Nadia stops our discussion saying she knows what to propose. We are not even going in circles, Kirsten and I, we are going in a straight line to an undesired, known horizon. A place we have been many times. It feels like every word contributes to a fog that is now tick. There is nothing interesting to see.

Nadia goes: I feel strongly about this proposal. But u need to accept, and when they proposed it to me I did not, so I understand if u don’t. You need to do a slapping encuentro.

A meeting slapping each other?

Yes, you just keep slapping rhythmically, taking turns, and get all this anger out.

Kirsten nods. Her eyes look sad, but she is very trusting, as she is willing to do anything to get on the other side of the fog.

I feel terrified. I say I worry about my ear- what if I get slapped and I can’t hear on my good side anymore? One of my deepest fears. And as the fear sinks in I melt. I close my eyes, and i shrink, I’m 6 years old, at most.

I visualize my mother and my father, the sense of protection and love and I experience a mix vulnerability and tenderness I had forgotten. And I cry now getting back to that place. I have not felt so tiny in a while. And I let it come, cause crying feels good, it feels right. There is a pure lake in my chest and a river upstream to my eyes, a small waterfall. And it feels good to move the water, to wake up that lake.

And with my eyes closed, I get back to a scene buried in my memory. I am 6 or 7, and this girl from Naples moves to my neighbourhood. We meet on the street in front of my building and we talk about what we like to eat for breakfast. Cocopops. I think we both like cocopops and it feels like an incredible coincidence. We become friends quickly. I am captivated by her. She is blond with freckles and a badass. She is two years older than me and willing to venture where she has not permission to go. And my brother and I start hanging out with her, and we become a gang. Our first project involves digging a tunnel in this garden deep enough to reach another neighbourhood behind ours. The tunnel takes days but we have a vision: we would go to the other neighbourhood and ask people about their boyfriends and girlfriends, and match them, or something like that. A sort of cupido service. I don’t have permission to go, and I feel responsible for my brother who is two years younger, but we go. The tunnel is ready, and we go.

It is a great accomplishment. We meet this guy and ask him if he is in love, and he says yes, and we get him to tell us what is the name of the girl he likes, and we write her a letter, and we bring it to her mailbox. Wow. I had forgotten this story.

Elvira is her name, potentially my first girl crush. We make rose water, ride bikes, and walk way too far where my mom did not know where I am. And I am nervous about the boundaries she keeps inviting us to push. I am scared for Manu, and for myself. And then, there are these two street dogs that bark loud and I am terrified when she proposes we walk in front of them. I am really scared, and I cry and I do not know how to tell Elvira I do not want to do it, that I do not care about being cool.

And I share this story with Nadia and Kirsten in tears. And I’m just very little in this moment.

I go out of that relationship with the Elvira because we moved houses. It was both so sad and salvation for me.

I want to be the me that can transform a relationship that does not serve me. And Nadia said right now she is Elvira asking me to do something that I am scared to do. And all i see is my mom and my dad and I am ok with tears, I m little and I allow it.

I recompose, there is nothing else on the table and I want the fog to leave.

I seat in front of Kirsten and we measure the length of our arms and adjust so that our hands reach the cheek. And we agree she’d slap me on the right, and I will on the left.

And we start and it is slow initially and then rhythmically and at each slap, I am getting this little girl inside of me slapped so hard, and at every slap I give I realize how fearful I am to hurt. Nadia tells me to slap harder, Kirsten measures her slap to mine. I slap with eyes closed and i cry and Kirsten asks me to look at her in the eyes, and I try but this small kid is getting slapped and my anger does not show up at all. I am a crying baby at every slap that I receive and an exhausted desperate 31 year old in pain at every slap I give.

The slapping grows and I give and receive some stronger ones and it gets rhythmical and then it stops. Then Nadia asks me to take a step back. Kirsten’s father shows up. She is eyes closed, and Nadia facilitates this all conversation. Kirsten starts punching the pillow and her face deforms and she cries and cries and screams and I am there. Melting into our bed witnessing Kirsten scream at her father for every time he beat her, and for every time he beat her brother. And I’m seeing this kid that does not know how to engage with her father’s anger, who wants to protect her brother and does not know how. I see crushing on my heart all her pain, alive like my own, but hotter. And she punches and she screams and I witness with slow, warm tears which come from another lake, a smaller, more hidden one, more stagnant, that has not moved in a while.

Kirsten is speaking to her father and her mother and she beats them up.  Nadia asks her to ask her parents what they think about the conversation with me, and they say: look at the hypocrisy, u are doing to Ur partner what u tells us we should have not done. And Kirsten keeps talking to them and beating them up, until she burns them.

And now she speaks to me. And I am two meters inside the bed with my eyes closed and Nadia tells me to get up.

Kirsten tells me I have been more family to her than anybody else. And it sinks inside, and it feels warm and it burns somewhere. She gives me an apology, long and ritualistic and I lean my head forwards towards her. And she does the same.

And everything exists in another plane. It is not a dream, it is real. But the subconscious is invited in the room, and Kirsten, Nadia, and I are witnessing each other’s insides and it feels sharp, warm, and slimy, like cracking an egg in a hand and feeling the texture.

And I know we are a little bit freer, a little bit more whole, a little bit more intimate, a little bit less angry, a little bit more in love, and a whole lot softer.

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