing. I lay quietly and tried not to move.

I woke up past noon and it was very hot and humid. The kids were in the roof garden watering the plants and I could hear their happy voices. I poured myself a glass of water because it was too hot for a coffee. I stood in the kitchen for a little while. Then I also made myself a coffee. I took the coffee and water to the terrace and sat there thinking about emails I have to answer, work to do and whether or not I should go to kick-boxing this evening. “Just do the work now and decide about kick-boxing later,” I told myself. I looked at the plants on the terrace and suddenly felt completely fine. All the night worries were gone. I still had a trace of loneliness and it reflected in everything I did. But it was ok. This was real life. I was alone. No need to pretend that I was not.

I sat on the sofa with the laptop on my knees and did all the work I had to do. I napped and then took my boxing gear and went to the gym. There I wrapped my hands, put the boxing gloves on and we started. All I could see was the other boxing gloves. And the narrow eyes over these other boxing gloves. Eyes with a focus of a hunting animal. When the round ended I thought that my eyes must look the same when I fight. I drunk water in gulps and the new round started. And all I did was focus on punching better. Each punch was important and it must be good. Do not slack. Do not shorten it. You must last a little bit longer.  That’s the trick, you must last a little bit longer.

If it is worth it

May 2016

How many times I have been scared?

When I did anything worth it I was scared. Not scared constantly, but at times. I would proceed my way and move forward with enthusiasm and intensity, but at times I would stop to gaze at the sky, to savor a gulp of coffee, to look at my child and then I would be scared. I would be scared of everything I am doing and of the consequences if I fail. But then I remind myself that everything I did that was worth it in my life was not applauded by my family, it did not seem rational, it was not practical, it was not easy, nobody believed I can do it, many would tell me why do not you do this or that instead? And so on…

If it is worth it, you will be scared at times.

If it is worth it, it will not seem most rational or practical.

If it is worth it, there will be many who will not get it.

And this is great. I mean it. It is great that people can have their opinions and that they can not like what I am doing and still the world is large and we can all live together.

If it is worth it, it will be hard too.

And this is great too. Because hard is not an amount of time, it is an amount of intensity (energy) you put into something. And the more you put on your end, the more you receive. I am not talking just money. I am talking satisfaction. I am talking why we live on this planet and what we can do to make the life better (for the mankind).

At times I am scared at what I am doing now. Ok, those are short instances. Today I started doing the incorporation paperwork for my company and I am hiring people and getting my first investment and I plan to build a French team this summer. And when I get a quiet moment driving from Palo Alto meetings to Sausalito to pick up my kids, I ask myself what the hell am I doing. Because I might as well end up bankrupt in 2 months. And then, ok, I know I am doing it because this is what I want to do and I know it is the right thing even if scary at times. It will have impact on lives of others. And it is sexy mind work.

And then again everything seems alright. The sky is blue. The car goes smooth. And I look forward to the kickboxing in the evening. And I can forget that I am scared.

The dream

I saw you in my dream tonight,
Your eyes narrow, your forehead wide.
And you looked old
Or young was I?

You saw me first, you called my name,
You were with friends enjoying a game
In old French park
In Spanish alley
With stone arch
In bright green ivy.

I heard your voice and looked your way
And took the path to joyful game.
Your negro friend
With strong black hand
Gave me a hug
Or a command?

You were so close in my dream,
Your eyes kind, and wicked as steel.
And I felt frightened at the deal
Of coming night.
The hug was light,
The fire bright.

We stood under the chestnut tree,
Your skin, your mouth, your eyes and me.
“We do not have much luck, do we?”
And I said nothing.

I woke up. It was still dark.

9 to 5

The Godmother of my daughter called to wish her happy birthday and asked me about our plans. And I told her about our plans. I told her about the plans for the summer and for the next year. I love her a lot because she loves us. And I can feel it. And I think it is a great reason to love somebody, just because they love you.

I told her about the company I am building and that I am planning to make it French-American and that starting this summer the kids and I will spend some part of the year living and working in Paris. And another part here in California. And I told her that I am really into the product we are doing and into the idea of what it will be in a few years from now. And she told me not to kill myself over it. She told me that she thinks I should save money and buy a house. And have a stable home for the kids and myself.

And I told her that I am not planning to kill myself or die in the intent of building something, however, if I were asked if I would be ok to die in 5 years from now if I manage to build a large company and pay well to my employees and make sure that each of them can buy a house I would go for it without thinking. If I was asked if I would be ok to die in 5 years from now in exchange for a beautiful house for the kids and myself I would definitely say no. A house has no value by itself for me. I would love to have one as a by product while I strive for my goals.  Impacting hundreds of lives for the better does have a lot of value for me, it is something I would easily give my life for.

We will all die eventually. On a larger scale, as part of the mankind, it does not really matter whether I live 45 years or 85 years. What matters is if I was able to impact the world to make it a better place for this generation and for the future generations. And then I thought that it is very related to the 9 to 5 mindset. You either work based on hours (effort) or based on impact. While there is a certain correlation, you have to chose one or the other, there is no in-between. And there is no right or wrong answer. The world needs both types of people.

Our mindset is deeply routed in our heart. From there come all the conclusions and we say that we want to have 9 to 5 life or that we want to go and fight for something better.

I want to fight for something better. For better lives for people around me, for people in Europe who do not have that access to money and growth. I was talking to the head of the largest French investment bank last week and he said that many French startups come to Silicon Valley for growth and money but that he does not know of a case of an American startup going to France. He was a great guy and he said “You will be the first one if you want to go crazy.” And I said “Yes, let’s go crazy”.

My kids’ Godmother loves us a lot. She called me back and she said that I should find a soulmate and that I should find a place that I can call home. And I said I will. Because I did not want to be confrontational and also because I know I will. My family moved permanently out of Moscow when I was 12 and we moved countries year after year. Sometimes I really wish there would be a place I could call home… And strangely enough I found home in the night sky. I feel home when I look at the stars at night. No matter where we live I can recognize the stars on the sky. And they are the same from San Francisco, from Paris, from a tansmedeterranean cruise ship in the open sea, from Moscow, from the Pyrenees, from Norwegian villages in the Arctic circle, from our Barcelona balcony. Looking at the night sky always makes me feel home.

(This is why I am getting my daughter a real telescope on her 9th birthday. We will assemble it together tomorrow and look at the stars.)

This is all the time we have for today

“This is all the time we have for today,” said the instructor at the end of the class. We bowed, thanked each other for the practice and one by one left the dojo.

I put my jogging hoodie over my half wet t-shirt and went to the grocery store to get some plastic cups for the birthday party tomorrow. I forgot to get them in the morning when I did the rest of the shopping for the party. I was tired but not exhausted. In my mind I pictured each move we learnt today and how I did the moves and thought that I could have done them better. I could have put at least 20% more effort in each move, even if it hurt and at that moment it seemed impossible. This is all the time we have for today. Just one hour. There were three of us and David, the instructor, in this takedown class. And one hour of time. What we did in this hour, what we achieved in this hour, how well we worked with the partner depended on each of us. We could just show up or we could make a difference. The time allocated was the same, the space was the same, but the impact each of us created was different.  I heard this phrase, about the time we have for today, many many times, may be every day.

And I thought that at the end of my life it will be no different. As I drove back home I imagined a man’s voice saying “This is all the time you have” and then there will be the end. This is all the time I have. A life like a day. Like one hour of a day. Finite. And may be I will think that I did not do enough effort. That I could have tried a little bit harder and the impact would have been multiplied by ten.

Thinking this I push myself a little bit more every day. Much more. We do not know how much we are capable of till we actually do it.  And there is a reason to push ourselves to do better.

MMA is not an end in itself. It is not even about fighting per ce. True, I enjoy fighting and competitions. And yes, of course it allows me to defend myself and people around me, but more than that it helps me to be strong and to create enough energy to pass to others, so they can become stronger and live better. It allows me to empower them. One day, many years ago, I said to a friend that all we need is love and sunshine. And I believe it is true.

When it comes to love advice is the worst thing we can give to a people. A hug is the best. And a hug with strong and reassuring hands is slightly better than “the best”. I want my hands to be strong so I can give a long hug to those who need it. And it is this need to impact people’s lives for the better that makes me wake up in the morning, read more, fight better, never slack, work on building a company, travel easily and lightly, do the impossible and bring up two kids while doing all this.

Because if I do not do it now I will not do it later. There is no later. This is all the time we have for today.

Casablanca

It was the end of 1999 and I was a student in Barcelona. I had split that week with my first serious boyfriend who I dated for about 3 months then. It was December and I was walking on the Passeig de Gracia among all the beautiful houses and expensive boutiques thinking about the relationship. Probably angry and sad at the same time. Those feelings right now seem blurry and I am not sure what I really felt. I ended up at an old movie theater where they were showing black and white films and that day it was Casablanca. I watched it. When I got out of the movie theater it was late. I found an open cafe and sat there and drunk carajillos. I was looking at the dark city streets through the cafe window and thinking how small my problems were comparing to those of the people in the movie. My love was so simple comparing to theirs. It was just a small bump on a road and I cut the relationship. I got out of the cafe, put on my long black winter coat and started walking. The coat was new and very black and still smelled like the new things smell. I do not remember the streets I walked through but I remember the smell of the coat and that I was smoking. I liked smoking in winter, when the air was cold and the cigarette kept the air around the face warm. When I reached his house it was close to 4am and I sat for a few minutes on the steps leading to the entrance door. I thought about the movie I just saw and hummed the song. I rang the doorbell and he answered after a short silence. He said he will be down in a few minutes. And I waited.

We split again a few months after that. Because things did not work for both of us. And because I met somebody from Pamplona and we drove to San Sebastian together, where they served huge sandwiches with tortilla and where we swam in an ice-cold water in May to prove our bravery and make life fascinating. But this was later that year and of course I did not know anything that was going to happen.  Then, sitting on the steps, I wanted things between us to work and he was my first serious boyfriend. And I thought that love was just that simple. The love between man and woman.

He came down and we walked towards the sea. We reached the beach when it was still night. It was windy and the wind sounded like a trombone. And we stood there and kissed and watched the boats move in the water. We did not talk much. It was cold before the daylight and there was not much to say. He held me by the waist and I put my head on his shoulder and we walked like that. Slowly, not to shorten the moment of calmness. As the daylight settled in we found a cafe that had just opened and had croissants and coffee there. And I told him about the movie and how our love was simple and beautiful. And he said that I was crazy. But he loved me that way and we were very happy then.

Nice people…

I did not make a picture with him. Because I liked talking to him. I liked it so much that I knew picturing would break the reality of it. Everybody else made pictures with him, because he was the star.

-Were you aggressive as a child?

-Yes. Very.

-Me too. Once I broke a hand of a boy who hit my brother… I got almost expelled from school then.

-Me too, – and he smiled with a serious smile.

And I liked how his head looked. When he left the party I could still see the shape of his head.

-Well, you really had good time talking to him,- one of the masters approached me while I was getting a piece of grilled meat and eating it with baguette.

-He is a nice guy.

-Nice guy? Hmm,  – he chuckled – this is the first time I hear him called “nice guy”.

-I do not mean nice like people mean it here. I do not like nice people. They are nice on the surface and then they betray you and hurt you.

-Me too. I know what you say. People tell me I am mean, and I know I am mean, but my heart is kind, – and he put a hand on his chest.

I love quietness and peace. I believe in kindness. What I also know is that since child you have to protect these values. You have to defend them. You have to fight for them. You have to fight a lot to keep the peace.

….

“Happy mothers day! You are the best mo….”. I did not open the email. I looked at the email in my mailbox and deleted it. It was from my ex-husband. It was all fake. Just words.

I was sitting in my bed with an ice-pack over my left foot. My pinkie painfully broken since Friday. All the house chores became slow. I thought that I had to do the laundry and to do the breakfast for the kids. The kids were hungry. I made a list in my head of all the things I had to do. It made me want not to get out of bed at all and I wanted to cry. But I pulled myself out and went to make a coffee. Walking was painful and slow. My parents called and wished me happy mothers day. Then friends texted. Somebody asked for a date on Monday. And I did not reply. I just sighted.

I was absolutely alone with two kids. And people were nice and never helped.

Now I had to make breakfast. To clean the table. To do some work. We had a birthday party in the afternoon and a dinner with friends afterwards. Then we found out that my daughter had fever and I gave her some ibuprofen and told her to stay in bed and read.

By noon I was tired from pain and from this feeling of betrayal. I did not like nice people, they hurt you the most. I wanted to go and train at the dojo. To feel stronger. Not to break down. The dominator. The aggressive one. But I could not train. I knew that. I felt weak. I wished I had a shoulder to lean on. I wished I could hug somebody longer than usual friendship.

I took the laptop and sat in my bed with an ice-pack. And then my son came and lay down next to me. And he felt asleep.

And after all the fighting and pain it felt peaceful.