May 28, 2010

The Tiny Voice

She was filled with such hatred.

Early 40s, she wasn’t bad looking or out of shape, had a decent sense of fashion and fair skin. But that flimsy facade had been slowly chipped and cracked by years of accumulating the frustrations of life and the desolate cascade of her own choices.

She couldn’t ever figure out what she’d done wrong. She’d went to school, had gotten an education from a recognized institution, found an administrative job and worked her way up the corporate ladder from 8:00 to 5:00, steadily. She’d secured a husband from early on, an active promising young man fresh out of the Ivy League. She had two children, 11 and 13, a house, a dog, a car of her own. Pictures in her wallet.

So much comforting background noise, so much normality had to quiet down her inexplicable anxiety. That tiny, aggravating inner voice with its hundreds of impossible interrogations. This microscopic lingering feeling of unease that would surface even in the picture perfect moments of her life, slowly gnawing on the image of what she was supposed to be. That guilty annoyment she felt lurking under just about everything.

Every time, she’d suppress it. It was easy, at first. A little scoff, a condescending smirk at her own thoughts would suffice to wipe off the unease and replace it with the warmth of conformity. But it always came back. Always.

As time passed, it got increasingly difficult to silence the tiny voice. But she thought she had a lifelong bagful of tricks to avoid it. She was clever. She was rational. That awkward offshoot of her mind was nothing she couldn’t iron out. So over the years, she had her little shopping sprees, some secret dream projects she’d stir around, these shallow courses she took to avoid some of her home time and responsibilities and even a couple shameful binges when it got too bad. But it always came back. Always.

She’d be in the car taking her kids somewhere and cross a smiling girl on a scooter, hair in the wind. She’d be rushing to a meeting in her high heels and pass by a fountain with little splashy bathing birds. She’d be in the last train getting back home after a grueling day and sit in front of a cute couple on a first date. She’d get smiles she wouldn’t return. See posters of dancers and frown disapprovingly. Smell baking pastries and stress out about her waistline.

Caught in the oblivion of her self-control, she was slowly shutting off. She was drying out, like a lush green plant you’d forgotten to water. An old postcard of a place you don’t remember anymore.

And time was on the side of the tiny voice. With every frown and every denial, something wrinkled. Years of this treatment slowly turned her into a bitter, intolerant, brittle little person posing as a prosperous middle-aged superwoman. But her subtle tics, her nervous stride and that movement on her lower lip had started to transcend her carefully-composed image.

No more did she wear her clothes with elegance; she displayed them. She didn’t live among the people of the city; she forcefully tolerated their proximity. She didn’t smile; she contracted. She didn’t love or kiss; she’d get uncomfortably close for the shortest possible amount of time and swiftly draw back, feigning the sudden need to attend to something else. She didn’t eat; she counted calories. She didn’t discuss; she stated. She didn’t think; she judged. She didn’t live; she toiled.

But still, she was staying the course. For every consequential flaw she suffered, she avenged on the world around. She’d let her relationships starve a long time ago. She’d slowly surrounded herself with selfish, ironic, mean acquaintances she called friends. The extent of her material needs had risen to disproportionate heights. Every time she felt it legitimate, she acted unthankfully, because everything was owed to her. She was entitled. She’d even started getting an almost sexual pleasure in making random people, from her employees to the young man at the coffee shop, suffer her mood swings.

That’s how the bitter diva was living her life. On that very morning, a specifically awful one on her scale – sunny, warm, a couple days after the end of school, just when the first vacationers start getting into town – everything was adding up to her stress.

The noise of the cars on the street. That despicable woman in the train showing off her summer dress. These good-for-nothing slackers already lying down at the park when she was just starting her day. The stain she’d gotten from cleaning up the breakfast table. These 400$ shoes that slowly ripped her heels. This disgusting teenager with tattoos and piercings. That staring man on the sidewalk. The fact that she had to pick up both the kids later because of that idiotic golf lesson her husband is taking. That stupid crack on the sidewalk she just almost ruined her shoe in. That hair salon appointment they cancelled. They didn’t even get the color right the last time.

She didn’t care about the heavy traffic on the busy street corner. She just stood there, clenching her jaws, chewing on the string of frustrations rising from all around. Stomping nervously for the pedestrian light to turn on, clinging to her designer handbag, sighing out loud. She wouldn’t wait a micro-second more to cross the street, as soon as that goddamned light would ever start flashing. She’s a pedestrian. She had right-of-way. And she would claim it.

In an instant, the light turned on. She raised her hand straight against incoming traffic, like an officer would, and without ever looking, started to cross in the most self-assured stance she had ever mustered. It was a culminating point. An overwhelming sense of victory flooded inside her, invigorating, intoxicating. She was justified, and she was taking control.

Her second foot didn’t reach the ground. The desperate hurling, screeching truck smashed her off the pavement, sending her dislocated body flying like a ragdoll thrown by an angry, obnoxious kid.

Her breath left her first, then any physical feeling. She was almost surprised at the length of time she remained there, suspended. Quiet seconds were carrying her from the air to the ground. She hit it in slow motion, painlessly, still trying to gather enough presence to realize what had just happened while the screaming and the noises around faded away.

As she felt the life escaping her, at the last possible moment of truth, she turned inside to get something to cling on to. A place, a memory held dear over all that time. Something that would make sense out of all the hardships, the sacrifices, the unhappened. The beaming light of a final answer to a question she never asked.

She found nothing.

May 17, 2010

Perfect Time

It sits there in front of me, catching rays on a beautiful afternoon. Its deep body exploding with bursts of gold as the sun plays on its surface, projecting long blades of color along the white grainy surface of the patio table.

It is not an important day, but it is the perfect time. An afternoon standing still, a stolen moment populated only by faint city noises and the muffled sounds of children playing away in the distance.

What a striking contrast. The comforting warmth of the early summer sun radiating through an almost frozen surface. For no apparent reason, every second instant, some random mist on the surface gathers swiftly into a small droplet, just too heavy for the glass to hold. It inevitably drops, following an arbitrary path along the cold surface and down onto the table.

Atop of my miniature spectacle, a pool of white foam floats softly, undisturbed by the dripping droplets and dancing colors below. It’s sovereign. Immaculate white and light as a cloud, it quietly recesses along the glass surface, like my afternoon moment slowly evaporates away into early evening.

Unnoticeably, the sun reaches the threshold of a nearby building wall. As if trying to linger around for just an instant, it shines desperate smears of increasingly orange light onto the small terrasse. But it’s already too late.

As the sun dies away, my hand reaches for the cold glass. I dip my lips into the soft foam and let in a generous wave of the golden, fresh lager.

As it swirls down inside, it washes away my thirst, my worries and the last remnants of what I hope to be only one of many summer moments.

May 10, 2010

Smile to Me

Smile to me
Crossing the street
Just a quick look
A spark to light the day

Flirt with me
Little butterflying words
Innocent and sweet

Sing to me
Drops of honesty
Squeezed from your heart
Let down your guard
We’re safe here

Lie with me
Just hang close
Let your ideas fly around
We’ll change the world

Hug me
See how I hug back
Running random hands
Freeze a little moment
Out of time

Leave me, then
Turn around half way
And to make me believe
That I’ll see you again,

Smile to me.

May 1, 2010

One Last Run

We woke up early in Quepos, after a nice night of drinking beers and smoking cigars in the common area of a very nice hostel. Dogs sleeping at our feet, birds chirping in the trees. The sounds of Costa Rica are one of the things I´ve come to like the most.

The drive to the park is a quick one, for once. The town of Quepos and the surroundings are by far the most tourist-y area that I´ve seen. But it´s nice, in a Early-Days-Playa-Del-Carmen-Sorta way. Colourful little shops, bars, restaurants and hotels all over. And as soon as you start the climb up the hills leading to Manuel Antonio, you get a breathtaking view of the whole bay, with its long sandy beach and rocky islands. Gorgeous.

Kaya chose to go hiking, Vez and I headed for the beach. The day was beautiful and sunny. No sign of rain, for once. Fan. Tas. Tic. :)
We set our things by a big palm tree. Looking around, I was pleased to see mostly locals, people who´d come with their family to enjoy a day of rest at the beach. The place isn´t too crowdy either, which is a blessing.

After I triple-layered sunblock like a creampuff, I decided to go for a run in the sun. The sand is very even and clean, so it´s an ideal setting for a last barefoot run in Costa Rica. I ran the whole crescent under a blasting sun, among screaming little kids and people playing in the waves.
I quickly realized there was no way I could make this a long run, since the heat was so extreme. After about 45 minutes, I was drenched in sweat, huffing and puffing, smiling. There is something very special about being in a faraway country and doing something as casual as going for a run. I can´t make it poetic right now, but I know what I´m saying :)
The rest of the day was laziness, napping, moving our towels to follow the shade of the palm tree, and some more laziness. A perfect last day.
Kaya met us later on after probably walking every single trail in the park. The smile on her face spoke volumes about her day. She walked the forest among monkeys, sloths, beautiful birds, springs, wild beaches.
We spent some more time at the beach all together, then headed to town for a very good little tipical Tico lunch (beans, rice, veggies and your choice of fantastic fish, awesome meat, or anything else amazing the have as a choice) served by a very charming mama whose Spanish sounded to me like a mix of Ancient Chinese and... Martian.
We´ve now arrived to San Jose, in another very cool and equally cheap hostel. Vez and Kaya are waiting for me at the bar, and I can smell a golden, fresh glass of Imperial lager calling for me ;)
I´ll see you all in Montreal!
PS - Sorry for the bad layout, but I´m tired of fucking around with it and it just won´t do what I´m telling it to.