It feels simple enough to be here. I focus on my breathing. This circle is not for me. I arrived late, squished in, I’m a fly on the wall. Palms on my thighs, facing up. I close my eyes and breath. Open your eyes, you don’t want to seem awkward.
Eric rambles. Marius goes at him, his words are sharp, tough, everybody is silent. I can’t tell whether the density of the air actually increases. I see Lea moving her skirt. She seems nervous. She is about to…
She explodes. Eric that’s enough, you have taken enough attention. It’s my turn now. I’m leaving tomorrow and I want attention. It’s like with my little brother.
The attention is yours, says Marius.
I’m upset. I’m upset I lost my time. I’m upset I did not make the most of the time with my mother.
Seating next to her, Lea’s mother, Milagros, is beautiful. Her hair is silver, her eyes shining. She seems calm, radiant.
So what do you want to do now?
Time changes quality, now I see Lea and her mother staring at each other closely. I lose track of what they say, but something in me is opening up as a well. I catch myself from swallowing tears. First, they are just a few, I give myself permission. They stream down my cheeks and I feel open-hearted to them. It feels good.
What is it?
I imagine staring at my mom in her eyes in front of all the creatures of El Juego. That’s what I see. I see my mom.
Now it’s flooding. I’m keeping the tears quiet, but they spot me. Audrey gets up from the chair next to me and asks me to move closer. She asks Lea and her mom to look at me, and our eyes meet red. Lea seems surprised by my tears. She lifts up my glasses and I see blurry.
What do you want to tell her? Says Audrey. She is speaking to me and I’m ready, my words are ready as if they have been formed without the necessity of thought.
I look at Milagros firmly. I want to tell you that you never showed me your pain, you never showed me your vulnerable self. And now that I’m in pain I struggle to show you mine. I would want to, but I don’t know how. I’d want to, but I’m scared of your attempts to make it better. So when I hurt, I feel disconnected. And I think you do too.
I say this, or something like this, as she holds my hand and I cry. And she nods and she says. It’s true. What you say, it’s true.
I feel a sense of relief, almost pleasure. Audrey tells Lea’s mom to look at Alexa, she is sitting to her right, feeding Momo from her left breast. As I look at her, Alexa appears to me as a tribal, holy depiction of womanhood. There is the pain and love of a mother in her eyes. It is an accepting, deep gaze, an earthy presence.
Lea and Alexa look at each other. We are now out of our chairs, all on the floor. A dog seats next to me and puts pressure on my side. We are holding hands, the four of us, and in the intensity of the moment, I can’t help but think we must look like an epic painting that they did not manage to paint because of patriarchy. Women holding hands in tears, on the floor, healing womanhood. Lea’s mom is now being held by Alexa in a fetal position, I imagine my mom being held like that. I imagine letting myself being held like that by my mom and I permit more tears. They are warm, simple, they are valid, appropriate, welcomed. By me and for me.
We are now a bunch of women, hugging like monkeys, with a couple of dogs and many hands coming out of everywhere. It feels like a different womanhood. Kind, strong, post-scream. There is no rage, just a slow rocking, stroking, surrender.
Audrey starts playing and instrument that makes us dreamy and we stay there in a sort of meditative, warm knot until the blob dissolves and limbs pull out, and we hug each other, and there is no more circle, just an untangled knot and the smell of pasta coming out of the kitchen.