looking out my window

I woke up this morning to someone playing “Beauty and the Beast” on a flute, somewhere from a window on the other side of our apartment building. I walk out onto the balcony, and so do our neighbors down below. We ask him to play another song, because today there is no rush. Today, there’s time.

At noon, we hear a ballad of pans from children on a terrace. The metal music creates an echo between our buildings. From a distance, we smile at each other, and we feel close.

Tonight at eight, we will see each other again. We will walk out to our balconies and windows, we will turn our phone lights on and we will clap for the strong men and women that are fighting for our country. It’s a new constant that we can hang on to.

They’re strange, these days. Long and still. But the smell of morning coffee seems to be stronger, a text from a friend a written hug. And lately, when I listen to a song, I can really listen to it.

It would be fake to say that this isn’t hard. I know I’m fortunate, I am healthy and there others who are really going through a hard time. People alone, friends who tested positive and are sick in bed, worried strangers that seem more like family these days. Because if you’re hurting, I am too.

Sometimes a looming fear and anxiety will start to set in if you’re not careful to take its hand and lead it to rest. Only a few weeks ago, I was preoccupied thinking about what to do on summer break or what professional opportunities I wanted to pursue. Now, in a sudden and complete redo of a typical day, I wonder, what will i do in this 3 bedroom apartment? How do I live well in these four walls? What can I do to make my body flow, to make my mind stronger, or my heart lighter? How can I give in spirit to my loved ones who are near but not near enough? To those that were far and now seem to be even farther? How do I be kind and give to those that are doing a lot worse?

If I’m honest, I know that the incessant scrolling on my Instagram or Facebook or the news isn’t the way to combat this. I know it’s good for me to read, write, paint, watch movies… But it would be sad to distract myself so much that I would miss this opportunity to think, create, and even recreate the way I’ve been living. To seek what is true in this moment, whatever is beyond this worry or fear. What do I do when I hear the ambulance down the empty street? When I receive a sad text about another victim of this uncertain time?

I don’t have answers, but I cannot let today’s gray sky dictate how I feel or how I live through this.

So I will continue to wait for the neighbors’ songs in the morning. I will keep going out to my balcony at 8 o’clock to give the applause. I will keep looking for the spots of sun, in honest songs and uninterrupted conversations. In the sweetness of a mandarine and the song of birds during a sleepless night. In laughter and in making art, in routines and moments of rest. In moments of thought and feeling.

I will keep looking out my window, and I will keep praying that this will make us better. That this will bring out strength. That we will be surprised.

mirando por la ventana

Me desperté esta mañana con la canción de la bella y la bestia. Un vecino tocaba su flauta desde su ventana. Salgo a la terraza y le escuchamos, yo y algunos vecinos de abajo. Le pedimos que toque otra, porque hoy no hay prisas. Hoy hay tiempo. 

A las doce, los niños sacan las ollas y cucharas de madera. La música metálica hace un eco entre los edificios. Desde lo lejos, nos sonreimos, y nos sentimos cerca.

A las ocho de la tarde, nos veremos otra vez. Saldremos a nuestras pequeñas terrazas, encenderemos las luces de los móviles y aplaudiremos a todos los hombres y mujeres que están luchando por nuestro país. Es un evento constante en este tiempo tan incierto.

Son raros, estos días. Largos y quietos. Pero el aroma del café por las mañanas parece ser más fuerte, el mensaje de un amigo un abrazo escrito, y últimamente, cuando escucho una canción, puedo escucharla bien.

Sería una mentira decir que esto no es difícil. Se que soy afortunada, yo estoy bien de salud, y hay personas realmente pasándolo mal. Personas solas en sus casas, amigos que han dado positivo y están enfermos en la cama o desconocidos preocupados y heridos esperando atención en el hospital. Familiares de amigos que en estos tiempos, también son nuestra familia. Porque si tu estás sufriendo, yo también lo estoy. 

A veces esa sensación de miedo o fatiga cubre mi mente. Solo hace un par de semanas estaba pensando en decisiones que tenía que tomar, como qué iba hacer en vacaciones, por ejemplo, o decisiones profesionales. Ahora, en un rehacer repentino de un día típico, me pregunto, ¿Qué hago hoy en este piso de 3 habitaciones? ¿Cómo vivo bien entre estas cuatro paredes? ¿Qué puedo hacer para mover mi cuerpo, fortalecer mi mente, aligerar mi corazón? ¿Qué puedo regalar en espíritu a mis queridos, a los que tengo cerca pero no lo suficientemente cerca? ¿A los que tengo lejos y ahora parece que están más lejos aún? ¿Cómo puedo ser amable conmigo misma, y con los que están sufriendo mucho más que yo?

Si soy honesta, se que deslizar incesantemente por el Instagram, el Facebook o las noticias no es manera de combatir esto. Se que me viene bien leer, escribir, pintar, ver alguna peli… Pero sería triste distraerme tanto que pierda esta oportunidad para pensar, crear, hasta recrear cómo estoy viviendo. Buscar lo verdadero en este momento, lo que va más allá de este miedo o preocupación. ¿Qué hago, cuando escucho la sirena de la ambulancia pasar por la calle vacía? ¿Cuando recibo un triste mensaje de otro víctima de este tiempo tan incierto? 

No tengo respuestas, pero no puedo dejar que el cielo gris de hoy dicte cómo me siento o cómo voy a vivir esto. Por ahora seguiré esperando las canciones del vecino por las mañanas. Continuaré saliendo a las ocho para aplaudir, continuaré buscando esos rayos de sol, en canciones y conversaciones honestas, en la dulzura de una mandarina. En la canción de los pájaros en una noche en vela. En rutinas y momentos de descanso,en momentos de reflexión y consuelo.

Continuaré mirando por la ventana, y seguiré orando. Que este tiempo nos haga mejores. Que este tiempo nos haga fuertes. Que este tiempo nos sorprenda. 

olhando pela janela

Acordei hoje de manhã escutando alguém tocando ” A Bela e a Fera” com uma flauta desde alguma janela do outro lado do nosso prédio. Nos inclinamos sobre a varanda e batemos palmas, eu e alguns vizinhos lá embaixo. Pedimos que toque outra música, porque hoje não há pressa. hoje, há tempo.

Ao meio-dia, ouvimos uma balada de panelas de crianças de uma varanda. Às oito da noite, podemos esperar uma onda de aplausos para os homens e mulheres fortes que estão lutando por o nosso país. É um evento constante no qual podemos nos apegar.

São estranhos, estes dias. Longos e quietos. Mas o cheiro do café da manhã parece ser mais forte, o texto de um amigo é um abraço escrito, e ultimamente, quando ouço uma música, posso realmente ouvi-la.

Seria uma mentira dizer que isso não é difícil. Eu sei que tenho sorte, estou de boa saúde e há pessoas que estão realmente tendo dificuldades. Pessoas sozinhas em casa, amigos que deram resultados positivos e estão doentes na cama ou estranhos preocupados e feridos aguardando atendimento no hospital. Família de amigos que atualmente também são nossa família. Porque se você está sofrendo, eu também estou.

Às vezes, esse sentimento de medo ou fadiga cobre minha mente. Apenas algumas semanas atrás, eu estava pensando nas decisões que tinha que tomar, como no que ia fazer nas férias, por exemplo, ou nas decisões profissionais. Agora, em um repentino remake de um dia típico, eu me pergunto: o que farei hoje neste apartamento de 3 quartos? Como vivo bem entre essas quatro paredes? O que posso fazer para mover meu corpo, fortalecer minha mente, iluminar meu coração? O que posso dar em espírito aos meus queridos, aqueles que estão perto de mim, mas não o suficiente? Os que tenho longe e agora parece que eles estão ainda mais longe? Como posso ser gentil comigo mesmo e com aqueles que sofrem muito mais que eu?

Se eu for honesta, sei que percorrer incessantemente o Instagram, o Facebook ou as notícias não é uma maneira de combater isso. Sei que é bom ler, escrever, pintar, assistir um filme … Mas seria triste ficar tão distraída que perco essa oportunidade de pensar, criar e até recriar como estou vivendo. Procurar a verdade neste momento, o que vai além desse medo ou preocupação. O que faço quando ouço a sirene da ambulância descer a rua vazia? Quando recebo uma mensagem triste de outra vítima deste tempo incerto?

Não tenho respostas, mas não posso deixar o céu cinzento de hoje ditar como me sinto ou como vou viver isso. Por enquanto, continuarei aguardando as músicas do vizinho pela manhã. Continuarei a sair às oito horas para aplaudir. Continuarei a procurar aqueles raios de sol, em canções e conversas honestas, na doçura de uma tangerina. No canto dos pássaros em uma noite sem dormir. Em rotinas e momentos de descanso, em momentos de reflexão e conforto.

Enquanto isso, continuarei a olhar pela janela e continuarei orando para que isso nos torne melhores, para que isso nos torne mas forte, para que isso nos surpreenda.

Re-

I walk past the fruit shop every day except for Mondays, when I actually walk in and buy about 6 euros worth of fruit for the week. Mandarinas are in right now, and kiwis. I’ve been buying fresh ginger and lemon for the past month to fight off colds. It’s mostly been working so I buy some more. I say bye to the fruit man, my roommate knows his name. He nods and smiles. He is beginning to recognize me.

I have lived in almost every part of this city now. Two townhouses, three apartments. A room, an attic, a 4th floor and now a 5th. I lived in front of a supermarket at one point, and then in front of a sports club. By a train station and now by another train station downtown. I have held different jobs in each part of this town. Unfortunately, my living placements have never quite coincided with the job placements (I seem to land jobs close to ‘where I used to live’). But this has allowed me to move fluidly through the city and memorize multiple bus routes.

I have learned about the back corners of Alcalá, like the slanted forest of green that lowers down a hill where 227 passes to take you all the way to Madrid. Or the back trail by the railway, past a cemetery and onto the roundabout with the enormous red and yellow flag. Stop 11, 7 and 10 coincide there. Then there’s the dirt path road that I used to walk through back in high school and that surrounds the school where I now work.

I got off the wrong bus stop the other day and realized I was at the end of a street which I wondered about when I lived parallel to it a few months ago. It is strange, to visit each of these parts and remember different things, or to live such a different life when passing by them now. A lot can change in a small amount of time, and sometimes we don’t get to think through the things we move on from when we move, even if it’s only across the street (quite literally).

Having lived in different spots in this city has prompted me to think through these areas and what they represent or represented at the time. It has also allowed me to extend myself through this city in a way that I’m thankful for. While I tend to ‘label’ the ‘pockets of time’ in my life, I’ m trying not to ask this corner of the city for too much. To let it be what it has to be, for however short or long of a period this may be. In a way, this is allowing the city to reintroduce itself, both with the familiar and the foreign.

If I had to label right now I would only pick two letters.

Re-

Prefix. Begin again.

circles

“Nothing is a straight line

or even a labyrinth but a squirrelly maze

I trace and retrace almost every day

for whatever thoughts that might arrive

as I walk in circles,

truer circles described inside of circles, having learned

that I need to get lost, a parade of one,

to find my calling,

then lost again,

to find my own way home.”

Richard Cole, ” Walking in Circles”

I find a lot of comfort in these words, knowing that this labyrinth-like path is not out of the ordinary. I pretend this isn’t the case. I have crafted my reality into definable blocks, like we often do. These blocks become movements in which I sense that I am doing something, going somewhere, becoming someone. But there are lapses, pauses, breaks — that interrupt the fluidity that I so often crave.

I imagined this part of the labyrinth to flow smoother. I thought I had climbed past some walls already. I wish I could speed through this.

But I rake my fingers through the dark and green.

I can only walk slowly through this part.

spots of art:

Round and Round- Will Reagan

Metro Bilbao, Madrid
“Maravillas Acrósticas en el Jardín” Joan Miró, Galeria Fernández- Braso en frente de El Retiro

small thoughts on process.

A couple of summers ago, I tried reading the first Lord of the Rings (just to say that I have) and I cannot remember much because I stopped at like page 38. But I read enough to hear Bilbo, I think, say some words that few other statements have stayed with me for so long:

“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

The context refers to needing rest because of age, which I don’t relate to. But the first time I read this, my attention and energy were divided into so many different areas that I did, in fact, feel like butter spread too thin. This morning I re-met these words as I felt my mind dabble on so many different ideas and things to do. Ironically, while scraping butter over my toast.

If you know me, you know that right now is kind of a crazy time hehe. There is a lot of movement happening and I feel divided— I want so much of everything. Newness, adventure, risk. But I also want stability, calmness, quiet. There are some days that I thrive on jumping from one conversation to another, switching languages constantly or moving from one activity to the next. I am okay with living out of a suitcase and changing plans last minute. Sometimes I overbook but I many times enjoy the adrenaline that this gives me.

And then, there are some days that I crave a long stretch of stillness and solitude. A rainy morning in my attic or a quiet tea on my balcony. No phone, no interaction. I enjoy organizing as though I were to stay in a place for a while, and seek spaces where my mind can wander and rest. So when I have either and they don’t match up with my sense of self of the day, I throw myself into guilt and wonder: Am I really living my life well?

This can be pretty self-inflicting. I am good at listing all the things that I haven’t accomplished (day-to-day or in life). I moved back to Spain almost a year ago now. This year was supposed to be full of reflection and writing. A chance to meet myself again, as I reconstruct my ideas in my old language and culture. But I also started a masters program and a teaching internship, and a side-job at a cheerleading club. I found myself doing make up for a theater group or signing up for kickboxing, volunteering and hosting university students over the summer. I really wouldn’t change any of these things, because they have brought me a lot of joy and chances to meet incredible people. But, I haven’t had much time to write, nor to listen to my changing ideas. I have felt guilty about this, as though I am wasting my time and neglecting something that I think is important for me to do. Perhaps as I transition into a different season of life I will find more time to reflect. But I am learning that my guilty thoughts won’t get me anywhere and the process of getting to where I want to be will most likely always be different than what I imagined.

My dog Nalah teaches me a lot about life. Her favorite thing is when I let go of her leash so she can roll in the long, fresh grass. Her belly faces the sun and her tongue drops to the side. She fully enjoys the moment she is in, and then she gets up and starts walking again until we arrive home. I think this looks a lot like “process”. A stop, a jump. A roll, a walk. Like a march of stairs, perhaps some days upward and some days sideways, each step leading to something. It is a curvy path, but it contains patches tender enough to stand in. Places where I can lay and roll in the grass, my face towards the sun and my eyes open wide to what is happening. I honestly want to enjoy my moments like Nalah, as silly as that may sound. To move beyond time constraints or habits, stretch over expectations, self-given or outer-based. To allow myself to fail, even with an audience; and let people see the parts of me that have yet to be defined.

More than anything, I think it means accepting that, yes, I am like butter scraped over too much bread right now. Perhaps I need to change some things about how I am living my life. But this is who I am now: a bit of a lot of different things; bending over, shifting, and awkwardly dancing around. I’m not sure of much, but I’m sure of what’s important. I can let myself enjoy my thinly buttered toast.

in between

I’ve been wondering lately about the phrase “pocket of time”. It first came up in a book, and then in a conversation, and now I cannot seem to get it out of my head. I think it is like a splurge of minutes, days or years that seem to curve at a beginning and an end, without giving us much warning of when.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more pockets I’ve picked: an aloof moment of melancholy at the sight of a rain, a feeling of lightness throughout a good conversation, an arbitrary spot of inspiration. I’ve started picking the larger pockets, pinpointing where I moved and left, where I mentally gave and took back, where a hope grew and broke. And then, there are the more evident pockets of time: the best parts of my childhood, a rough patch in high school, the last months of college…

While I try to make sense of these moments, other pockets of time remain a mystery. A friend just got severely sick while another friend celebrated a job offer. Couples celebrated their anniversary while a sickening shooting took place. They’re overlapping pockets in my mind, though separate in life. I can try to make more sense of those, because I’m only a shadow of significance in them. But what about my own pockets of time that so confusingly overlap?

What do I say when I hold a gift on one hand and loss in the other? When a moment of nostalgia inadvertently lengthens its course? When life at this moment does not conform to what I’ve been told it should look like?

The more practice I get with picking these pockets of time, the more I want to extract the beginning traces so that I can better predict the end. If anything, maybe then I’ll be more prepared for disappointment, goodbyes, or whatever life decides to throw at me. But there are endings that I cannot understand, because they come too soon or not soon enough. And then there are beginnings which I wish for but of which I see no pocket, and beginnings to which I hope I won’t see an end. I guess that’s the confusing part. Though I try, I cannot contain or define these pockets of time. I cannot fully understand what is happening now and I cannot fully predict what will happen in the future. I can try to catch every beginning curve to prepare myself for an end, or I can learn to live and move and have my being– all in the in between.

my heart is red

My heart is red

over the grass that settles between my two homes and the blood on the streets.

My heart is red

over the thought of my friends and the walk through Main Street. I hear the laughter that rolls out of our lungs, a ballad that laces my mind with spring. I hear the violinist’s ode.  She plays, and our minds dance. A crowd of loners gather, we hold out our selves into the tiny circle: a mixture of stories and accents, held silent by her ode. The City leans in, and our skin drinks deep from the late winter breeze. We are pale and dark against the moonlight. Virginia continues to sing.

My heart is red

porque el aliento de mis calles es pasión y vivir, un juego de danza, alegría y sentir. Siento cada color de risa en el parque, las voces que rozan contra cada tipo de catedral. Sigo viviendo en un atardecer por la plaza, cogida de la mano de mis padres, pequeña ante la fuerza de la ciudad.  Recuerdo el guitarrista que cantaba, las palomas que volaban, el rozar de mis dedos contra la brisa penumbral. Así quedaste plasmada en mi mente. En las calles de Barcelona, viví tu magia, sentí tu fuerza.  No hay color que te miedo. Eres un mundo que deja entrar.

My heart is red

because I fall between two worlds and I hear the cry of each:

“Look at me, look at who I really am.”

¿Por qué seguimos con miedo? Where has our courage gone?

I hear the red of the streets, the red of my heart,

I hear the red of our banners, the red of the same song.

El dolor contínua, y las lágrimas caerán,

Pero nuestras tierras siguen en rojo,

mi corazón, igual.

 

 

 

 

 

different

Soft rays peek into the room, melting streaks of gold onto the wooden floor. Here, it is quiet, and it is safe. All the thoughts of yesterday and all the thoughts of tomorrow collide. Who I am, here and now, is different than who I was yesterday, though that girl often returns.

She steps in quietly like a thief, dragging a suitcase into my room. She unzips it open, talking about the things I want to forget, reminding me of the things I still don’t have.

At this point, I tend to shove her out. “I don’t need your ¿?, I have no more space for your thoughts.”

But today the light is lovely, and I’m too tired to tell her to go. “You may stay, if you want. The light is warm.”

So she unzips the little suitcase, right in the middle of my room. I let her sit, and I listen, watching her take out every ¿? and thought, setting each one on the golden floor. We sit in silence for some time, watching the light dance, talking about who we are. Soon, the rosy light fades into dusk, and she’s standing at the door.

“it is okay” I say, as she points at the empty suitcase.

“i am different now”