February 24, 2018

England - october

We have just come back from France, and we're tired. I hadn't realised, but since we left our ecuadorian home it has been almost a month of moving to a different place every week or less, and I'm tired. Finally we are back in London and finally there is stillness. We are here for three weeks and soon we'll be moving to our next home in Scotland. We find our rhythm. Saoirse sleeps well and we all wake up tangled in our bed around 8, then come down to the kitchen where L (Saoirse's grandma) prepares breakfast and offers tea. The forest opens just outside the house, and in the late afternoon light the leaves turn yellow and gold. At night we take long baths in our giant bathtub – Saoirse loves the water so much, moves around and then settles on my belly to nurse.

One evening, we walk through the forest and stop at a nearby pub, before going back home in the dark, the twigs crunching under our feet. The lights from cars pierce through the trees and the fog, a blue halo floating around us.

One morning we take Saoirse to get her first shots – I was never afraid of needles, but I just can't watch the one that goes through her leg. She cries and looks afraid, and I hold her close against my chest, cradling her head, and tell her it will all be okay. In the evening, she has a fever and I lie down next to her holding her hand. I watch her sleep wrapped in her blanket, and she looks so fragile and tiny. I realise what they mean by having a heart outside your body – her sickness is mine, and I wish I could take it away and protect her forever.

C turns 26. I made him a photo album filled with pictures of him and Saoirse in Ecuador, and wrote him a letter.

“Sometimes I want to promise you that the girl you fell for is still somewhere in there, hidden away – but maybe that's not true. I know there will be days where the mother eclipses the lover and days where I'm so tired I forget my name and everything that is me – but I want you to know that whoever I am at any given time, I'm always someone who loves you – someone who still can't believe how lucky she got. And on days when I'm not strong enough to love you, I will still honour and respect everything that you are – the lover, the father, the friend.”

Sometimes, I miss Ecuador. I miss the warm glow of the streets at nights and the fresh morning air in our garden. I miss the sound of the river and our lovely coffee spot. I miss having a place to ourselves. Everything is so different here, like I have to relearn the rituals and customs of living in Europe – always thinking about having money on your travel time, getting to the train station on time, having a phone that works. I meet with my friend in the center of London and I walk through the crowd on Oxford Street, feeling like I could disappear. But against my chest, there is a tiny girl sleeping soundly, and she is my anchor.

February 11, 2018

France, part II - Paris

Early morning
My evergrowing niece
Along the Canal
A floating bookshop
My loves, in a busy café with voices drowned by live jazz
The best secret japanese restaurant in Paris
My dreamy girl

February 02, 2018

Sling Diaries vol VII : On Transformation

This year I've been invited to be a writer in the Sling Diaries by Sakura Bloom. Every month, we'll share a fragment of our lives. This month's theme is Transformation.
You can find all the diaries here.

In the British Isles, they tell stories about a sea creature called a Selkie – a seal able to metamorphose into human form. If she wishes to marry and have children on land, she will come ashore and become a woman, but she will have to renounce her seal skin and hide it away.

I've shed my skin, too. The skin I was wearing when she started growing in my belly, a tiny seedling thriving on warmth and a secret dance of time, happening under the surface without me knowing or guiding it. Where my belly meets my hips, skin stretching thin onto angles like a canvas on a frame, now there is more skin, padded and soft and rounded, covering the bones. My breasts are tattooed in purple designs that look like the veins on a leaf, and they rise and fall throughout the day like a loaf of sourdough. My beautiful luxurious hair has been falling out by the handful. But this change isn't just skin deep.

One night she refuses to go to sleep. She wants to nurse, she wants me close, waking and wailing everytime I try to leave. Outside the storm is howling, rattling the windows. I lie down next to her, but I want to run. I want to stop being touched, stop lying there in the dark with a baby that needs me so much. It feels like I'm being suffocated, a white-hot rage expanding between my ribs and burning through my body, like a tiger pacing in a cage too small. Sleep takes her, finally. C is waiting for me in the kitchen, arms open, a sorry look on his face. I don't even look at him, I am so mad.

I want to break down in tears. I want him to know. Know that I am still growing into the skin of her mother. That there are still emotions I don't know how to name, spaces I don't know how to fill, and it feels like I am walking around half-empty, but with the heaviest burden on my shoulders. That it feels like dying – the rags of my former self falling off my body like snake-skin. That the girl he loved has shattered like a glass thrown on the floor, and I am desperately trying to hold on to a few pieces. Tonight, motherhood looks like a wildfire, a tsunami, a goddamn curse and the most beautiful dawn.

Some days I feel like a warrior, and some days I am the newborn. Vulnerable, raw skin to be made into a costume, walking on a tightrope. Learning, surrendering. Grieving. For the one I was before her. For the one I thought I would become. I thought than on the day of her birth, the new me would be here with open arms, waiting to take her place. But on that day no one came, or the day after. I was left without – a body melting for another, a mind paused at the threshold. Now it's weeks and weeks after, and I still look at a stranger in the mirror, sometimes catching the lightest glimpse of her – of me – the mother. I keep trusting that she is coming, even if somedays she doesn't get any closer. She might be slow, but she is arriving softly into her space, coming to hold my head high and unroll my spine, like an instrument waiting to be played.
In the morning the rage and the doubt and the tiredness are gone, and the storm outside too. My daughter wakes up and look at me, with eyes that are my eyes with her dad's bright blue still shining on the edge of her iris. She knows me, even when I don't. And so for now I will hold her, and trust that I am growing and evolving alongside her – that I must give birth to myself, too.