The blue skirt

I could see her blue skirt through the shoulders of the people sitting in front of me. I would lose the sight of her, I would get distracted reading, I would start thinking about something else. Then I would gaze with no purpose at the playground and see her blue skirt. And seeing it would make me feel peaceful.

It was mid July and it was hot. Too many things going on around; in the world and in my own life. I was glad we were moving. With all the stress of packing, finding new place to live, working on new projects, with all the good and bad things it entails, I still was glad that we were not staying here. People around looked wealthy and happy. They complained about the freshness of the bread, argued about the price of the meat, and discussed their vacations; they dressed well and talked loud. The waiters patted my children on their heads when they took them inside to chose the ice-creams. I loved the city and the people.

And then I could not remain stale. I felt being a part of the things that happened; people being killed in other countries, poverty, stupidity, and unnecessary acceptance. I knew that my thoughts did not solve anything. But they also made it impossible for me to argue about the freshness of the bread or the latest issue of the women magazine. There were other things close to my heart. There was a future to be built, the kids to be fed and taken care of, projects to be carried through.

I liked that we were moving and that the kids could see people in other parts of the world and have a different perspective on things. Even if this meant leaving their friends and grandparents behind. All the hassle of packing, selling, moving did not feel hard after all.

I was catching the sight of the blue skirt that my daughter wore that day. And this patch of blue made me feel fine.

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In the summer of 1999

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On a hot July afternoon I waited until the church clock struck 4pm. I remember I stood next to that old wall made of uneven yellow stones and each stone was very hot. Everything around me was hot from the sun and I just waited there and listened to music with the headphones in my ears. I did not want to think, I was nervous. When the church clock and then the church bells announced 4pm I walked up the narrow stairs adjacent to the wall and rang the doorbell. After a long silence a priest dressed in black opened the door. I walked inside the room where the air was cold.

“I am here to see the priest,” I said.

“I am the one,” the man replied and stretched his hand to me. “Please sit down.”

We sat for a minute in silence on the opposite ends of a large wooden table. He looked at me and then I finally said, “I want to convert into Catholic.”

He fixed his eyes on mine and the silence became even deeper and I could feel the texture of the wooden table under my hands. And my fingers became cold and I did not move.

“Why?” he asked.

And I told him a story of love. I told him that I was in love with a man who was Catholic and believed in God. And I was not Catholic and did not know if I believed in any God or religion. And that I thought that if I would become Catholic I could probably see the things that he sees and have a new perspective on things, and love differently. And be loved.

I did not say anything else.

And then the silence and the cold air inside the room became unbearable. And we looked at each other. May be five minutes have passed. And then the priest spoke.

“You do not need it,” he said. “You do not need to become Catholic or believe in anything else apart from what you believe in already. You have it all within you. You are strong. You do not need anything else.”

He talked for a little bit longer, but I could not concentrate and I did not remember his words. I felt calm only when I was outside walking fast up the street. It was hot again and the sun was burning my skin. It was the summer of 1999. The priest was the priest of Santa Maria del Mar church. And I was 21 then.

…..

The Santa Maria del Mar church was full of tourists. I stood there and watched how all of them were buying church candles and lightening them. I stood in the middle of the crowd and looked up for a while. There is silence when you look up. I hesitated if I should get a candle too. Then I walked outside. I stood on the church steps and looked at the people passing in front of me. Since the first time I crossed this church entrance in 1999 I got attached to it. Apart from sharing the name, I loved that this is the church where wives, lovers, and daughters of the sailors came to pray for the men who were in the open sea. I thought that I would also light a candle for somebody who is on a mission. Every time I left this city I became one of those sailors too.

I stood on the steps thinking all this, and thinking about all the moments I spent inside this church. Never like a passer by. I crossed its doors when I felt down, sometimes in despair, sometimes full of resolution, once with the tears in my eyes. I never came here on purpose either but found myself to be nearby when I need it the most. And then I always found strength to go forward.

I went back inside the church. I got a candle and walked along all the saints and looked at them. And then I saw one who was not suffering. She stood with her head high and with two little angels around her. It said Santa Maria Cap de la Cort (Santa Maria the head of the court). I lighted a candle there, watched the flame for a second, and left the church.

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A comment

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Yesterday night my seven-year-old daughter was reading us a book before going to sleep. In the book a boy, Anton, gets angry because other kids do not want to play with him.

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Anton says he will leave and never come back, because he will be dead. And then he pretends that he is dead.

At this point my four-year-old son asked, “Is he really dead?”

To which my daughter replied, “Or course not. Can’t you see? He is just a small boy. Children never die. To die you have to live long and grow old. To die you have to become an old man with a beard. Haven’t you seen how old people look? He does not look old. Look! You can’t die when you are that young.”

“Aga,” said my son. “Then he is not dead.”

“Of course not. He is just pretending, because this is the way he plays.”

I just listened and my daughter kept on reading. I thought that the way children see the world is very different from how we see it. May be we know more, but their view is truer to what is should be. I keep thinking about her words and wondering what future in her head looks like. I get to know it little by little through her comments and games. Interesting & inspiring!

DSC_3069DSC_3070DSC_3071DSC_3072DSC_3073and at the end…DSC_3076

 

So you walk on stage…

Palau de la musica

I was sitting in the theater, on the first balcony, right above the left side of the stage. I watched the young girls dancing below me. I could see their hands, faces, and feet. I could also see all the small mistakes and inexact movements. Now that I have been on the rehearsals I knew what the perfect performance should look like. But it was not the uncleanness of their steps that bothered me.

While listening to the Mozart’s music and seeing the little bodies transforming the stage in to a magical world I thought that what did not let me enjoy the performance to its fullest was the tension. The tension was visible on almost every ballerina face. The tension transformed their hands and feet. It was the tension and the attention to detail that danced that night. It was not the joy of dancing. Coached to smile while on stage, some of the girls would suddenly stretch their mouths in long smiles. But the smiles were not radiant. The glow did not come from inside. I longed to see a ballerina who enjoyed the dancing more than each particular detail of the dance. And right then one came on stage. And the glow was so radiant that I closed my eyes for a second.

I stood up and leaned on the wall right over the stage. And looked. And then I thought that our life is not different from that. After years of being grown ups we become professionals at this grown up life thing. We know how to do our jobs, how to run our households, how to bring up our children, how to maintain our relationships, how to talk to other grown ups and how to talk to children. Those of us who are any good focus on details, because finally details are what make us be us. It is about how you talk, how you eat, how you dress, how you hold your pen, how you close the door, how you sleep on the couch when you are tired and nobody is watching you. All these are details and our faces are tense making sure we do not omit anything. Then there is the next level: the radiance of living. Once all the details are perfectioned and become part of us, once we remember what it feels like to gaze at the sky, to laugh without stopping, to run for no apparent reason, once we love ourselves again only then we are able to make others smile. Only then we are able to give something valuable and irreplaceable to the world around us. And it is not easy and it does not happen by itself. And then I thought that I always appear serious in life and on the pictures. I thought that I was no different from these young ballerinas who learned all the details of the dance, but have not yet got to enjoy it truly. Without this glow we can never create anything of value.

I ran down the beautiful theater stairs, I crossed the hall, I showed my green pass to the guard, and pushed the hard wooden door. I ran down the simple greenish stairs and went straight into the open door that said Camerinos. There I found my daughter already changed.

“How was it?” I asked her.

“It was great!”  she replied.

“Lorena, listen, next time you go on stage just enjoy it, ok? Do not think about anything, do not think about your hands, your feet, your face. Just think how you enjoy dancing, how you enjoy dancing on stage. Think about yourself. Dance for yourself. It does not matter if you make mistakes, it does not matter if you lose extra second with a movement. It really does not matter now. Just love yourself when you dance. Will you?”

“I will. I already do,” she said.

And then I thought that she knows so much more than I do. So, you walk on stage… and you must love yourself. I am learning from her now.

Ballet Junio 2014

Branding Video in Mallorca

I want to share something really cool that we have just did. It is a lifestyle video, part of a branding campaign for MyrdaJ summer 2014 collection. I am passionate about it because it has a lot of “firsts” in it.

It was the first time I produced a lifestyle video. I asked my best friend and a very talented photographer Noelia to shot the video for me. It was the first video she ever did. As MyrdaJ is a very new fashion line, we did not have the budget to hire a professional model. Thus Noelia asked her friend to be the model for the video. And this was the first time Emma has ever modeled. And I think she is awesome in the video!

From my experience in working with fashion designers and fashion brands, this was the first time that I have been given the carte blanche. Myrda is amazing to work with.

These three women: Myrda, Noelia, and Emma inspire me to go ahead. This is why I am so passionate about what I do every day, and about this video that we have just released.

This is a great start!

 

Rien

Yesterday reading a book to my children I was impressed by the beauty of the word “rien”. Translated from French it means “nothing”. I repeated it in my head many times. When you pronounce it the immenseness of space opens in front of you.

Rien à dire. Rien à faire. Rien à perdre. Rien des problèmes. C’est rien. Rien de rien.

Rien. Nowhere is where you start. Nothing is what you own. These are the most powerful words that exist. They hold the place where you can live, where you can dream, where you can begin.

I was walking down the street this morning amazed by this word and what it entails. Rien.

Poussière (dust) was the other word on my mind. There is a link between these two words. The heartbeat. Both words share the beauty of the space.  Both words remind me of this song.

Rien

A place to start. A place to end. A place to be.

The happiest person in the house

With David May 2014 bn
“The kids are having a blast!” one of the guests said.
“I am having a blast!” replied David.

It was 8pm and the kids’ joyful screams could be heard all around the place. There we were twelve adults sitting around a messy table in the back patio. The party started as a lunch, then it smoothly merged into coffee & cupcakes, and then continued as an improvised dinner. A house of a school friend of mine. A small house in the upper side of Barcelona.

We were sitting around the table laughing and talking nonsense. We talked about work, going fishing, cooking, and food. In Spain you always end up talking about food.  Then David,  the younger brother of my school friend, now is his thirties, popped up and told something about the snails. And it was funny and we could not stop laughing. Then the kids came chasing him and he run with them inside the house to continue playing hide-and-seek-carnival-twister-indians game. We could hear their enthusiastic giggling and laughter.

We spent the evening sitting outside talking, eating, drinking, and trying to relax. The three kids and David would stop by the patio sometimes and grab a piece of bread or a cupcake and disappear again in the depths of the house. Shouting and jumping. When David would sit at the table with us for a minute or two, with my son on his lap (my son did not want to separate from David even for a second), I would look at his face and know that he was the happiest person in the house. He was the only grown-up who was not self-conscious.

Later that night walking home under the dark starry sky I thought about David and the rest of us. Too often we make ourselves believe that we are not self-consious. We try to appear in our own eyes as naive, genuine and happy. We sit still, relax, and smile when somebody takes a picture. Too often we do not play with the children. Too often we do not laugh wholeheartedly. Too often we are too tired to play hide-and-seek or to take time and listen what games the children want to play with us. Too often during the day we convert into self-conscious grown-ups.

We were a great bunch of relaxed adults that night. David was the only one who was truly happy and enjoyed the moment. I think that it is easy to sit and overview what the children are doing. It is easy, and tiring, and not rewarding. Getting really involved with the kids and being part of the game takes more energy. It is also magical.

Barcelona My Love

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It was a perfect day today.

While unhappiness is complicated, happiness is very simple. It is visual, it is physical, and it consists of small acts that make us happy. I am talking about things like walking down the street, having a coffee with a friend, working on an interesting project, looking at the flowers in the flower-shop window, and talking to new people.

The day started simple, I walked down the Muntaner street all the way to Diagonal. It was sunny. I got a coffee at Le Crusto and walked with the coffee. Walking in Barcelona is a blast. It is one of my favorite cities to live in.

The streets look beautiful. I love the trees in bloom and the flower shops. And I like people who like flowers and flower shops.

I turned down on Passeig de Gracia and walked two blocks against the light. I stopped at a small store to get the rubber bands that my daughter is crazy about. It seems to be a fad in her school and in the whole city. All the moms, teachers, grandmas, dads, brothers wear those handmade colorful rubber bracelets.

I turned at the corner of La Pedrera and reached Pau Claris street. There was the cafe, Jaime Beriestain, where we held our focus group. The place was full of green sofas and flowers. The meeting was a good one, I learnt a lot, specially, I got a lot of insight on how to run a better focus group next time. When the coffee is good and you get to learn things that interest you, you are happy. At least I was.

Once done with the meeting I headed to Valencia street, where my favorite bookstore is located. Jaimes, the French bookstore. And I stood there and read the titles in the children section and held the colorful books in my hands. I got some books for my kids. The Barbapapa for my daughter and Boucle d’Or et  les Trois Ours (The Three Bears) for my son. He studied this tale in detail during the first term in his school. This book will be full of great memories for him.

Things are not always smooth in life. In the past years I realized how difficult the things can be. I went (still going through) the separation process with my husband. It is not a fun thing, and those who have lived it, know it. However, through all the pain we were able to stay friends and make it the best for the kids and us. Every day I realize how grateful I am for having him as a friend and as a father of my children. I also appreciate the patience and ability we both put in to make our relationship during and after the separation better and not worse.

From where I am right now, I see that pain and unhappiness are small tunnels in our souls, that we dig ourselves. We are alone in those tunnels, we are the only ones digging them. And happiness is like sunlight. It is very simple, very generous and we want to share it with others. Happiness is walking down the street and stopping to look at the flower-shop window, and some times making a self portrait to make it more fun. Happiness is to just live and to enjoy small things. Like the fact that in ten minutes I will see my kids; and that my son got a haircut yesterday and I will probably almost not recognize him.

DSC_7834Walking down Muntaner Street.

DSC_7842On the corner of Muntaner Street and Diagonal Avenue

DSC_7844Walking along Diagonal Avenue

DSC_7846Diagonal Avenue

DSC_7851Rambla de Catalunya where it touches Diagonal Avenue

DSC_7852Diagonal Avenue close to Passeig de Gracia

DSC_7854Bus stop on Diagonal Avenue

DSC_7860Flower shop on Pau Claris Street

DSC_7888Cafe Jaime Beriestain on Pau Claris Street

DSC_7867Entrance to Cafe Jaime Beriestain

DSC_7868Inside cafe Jaime Beriestain

DSC_7875Our focus group meeting at Jaime Beriestain

DSC_7882Coffee and sandwich at cafe Jaime Beriestain

DSC_7892On Valencia Street

DSC_7895Walking along Valencia Street

DSC_7899A flower shop on the corner of Valencia Street

DSC_7900Flower shop on the corner of Valencia Street

DSC_7906Jaimes French bookstore on Valencia Street

French books March

DSC_7924Small rubber bands that my daughter uses to make bracelets

DSC_7907Flower shop on Valencia Street (right next to the French bookstore)

DSC_7909Cafe on Valencia Street

DSC_7910Houses on Valencia street (close to Passeig de Gracia)

DSC_7916Lamp posts on Passeig de Gracia

DSC_7921Passeig de Gracia

On absurdity

(a sonnet with two extra lines)

In the absurdity of mind
The logic stamps the days and nights,
The swamps and skies, the black and white.
The words of love are steamed and blind.

In pools of moonlight beauty lays
The touch of glass on lips divine,
The taste of strawberry and wine,
The corner life that mind buys.

The morning bath of nice eyes,
The cold palm on naked hips,
The air broken like ice.

The streets with slow moving fish,
The stalls with lovers stashed like mice;
Disunity of parted lips.

In the absurdity of mine
The touch of glass is like a kiss.

When the taxi left

When the taxi left I walked to our apartment building. It started to rain. In the taxi he had turned his head back and waived at me, and I tried to keep my face still. I was crying. I have cried the previous night too.

He arrived home from his trip late at night. It was the first time we saw each other since we separated. He sat on the kitchen and ate the soup I have cooked earlier that day for our son. It had piston pasta and it took forever to boil the pasta for the soup. Both of us stood in the kitchen waiting for the pasta to be cooked. Then he ate. It was well after midnight.

I asked him how his trip to Rome went. And he told me it was fine. He said he was blessed to have met some very kind and beautiful people there. He also said that he knew that the God would help him and that everything would be fine.

I started to tell him about the children, and how our son did something funny last night. And he asked me not to talk about the children. And I stopped.

“Even though I think you are making a huge mistake now, I am thankful to you for breaking this marriage,” he said after a while. He spoke slowly, keeping the words calm. “When you told me that you wanted to separate, I felt liberated. For the first time in my life I suddenly felt free from my fears. Since I got to know you and to love you I feared you would leave me. Since the first day of our marriage everything I did was done out of fear. I tried to guess your smallest wishes and to give you everything you had ever asked for, because I told myself that if I did so you would love me. And then I always feared losing you. I became nervous, I got our family in debt, I had anxiety attacks, I built a life that was guided by my fear of you leaving. I could not sleep, I could not act as a person should, I loved you so much. I still do.”

I was quiet. My body hurt from a cloud of pain. It was everywhere. A cloud much greater than me. I started to cry. First silently, then abruptly, choking with my own breath.

“I think you are committing a huge error in breaking the family. And still I respect your decision. And I admire your strength and your guts. I am thankful. I know you are doing it out of the best intentions for both of us and our children. In Rome, I met some nice people. I had the best time in my life despite the separation. I told them everything and they behaved like people I knew for ages. We became friends. Fourteen years admiring you I forgot how easy it is to get a woman. In Rome every day women would want me. On parties girls would try to make it with me, on a bus station a beautiful Italian started to talk and gave me her phone number. The world is full of women. Of amazing beautiful women who would love to spend their time with me. I am not going to lead a lonely life. The darn thing is that I have seen it all. And there must be no more than two women worth to live or die for. And one of them is you.” He paused, and then added, “And the second one is probably our daughter.”

“I talked to a friend about our separation, and I told her that the life will still be beautiful. It will be a very different kind of beauty though.”

“Everything will be fine. I know you will have an amazing career. I know that it is career that you are leaving me for. You will go to USA and have all these amazing things like cars, books, clothing, good schools, all the fluff of the Bay Area, men, everything. This is why I tried to run away from it all. I wanted to live in Sicily, to have a simple life, just you, our children and our life. But you do not want it. I do not blame you. I am thankful to you for giving me the freedom. Freedom from my fear of losing you. You do not know what it is to suddenly live without fear. Until the last month I did not know it either.”

I was not feeling well. I could not breath. I did not argue because there was no point in it. It did not matter if what he said was right or wrong. I went to sleep. It was 3am and I lay in my bed trying to keep my back straight, but it curved, as a sign of protection or weakness. I have never realized how our relationship has been piloted by fear. Fear is the only thing I hated with all my heart now. I rejected it with my body, I fought it with my mind. “Whatever will be, I am not going to live out of fear,” I said to myself. “Never fear anything.”

He was packing his suitcases in the guest-room. His plane to the new place was leaving next morning. I listened to his fingers typing and then I heard our daughter moving in her bed. I did not realize when I felt asleep.

Kids were excited to see him in the morning. We had breakfast as usual and we took the children to school. He kept a little bit apart when I talked to our son’s teacher about a boy in a class that kept beating our son. I asked the teacher to encourage our son to reply, to say “no”, and to hit back if needed. I did not want him to just run away. Then we left.

We went to a grocery store and he got all the things to make a tiramisu. There was a big party at his work that night and he was making tiramisu for forty people. He told me we did not have much money and I should ask my family to help with my and children’s expenses this month. I told him I would.

We went back to our apartment. He packed the tiramisu things in his carry-on, took his two suitcases and we went downstairs. He got a taxi on the street corner, put the suitcases in the trunk, and told the taxi driver to go to the airport. We hugged. When the taxi left I walked to our apartment building. It started to rain.