Gioel Gio

My never-previously-hand-washed white linen shirt

Juli mentioned something two days ago that stayed with me:

“I like to play when I feel I deserve it”.

I spent a couple of days asking myself whether I deserved it.  One voice inside replied: ‘what are the criteria to decide whether you deserve it?’. The thought of engaging with that question gave me nausea, irritation. But there was another voice inside. It wasn’t really a voice, it was a sort of hollow space with warmth inside, maybe a cave, that formed when I asked the question. Anyways, I decided I deserved it.

So, yesterday I called Nadia and declared I wanted to play before leaving for my trip.

I must have sounded pretty convincing because she told me to come today.

I reached El Juego walking, a half hopping/ half want-to-fly type of walk. I stayed with the sensation of having a nest of baby birds chipping in my stomach.


Secretly, I love waiting to play at el Juego. Well, I both hate it and I love it. I am still to find our whether this waiting around is part of the process for them, but I would not be surprised. It’s definitely part of mine.

When I know I am about to play, and I am waiting to start, everything goes slow motion. I experience a sense of urgency and my hearing becomes selective. I become incapable of small talking, and I am half scared someone will say something to shake me. I guess I am trying to stay focused, or maybe I am nervous: I ground solid in my current balance, so I can let myself fall out of it later. In any case, all my interactions seem to be hanging from a cord, and I become like an awkward dreamcatcher figuring out where to hang myself in the room.

This time I head to the hummock. There is a movement of cats and dogs playing under my butt which is really not helping with my ‘balancing’, but I can’t bother even with them. I can’t find the right tone of voice to get them to move.

Nadia calls me from the second floor, and I am relieved. This time the wait is particularly short.

Jena is joining the session, and I follow her to the kitchen. She pours coffee into two glasses and steers in the panela. In my world, this action happens in such slow motion that I have the time to wonder whether when things steer inside of me, they make the same bell-like sound. Something about that image is reassuring.


To frame the session, there is a dance. In this dance, Diego asks me many questions and I speak. a lot. Probably too much.

I want to speak with the same voice I speak to myself. I want to be simple and honest. Except that as I speak, I can’t avoid also listening to my own words.

I am only half-aware of what I am saying until I hear sounds coming out of my mouth and taking form. It does not come across as ‘simple’, and I’m not even convinced it’s honest.

This makes me feel upset like I can’t even validate my own words. I can’t even let them come out without judging them.

I feel so disturbed by my own rambling I’d rather someone slapped me in the face. So, when I get asked something that feels rough but catches me out of guard and makes me fall from this tower of bullshit that I so honestly tell myself, I feel relieved.

Our conversation goes through a couple of double flips that I could not replicate, and we decide I’ll do a regression on ‘recognition’. It feels right, and I put on one of those eye-masks they give out during flights.

Now it’s dark, and Jena walks me in through the breath until I appear somewhere inside of my inner word.


I’m deep in the journey now. In it, there are small moments in which I manage to check in with my body. In one of those moments, I become aware of the space between the mattress I’m lying on and the ground, one floor below. In one another, I’m conscious of my clothes. I am wearing this white linen shirt my mom gifted me with a spiel about having to hand wash it with care. It’s the first time I wear it, so the shirt does not say much about my capacity to keep the shirt white. It feels soft on my skin and somehow this morning I knew I wore it for a reason.

Hours into a regression I’m face-to-face with pretend purity, fake humbleness, hidden arrogance. I see my judgment over it, I see my desperate denial, but I am seeing it, I recognise it, and the shirt does the trick. It’s a show, it’s a mask. Under the never-previously-hand-washed white linen shirt, I see the spaciousness in which all the parts of me somehow coexist, despite my denial.

And its sight ping pongs me between tears and laughter. There is a sense of relief somewhere. I can see myself and, fuck,

how many times at night I have craved to be stripped away of this blanket so I could see the sky full of stars that has been hiding inside! There is a sense of shame, a tail of the me I tried so hard to be.

Next to the shame, in the same experience, mixes a growing awareness of the ridiculousness of my words. I perceive my own judgement of being ridiculous as an evolution of shame, a reaction to the cocktail of my becoming. I laugh and my body rolls over and, for a moment that exists outside of time, I am laughing with myself; it feels a loving teasing, a kind accompaniment.


I’ve pushed my arrogance inside and slammed the door so many times and it keeps pounding and sliding under the door. I have never given it permission. Never opened the door or invited it in for coffee. Mi fai fare brutte figure, arrogance. You make me look bad.

And I want to be good. Oh, fuck, how much I want to be good! So good I have no idea what to do when I do something that can hurt myself or others without defending, justifying, acting naive and swearing on my good intentions.

I feel shame, and I say it loud. Nadia says: ‘with us?’ and I interpret it as ‘u freaking kidding me? U can really do what u Want here. Nothing is ridiculous’.

And I feel entitled and brave for a second. I don’t want to be stuck here. I really don’t. I deserve to push through this bullshit. And I seem to still feel the cave with the little birds inside chipping.

So, swifts and turns, a few dark tunnels, and a small black hole later,

I experience telling off an old friend.

I smash two plates on the floor. Everything about it feels good: the cold, hard consistency of the ceramic, standing up, the contrast between the world I am in and the contour of the room I sense vaguely. This shattering of plates is complete release, it gives me pride.

Like in a dream, it all mixes up: the photo of the grandfather I never met in front of a cake, the image of a young man from another century that accompanied my journey, the dusty archive in which I found myself, images that belong to places I’ve never been. The voices of Nadia, Diego and Jena who manage to enter along and accompany me deep inside. My own self, speaking with a voice of unfiltered knowing.

I am not aware of what everything means. I am untying myself from tick, slimy webs I don’t remember weaving.

All I know is that I’m willing to move.