El Dia De Los Muertos

IMG_5504IMG_5506 IMG_5515IMG_5546IMG_5570IMG_5563IMG_5565photo copy

There was a woman in the 5 Rhythms workshop in Philadelphia who told me her story at a Mexican restaurant one night. She had burned out because she had always been pushing herself too hard. When her nerves collapsed, she became so sensitive that she could walk around strangers and pick up fragments of their life, reading their aura. Simultaneously, some bruises started appearing on her body and she found out that she had been going for years with bone fractures she had never acknowledged.

If all my moral bruises were suddenly showing on the surface of my skin like her fractures, I would probably look like a Smurf. Maybe everyone is a Smurf on the inside from all the metaphorical bruises we get. Some people bruise more easily than some others, though.

I came back from America on Monday, replied to a house share advert on Tuesday, visited the place on Wednesday and moved in on Saturday. It was my dream home: big artist warehouse outside London, high ceiling, natural light, creative peeps, etc. My housing lucky star was finally back into action after months off. One of the flatmates told me that there used to be a brothel next door, and that he was meeting hookers on cigarette break in the corridors. I’d love to have hookers as neighbours. They don’t judge.

There was a Halloween party thrown by a street artist in the flat upstairs on the first night in my new home. I found myself with lots of strangers in fancy dress among which Hulk and Frida Kahlo.

I lent my maid of honour dress to a friend of my new flatmates who really wanted to be costumed as a girl. I love boys in dresses and I kept complimenting him about how he looked better in it than I did.

I was the first one to go to bed. At about 5am, I got woken up by someone shaking my leg. The dude in dress was standing at the foot of my bed. He was stuck in it and asked me for help to remove it, which I mechanically did because I always help. Once he was standing in knickers in my bedroom, he invited himself in my bed and his hand invited itself under my top before I even realised what was going on. When he got all over me, I raised my voice and I had to insist several times that I didn’t want him to touch me. He finally emptied the premises of my intimacy, leaving me in a weird state of mind.

I woke up disturbed and felt fucked up for a couple of days. Just as I was starting to find the affective sanity which had deserted my life for a consequent chunk of time, just as I was starting to pave the way to healthier relationships, a random asshole was ruining the faith that I had been struggling to build step by step.

I wasn’t only aching for myself but for womanhood as a whole. Many new questions were arising in my head. I was thinking of the number of stages to my legitimate space this guy had violated: my bedroom door, my sleep, my bed, my judgment, my clothes. I wanted to be in his head for each of them, just to get a sense of how people grant themselves a moral or physical right on others.

I was considering for the first time the actual meaning of rape, the ultimate stage, when someone gets inside your body against your will. I thought of the girls I know who have been sexually abused. I have never been afraid of rape, and I am not going to start after this. I don’t take inconsiderate risk, but I refuse to be run by fear and this will continue, because I think the threat of rape is one more way to control girls. Whether you are afraid or not, I realised how quickly and unexpectedly it can happen to anyone though: a drunken guy who thinks it is funny and that’s it.

This man wasn’t particularly bad, I believe. I don’t think he would have been physically violent. He apologized the day after, put it on account of alcohol. Oh yes. I get drunk too and I don’t pay midnight visits to strangers. I didn’t want to get overdramatic about it but I tried not to minimize it, and I said with a smile that he’d better not do that ever again.

I went to the local cemetery that day. I wanted to see trees, for they were the healthiest creatures in my immediate surroundings. I hanged out with the dead for a long time. At least, they had quit behaving like assholes a while ago. I went through contexts in which the boundaries of my intimacy had been crossed over the years, starting when I was 11, then 14, until now.

On the way back home, I entered the anglican church. There was an office in memory of the people who passed away over the last year. Some nice old ladies talked to me and I decided to stay to be physically surrounded by family-friendly vibes. I sang all the songs. There was a gathering with tea and cakes afterwards. I found myself in a circle of old lovely stereotypical Brits. I was glad I was wearing the pink angora cardigan which my aunt gave me, to blend in more. I was only trying to dissimulate the skull buttons which I had replaced the original ones with. People asked me who was the person I lost. They didn’t quite get what I was doing there, but I didn’t either so everyone was happy. I got a lot of attention from kind people and this is what I needed in that moment, along with kickassing pastries and Earl grey tea. I understand people who turn to church or traditions, because freedom (which implies loneliness) is terrifying.

Later that night, I told α my misadventure and my day randomly dedicated to the dead. She replied: “Haha. El dia de los muertos!”

Portraits of America #4: The Girl With A Thing For Napoleon

1393464_10151841635579934_15777619_n

This is my core friend α.

She is featured in many of my posts. She moved from Kansas City to New York four years ago, with the objective to stay for five years and reevaluate her love for the City then.

We’ve been on numerous adventures together and shared a considerable number of flats in various places. I legitimately thought I knew everything about her until the Napoleon breakout.

The conversation accidentally shifted to Napoleon at dinner tonight, and I described him as an imperialist dictator. α said that Napoleon was not French but Corsican, and that he managed to conquer the world despite his height. She has a “fascination by his brain, passion and physical body.” In her own words:  “I am intrigued by his obsession with Josephine, his complete narcissism, and his outfits. I also find him attractive in some of the paintings.”

She dressed as him for Halloween last year. She named herself “Napoleon Bones Apart” and added a collapsy skeleton part to her costume to justify the pun.

She piqued my curiosity. What was the reason behind that unusual passion?

α explained that it was a childhood thing. When she was a kid, her mother told her that one of her ancestors was serving in Napoleon’s army, or that he was close to Napoleon in some ways. The link is not clear.

Her child imagination made the shortcut to the belief that her ancestors were affiliated with Napoleon, and that she was therefore a descendant of Napoleon herself.

She used to walk around telling that story to whoever would listen because she was taking pride in having someone famous in her genetic background.

She grew up with that belief ingrained in her mental family constellation and developed a gentle obsession for him. Even as an adult.

That also makes me related to Napoleon in some way now. I am going to start walking around saying: “I am sharing a flat in Brooklyn with this descendant of Napoleon.”