Unravel

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I was born in July and all my life, my birthdays have been in different cities/countries, with different people. The context of my life anyway changes dramatically from one year to the other.

I love it.

This year, my birthday consisted in two sleepless nights. Saturday night was warehouse partying: home made semi-failed mojitos (I am terrible at crushing ice) & home made candy kebabs*. It took me an hour to put all the damn gummy bears on the skewers. My flatmate had a suspicious look at my fabulous creations and said: “Happy 5th birthday!” I liked the joke but felt misunderstood, just like my spiced berry kirs were. It turned all good in the end. We laughed a lot, debated about prostitution and feminism, I won the blind test, and we have candy kebabs for the rest of the month.

I spent the actual day of my birthday in bed to recover from the craziness and from life in general. The following night was what I call impromptu awesomeness.

My cult camera operator friend H was in town from Los Angeles to shoot a film in East Sussex. She was in London for one night only before catching her plane back to America, and out of all the days which Universe could have picked for this magical catch up to happen, it actually chose my birthday. Our friendship is sewn with threads of that Impromptu Awesomeness.

I met her at sunset in the East London hipster hotel where she was staying with the director of the movie she’s working on. He’s a super cool guy from Oklahoma who makes marriage sound fun and who promised to put me in contact with an astrologer/wisdom teacher/feminist writer/lesbian-gone-straight-gone-lesbian-again badass woman in her 60s. I am thirsty for some spiritual witchcraft guidance since my witch grandmother Paulette passed away.

I found myself face to face with H around midnight. I hadn’t seen her since we went down the aisle together as a bridesmaids duo for ε’s wedding last October. She was holding me back because I was walking down the aisle too fast and we were trying hard not to laugh.

We went to the photo booth of the hotel lobby because it is a tradition in our group of friends to immortalise every time that at least two of us are in the same city. We are so geographically scattered that every encounter counts as History.

We went to her room which had a huge sofa, mountains of cushions and diverse props and gadgets. We giggled at the hispter cheesiness of the decor. She had to wake up at 6 to go to the airport so we decided to talk through the night.

She sat on the floor and started packing her luggage. She asked me how I was. But in her own way, really meaning it and expecting a proper answer free from bullshit. She was packing her underwear at the same time. She was rolling them instead of folding them, and I first got intrigued, then hypnotised by the speed of her gestures. I was watching the rolling choreography of her hands as she was unravelling me. As if she sensed that she had to create a diversion for my focus in order to make me shed my resistance.

I am not a girl who verbalises much ; which certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t express myself. I just have the hardest time articulating things in a face to face dialogue, although I paradoxically write letters where I strip naked to the core. I have no scruples either exposing the most intimate details of my life into nebulous virtual networks. (It is actually not paradoxal but coherent).

I am shameless in writing but I need serious trigger into speaking. H led me softly into it. When I answered her first question, everything else followed. I understood at that moment that she really understands and cares for me. She just knows.

Our conversation got so deep and intensely in the moment that I felt in ‘Thelma & Louise’ for a second. I don’t know why. There is a scene where the girls are already on the run from the police, and Louise has a now or never type of conversation with her boyfriend in an anonymous motel room. They are seating face to face. She rethinks her whole life and their relationship because they have only a few hours ahead before dawn is breaking. She senses that she may not see him again. It is an irrelevant comparison at the extent that H & I are not planning to jump into the Grand Canyon, but as we also had a countdown against dawn, we had an emergency to spit out the real stuff about ourselves.

It’s interesting what two girls coming across as strong and dominant but claiming their right to be vulnerable talk about when they are meeting. When I met H, I almost instantly related to her experience of the outside world, of how we are white canvases where most people project their believes of who they think we are ; because we are blonde and smooth at the surface. But we are fucking ambitious and have our very personal vision of the world on the inside. And we are dying to express it.

We fell asleep in the end, for an hour and a half. I helped her carry her sophisticated camera operator gear downstairs and I hugged her in the London rain of July. I said one of the coolest lines ever: “See you in Los Angeles!” I am going for her birthday in the fall. We visit each other in our natural habitats for our big day. How does that rate on the scale of fabulousness?

I fucking love that girl.

The title of this post is an obvious tribute to Björk – Unravel (cover by my dear friends So & Lo)

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Soaking With The Vikings

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Out of the blue, I brought my ass to Reykjavik last November for the Air Waves Festival to catch up with H, but as her fiancé cat fell sick, she cancelled and I had to improvise making friends every day.

It was my third visit to Mother Iceland in a year. I knew She would give me the hug I needed, and as usual it went far beyond my expectations.

Air Waves is gigs night and day in every single building of the Capital, bumping into the same people all the time although the population of Iceland probably triples over the week of the festival. Listening to awesome music, listening to awful music. Reading in the newspapers that Björk was in the crowd of that gig where you were too. Finding yourself in hot tub with the band that you saw playing the day before and not knowing how to tell them that you really thought they suck.

After a couple of days in town, I got the call for the wild.

I woke up super early to confront the natural elements with a bunch of Vikings I didn’t know: 3 Icelandic guides, 1 Icelandic singer, 9 Norwegian dudes and 1 Swedish girl.

We drove out of town and were thrown in the middle of the snow. White as far as you can see, but the colours of Iceland are way more vivid than on any other continent. The sky is more blue and the sun is brighter. Even the snow is more white. It is overwhelming for the senses and forces you to focus on the here & now. The sense of survival gets triggered every moment because you feel that Nature can take over you when She wants.

After an extreme walk (very well equipped of course, I was dressed like Jennifer Beals in Flash Dance and did the “What a Feeling” joke all along the way), we arrived at the ideal hot river spot. Getting in your bikini on the snow is not the easiest thing but I was excited like a kid and gave it a couple of snow cartwheels.

There I was, soaking in a circle of Vikings in burning water with flowing shots of vodka and beer and a private guitar player singing for us under an insolent sun.

For the first time of my life, I was feeling dark-skinned (or kinda orange). Vikings have a skin that you can almost see through and their blondeness is something else. It was cracking me up that the guys were finding me so exotic. I really was feeling like Marilyn in the cult scene of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, although I was the least blonde of the gang.

I walked all the way back tipsy, which made the landscape look even more breathtaking and I was focusing on the beating of my heart not to fall. Heartbeat & nature in sync. We stopped to look at weird natural phenomenons, like muddy holes in the earth with bubbles and weird gases. Typical Iceland wonders.

I worship Mother Iceland. She bombards you with violent sensations of aliveness with no mercy, and you don’t even have to hunt for it.

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Pictures taken and gracefully sent to me by one of the lovely Vikings, edited by my groundbreaking Photoshop skills