Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta life. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta life. Mostrar todas las entradas

miércoles, 14 de marzo de 2018

La Vérriere

  The sound of a piano being played could be heard on the staircase that led to the each one of the seven floors that made up the building. In each floor, there were two doors: one for each apartment. Nevertheless, not all of the apartments in the Vérriere building were used as homes. Some of them were offices and others, like 7B in the upper most floor, had been in use for thirty years as a teaching hall of music. Some days you could hear a piano, some others a violin or even a flute.

 Below 7B lived an elderly couple, Ava and Michael. They had been living in Paris for almost seventy years, from the day they had visited as a recently married couple and had fallen in love almost instantly with the city. They loved the architecture and the vibrant artistic movements that you could see and feel all around. And the food, of course, was one of the big reasons for them to stay, as Michael had always wanted to become a professional pastry chef, and Paris was the perfect city to achieve that.

 They decided to move into the Vérriere less than a month after their marriage and announced their decision to family members and friends back home in England with a postcard of the city seen from the Eiffel Tower. Of course, everyone was surprised by their sudden decision. Yes, maybe Michael had always wanted to be a chef and he loved everything that had to do with pastries and bread, but they no one really thought he would follow the dream. And Ava… she was much too young.

 When they moved, Ava was seventeen years old and Michael was nineteen. They started working right away, Michael in a bakery and Ava in a bank. They didn’t ask for experience back then, just the language, which they had to learn bit by bit at nights. It was a hard life for a long time but they eventually moved up in their respective fields. Michael got enough money to enter school and become the chef he always wanted to be and Ava was able to be the accountant of a very prestigious chain of stores.

 Now, Ava and Michael are in their early eighties. They are still in love with each other and they rarely leave their apartment, for which they paid rent for many years but they were eventually able to buy it, as the owner had became a great friend of the both of them. They had two children; now living in the country they had both came from. Somehow, the love the couple had for the city had not being transmitted to their children. They rarely visited, the only foreign sound in the apartment coming from the music lessons above, which were an entertainment for them, more than a nuisance.

 In the middle of the building, in 4A, lived a young man that had recently moved from an eastern European country. It was almost a year ago that he had entered the building, only to check it out with a friend. But they hadn’t been looking for an apartment to live in. His friend ran a production company that produced pornographic content on the Internet and he was looking for a place that looked old and could be used to set various types of productions, somewhere versatile they could use.

 Both of them loved it but Karl, the boy with a thick accent, was truly enthralled with everything about the location. He liked every single little details like the door handles and the sink appliances, but he also loved the views from the windows and the fact that there were very well lit rooms and other one that seemed flooded with darkness. The high ceiling and beautiful wallpaper sold the deal for him. His friend, however, thought the place was a little pricey and that’s when Karl proposed a deal to him.

 Karl would give money to his friend, in order to cover the price of rent, but with the condition he would be able to live there, use it as his home. His friend was doubtful because he knew it could get annoying if someone lived there and a filming crew would suddenly need one of the rooms for a movie. But Karl assured him he was very used to the whole filming scene, being an actor himself, so he assured nothing would go wrong and no problems would show their ugly heads.

 Actually, he said that not being sure of anything, only knowing he just wanted to live there. But he eventually realized he had been correct: the place was not only perfect to live as it was huge and conveniently located, but it proved to be a great setting for lots of movies. Karl even participated in some of them. The incredible surprise was that the building was so sturdy, that people were not able to hear anything on the other floors. And the fact that there were offices around was even better for them.

 Eventually, Karl met a nice young man like himself during another location scouting. They talked and dated for several months until he asked him to move in with him. Karl’s friend eventually found other locations and he eventually stopped using the apartment in the Vérriere building for his films. The place turned into the home of Karl and his boyfriend, who would eventually become his husband. They made great friends in the building, including the elderly couple made by Ava and Michael but also the dozens of cats that Mrs. Laffite had taken in.

 She lived in the only apartment located on the ground floor. She was the person in charge of getting the building clean, on the outside and the inside. Mrs. Laffite was also the only person to have an actual garden in the building, complete with a small bench to sit down and several plants that made her home look like something of an anomaly for such a huge city. Nevertheless, she wasn’t the most sociable person ever, so most people didn’t even know about her beautiful apartment.

 Sometimes called Lala by other people living there, she had surrounded herself with dozens of cats. It was common to see her entering the building holding one or two cats on her hands, just as if she had came into the building with two bags of groceries or something. She always brought in new kitties, mostly strays that she found around the marketplace and other corners of the city she liked to walk around. Granted, she never went to far from the building and never spent more than two hours outside.

 The rest of the day was spent inside her house and sometimes standing in the frame of her door telling the cleaning lady how to do her job. There was always a different woman or man cleaning the place, as she grew impatient with them very fast. She never liked how they clean, how not thorough they were. She trembled when thinking about their homes, and how dust and dirt would be slowly accumulating in corners and under the furniture. Lala was a big germophobe, odd for such a cat lover.

 When someone talked to her, saying “Hi” or something, she always responded by nodding. If people started talking more, she continued answering with head movements and other gestures. It wasn’t that she couldn’t talk but she simply didn’t like to interact with people. And those who had been living there for a few months already knew how to handle her situation. And they didn’t mind and she didn’t really mind any of them, she didn’t really care too much to be very honest.

 Her happiest moment was being in her garden, tending to her plants. She would sing to them and that was the only time some of her tenants were able to hear actual words coming out of her mouth. Her voice was beautiful, soothing and simply magnificent.

 La Vérriere was a building filled with so many people from different backgrounds, doing different things and having different thoughts. It was pretty much as any other building in the world. A place where everything and nothing meets at the same time.

miércoles, 10 de enero de 2018

Sitting there

   Sitting there, with so many people worrying about their own business, was kind of soothing to me. It’s an awful thing to say, but I’d rather have that than a place where everyone is clearly waiting to hear what’s up with you. In other contexts, where nothing is really happening, every single ear in the vicinity would hear a bomb like that. There too but no one would really care because they are waiting themselves for some words they hope they might be hearing and other they don’t want to hear at all.

 I woke up very early that day and I have to say it was very strange to just stare at my own feet for several minutes, sitting on the edge of the bed, before I realized I wasn’t really doing anything and I needed to get going. I slowly dragged myself to the bathroom and had a shower, longer than those that I had daily. I wanted to make time feel longer, but when I put on my clothes and grabbed a glass of orange juice in the kitchen, I realized I hadn’t really spent much time and I would be getting early to work.

 It has to be said: I hate my job and the people I talk to in it. I hate my boss and the girl who’s supposed to greet people in the reception. I really hate them all. It’s not just that I don’t like them but I actually hate them, because they always seem to want more information about me than what they tell me about them. They clearly just want to gossip and my boss only wants me as a mule, as a beast to use for work and nothing else. I don’t thank him for this job at all, none of them.

  However, I need the money and no one else would hire me. So I go every single day to work, by bus, standing up and very rarely finding a seat before I reach my stop. That day I walked especially slowly in order to take my time to work. I managed to get there a little later than expected but still at least one hour before I was supposed to begin my work. I didn’t care. I turned on my computer as soon as I got in and started working right then, as I needed to make my lunchtime valuable.

 I was happy when my stomach started growling, towards the middle of the day. It meant I was hungry, of course, but also that I hadn’t been interrupted by anyone all morning. Not a single stupid question or a greeting that had no real intention of being kind. Nothing at all for almost five hours and that was simply the best time I had ever had in that place. I was able to reach some clients, fixing some documents I had to correct and even do a couple of things ahead of time to free my schedule even more. Other would not appreciate that but I didn’t really care.

 The moment people around me started talking louder and stood up to walk towards the elevators, I realized it was my time to run. I went down by foot, through the relative darkness of the stairs and I reached the main gate in a very short time. Luckily, the place I had to go to was nearby, only a couple of blocks away, so my time would be spent in the best way possible. My stomach growled the whole walk towards the clinic, but I ignored it by smiling at the beautiful weather.

 The sun was very high up in the sky and there were a couple of fluffy white clouds there but nothing to prevent the sun from reaching all the people below that wanted that beautiful day to last forever. I was a bit sad to get to the clinic, a place that should’ve been a lot less dark than it was, but I decided to just grab my number and sit down as I waited. The place was not a real hospital or something like that. It was more like a center to get help, something much more informal.

 That was a good thing because I had always hated the smell and the sounds of hospitals. They make my skin crawl. Maybe it’s because every time you’re in a hospital it’s because something wrong is happening with you or someone else. Not even the food is decent in a place like that. So I really don’t like those places. Burt that one was a lot warmer, both physically and in the décor. It wasn’t blue and white but orange and red and green and all sorts of other colors.

 Maybe that’s because people with children tend to go there. I saw at least three very young mothers with their babies, waiting for their turn to speak with a counselor. It has to be said there were not that many doctors there. People were not waiting to have a checkup or something like that. It was more of a social thing in general. I looked at those girls for a long time, and I realized many of them seemed ashamed to be there but they didn’t go anywhere until their names were called.

 I, on the other hand, was there for something between a medical procedure and a psychosocial thing. It’s hard to talk about it but at least I went there. The point of it all is I waited for about twenty minutes until a nurse, a very tall one, called my name and asked me to follow her. She asked me to wait in a very small room. She came back shortly with what she needed. A syringe and a small plastic bag. She asked for my arm and in seconds she extracted a whole syringe of blood from me. The nurse asked me to wait there, as someone would be with me shortly.

 Another woman came in and talked to me about all those things I knew about but I had ignored. She was very nice and kind and even tried to make me asked her questions. Just to be kind, I did ask a couple of things, of which I already knew the answer to. When I stepped out of the clinic, I still had a half an hour to have something to eat. Luckily, there was a fried chicken place in the way to work. I sat there and ate several pieces, with fries and a large soda. I was going to be late but I didn’t care at all.

 I sat on the restaurant’s terrace, where my face could feel the scorching rays of the sun. I didn’t mind at all. I was just so happy eating my chicken, getting all greasy and having such a blast eating and enjoying the sun. It was one of those short moments in life when you actually feel happy, truly happy. I did not feel my happiness then was artificial or the cause of something someone else had done. It was all about me and how good I felt for making a good decision and pairing it up with fried chicken.

 When I got to the office, the boss called me to his office to basically yell at me for being fifteen minutes late. Other people were still talking about the gossip they had heard at lunch, no one was really working, but I was the one being called to the boss’ office in order to be yelled at. I let him do that for a couple of minutes, not really paying attention, just nodding and saying, “yes” every so often. But then, he said something I cannot remember but that phrase somehow struck a chord deep inside me.

 I told him to "fuck off" and then went back to my desk. I did expect to be fired but nothing happened.  Actually, nothing has happened since then, almost two months ago. And now I’m in that waiting room again, waiting for them to tell me if there’s something wrong with me or not. I’m very nervous, of course, but somehow I feel as free as that day eating fried chicken. Because I defended myself once and I did something for me on the same day. I’m kind of proud of those things.

 The nurse calls my name. She’s the same very tall woman. She has such a kind and beautiful smile on her face. It’s so soothing to see someone greeting you like that. She asks me to follow her and we end up in a different room than the one the time before. She asks me to wait for the counselor.

 As I wait, I notice the pictures around the room. They are personal photos and items, collected through the counselor’s lifetime. She really does feel that place, that tiny office, to be her place. I hope I feel that way about a place too, someday. Or something else.

lunes, 25 de diciembre de 2017

One kind of Christmas

   Last Christmas, he came out of the bathroom disguised as Santa Claus. I laughed at first but then realized it was supposed to be a sexy thing between the two of us. He did a striptease for me and then began to pull some presents of a big red bag he had brought out of our bedroom with him. A couple were sex toys, intended for both of use whenever we wanted to spice things up in the bedroom, not that we ever needed that. But one of the gifts was something else, something I wasn’t expecting.

 It was a little red box with only a simple ring inside. It had a smooth surface, resembling a little donut made of silver. When I saw it closer the next day, I smiled thinking he had been a very smart man by buying the one that I liked and then he would keep the gold one. Each ring was unique, as according to them we were different and that made us a better couple, but inside each little piece of jewelry, there was the name of the other one, the other person forming the relationship.

 That way, he would always be close to me and I would always be close to him. I changed from been excited and, frankly, very horny, to being on the edge of my seat, crying in silence, as I had never thought such a gift would come my way. I mean, yes, we had talked about it before but it had never been serious at all. I had no stable job, living from one thing to the next and his salary was just enough to survive for a month. His bank account was always empty by the time he received his next paycheck.

So marriage or whatever one would call it, wasn’t precisely something we had been planning on. We didn’t even lived together, not exactly at least. He would spend a couple of weeks in my place and then I would spend some time in his place. He always left socks or underwear in my place, in my drawers and on the washing machine. And my favorite sweater always had a certain tendency to end up in his closet, although I was certain that had to do with him loving it as much as I did.

 We wore different sizes of clothing but we sometimes shared, especially in the morning when it was difficult to find what one had wore the night before. I had answered phone calls or the door many times wearing only one of his work shirts. He always told me not to do that because then he would need to either iron them or send them to the cleaners, and none was a choice he enjoyed. But then he gave me mixed signals when he had sex on the couch just because he had seen me wearing nothing but that. It was funny and exciting, two words that described what we had together.

 The reason why I didn’t accept his proposal right away was the fact that his company was sending him far away, to a symposium or something like that in a city with beaches and many beautiful people to watch. He tried to convince me to go and I needed no convincing at all, the problem was the money, as I had no savings to just take a short holiday. I had to look for work everyday and there was no option for me to stop doing that, unless I won the lottery or something as insane as that.

 So I asked him to give me some time to think about it, because he wasn’t going to be there for a while and I had to be sure I wanted to change our relationship in such a way. I made it very clear that I didn’t wanted to end the relationship and that my decision wasn’t motivated by me not loving him anymore or something of the sorts. It was exactly the opposite: I loved him so much that I really wanted to make the best choice for us both, as marrying would be a huge thing for the both of us.

 He left for his symposium the day after Christmas. We had been in bed for hours before that, making love but also kissing, holding each other and enjoying each other’s silence. I loved him deeply and wanted the best for him, I really did. And I knew he had asked me to marry him because he was in love with me and he wanted, in a way, to make sure what we had together was never going to change. It was understandable so that’s why we tried not to talk about it too much, until I told him one-way or the other.

 Oddly enough, I felt devastated when the taxi came and he left in it, smiling to me, trying to cheer me up. But it was right then when I realized my mind had been made up for a while. Who was I kidding? Yes, money and all that stuff is always a problem but, there are some things that you just have to do, no matter what and being sure to stay with the person that you love forever, is one of those things. So I went up the stairs, running to my apartment, and I wrote him I would be happy to marry him.

 He didn’t say a word to me until two hours later when he made a bunch of people on his plane dance and cheer because of our engagement. He told me he would have a glass of wine and celebrate in his hotel room jumping around. Sure enough, he did call me later that night, while I was getting to go to bed. He was so happy and looked even more beautiful than always. It was contagious to see him smile so much, asking all sorts of silly questions and wishing me to dream with angels and with him. And I did have a dream about him, a really good one.

 One week passed and we tried to write each other everyday but it was very difficult. His office had decided to stay a while there after the symposium, as their whole goal had been to open an office in that city. In order to do that, they proposed him a raise in exchange for more work and a lot of effort put into making the whole new office thing work. According to his estimates, which he told me half asleep, the whole thing would take at least a month, maybe even a little more.

 He tried to make smile after telling me the bad news but I just couldn’t. Deciding had seemed easy once I knew hat I felt but then I realized I actually needed him to be around in order for the whole thing to work. He had asked me to look at restaurants to reserve in order for us and our parents to celebrate after getting formally married, but it all seemed pointless with him so far away. Besides, he always looked too tired or too distracted to talk about anything related to the wedding. So why bother?

 Then, the unthinkable happened. As his stay on the beach city turned into its third week, I received a phone call that changed my life. A company had been looking for me because they had an interest in new talent to come work with them. Apparently, they had gotten a copy of my resume and that had been enough for them to call me and schedule an appointment. I was very nervous throughout the whole thing but the people seemed very nice and comprehensive of everything I told them.

 Strangely, the day he decided to call and tell me his office had asked him to stay there to head the new office, the people from the interview had called me to offer me a full-time job which paid more than I would ever imagine someone would pay to a creative person. I almost didn’t have the courage to tell him, but I did. We had to talk about it; we had to make a choice. Either he stayed in his old job, something that made him mad and depressed, or I would stay jobless for longer, maybe forever.

 We decided to think about it and talk another day. Three days passed until we got the chance to talk again. He had been busy and, frankly, me too. He told me he had decided to accept the job and I told him my first day was already scheduled.

 Nothing was heard in either end of the call, for a while. His face was grim and so was mine. We did not want to day what we knew had already happened, because it would mean it was a fact. We didn’t wanted to accept things had already changed, and that was too late for us.

viernes, 3 de noviembre de 2017

You simply cannot please everyone

   Suddenly, Maxine felt guilty of everything she had ever done and also guilty of things she couldn’t have possibly done. For a single moment, she felt responsible for everything and anything that had ever happened around her. Of course, she was just being silly but that tiny fraction of time sunk itself deep into her core. For days, she felt badly about it all and thinking about not being sad made her even sadder. That unease even translated itself into a powerful aching of the whole body.

 She curled up in bed and stayed there for a whole week, deciding not to go out for her own well being but also for the well being of others. She felt she needed to fix too many things about herself and it wasn’t a good idea to expose others to the mess that was happening inside of her. That guilt was much too powerful and it had taken hold of her. Yet, the only way to get it out was or her to be strong enough and really deal with it instead of trying to shield herself from further harm.

 Maxine felt she had alienated everyone and that it was her fault that all relationships she had with other people had failed miserably in a matter of months. She had been too busy doing her things, trying to stay alive in a world filled with barriers and traps. The woman had expected people to understand her, to get why she couldn’t go out anymore or talk to them as often as they once did. She forgot she had never been a very talkative person, not a really “in touch” friend.

And yet, they blamed her and her decisions for the destruction of their friendships. She was to blame for a lack of communications. When she had heard these accusations, which had come in the form of text messages in her phone, she realized she couldn’t possibly fight the allegations. How in the hell could she make any sense by writing on a cellphone? She couldn’t possibly defend her position and made herself be understood by typing on a machine, waiting for an answer.

 Max asked for all of them to meet, her closest friends and her, in order to sort things out and clear the air. But they all suddenly said they were much too busy for that to happen. Maybe in the future but not right away, not when it mattered and when she could make the most sense. She felt awful because they made her feel she was the one to blame and it was that moment that send her down a spiral of guilt and internal pain that she couldn’t really handle by herself. Or that’s what she had taught. Because that woman, and everyone, is stronger than they think.

 After that awful week, she realized she had to accept that changes happen in life, that she hadn’t done anything badly or said anything that would make anyone part ways with her. She had lived her life in the way she thought she had to in order to achieve what she wanted. It would be very unfair to judge her because of that, to make her the one to blame just because she had decided to take care of herself completely. Maybe it hadn’t been the best thing to do but it was her choice.

 They told her they were also very taken aback by her failures in life, that it was exhausting to hear her complain every time about things that were or were not happening in her life. They told her they were tired of trying to help and they had decided it was not worth it anymore. That was the knife in the back, a big and sharpened knife that they plunged deep into her, an attack that was decisive on how she decided to proceed days later. Every word was branded on her mind.

 It was true she was a failure. She had accepted that as a part of herself, of her personality and of everything that she seemed to be up to that point in her life. It was also true that, once or twice, she had asked for advice. It was only natural to do so with friends. However, it wasn’t true she had been begging for advice or help, as they made it seem. She had only reached out to them, worried that so much time had passed since their last conversation, seeking to rekindle the connection.

 Well, those words had been more that knife, more than any weapon. None of the arms created by mankind could ever hurt as much as those words had. Because they were not only hurtful but they were also mixed with lies and a clear objective to destroy, they had been prepared in advance in order to be ready for the moment she spoke about their clear shortcomings, the same ones she had but that she had been the only one to recognize. Modesty be damned, it was Maxine who spoke!

 It is revolting to think about it now. She had talked about them about talking and trying to get things straight. She still wants to do that and has tried to get it done but they won’t have time for her, not for now at least. She decided to let them live their lives, just as done before. She’ll probably be blamed for that too but she doesn’t care anymore because, for once, she knows she was in the right. She knows now, in this precise moment in time, that she has done everything possible without being a bother to herself or them. That’s as much as she can do right now and, to be fair, she couldn’t say if she would do more.

 That’s one group, the largest one. The others are the kind that just wants her close in case they want something from Max. Maybe they want her body or her connections or her talent for a while, possibly for free. They don’t talk often either and they always seem ashamed when she talks to them and wonders why they don’t talk more often. In that case, she’s not the one to blame, almost the opposite. And that’s not a great position either because they make her feel just as bad, one way or the other.

 This group is manageable and most of them are mostly honest about how their relationship works with Maxine. They both know who they are in those connections and it mostly goes fine, without any annoying moments. They just happen to be people that know each other and that play the game of knowing each other well and liking each other’s lives. It requires a bit of acting but, as it doesn’t really happen that often, it isn’t really a big deal. It’s just one of those human things.

 The last group, being the least crowded one, is the made up by real friends. People that just don’t care what about or when you talked to them. They always have time and words of support. They say the truth, which can sometimes be hard, but they do it because they know that might be the best way to keep a friendship in its best shape possible. They don’t really care what shape their connection takes, they just want to be close to their friends, to Maxine in this case.

 Anyway, people are people and things always find a way to work out eventually. Maxine soon learned that worrying about everything didn’t really help at all and that making all of that take a toll on her could only be harmful to herself and destroy her own life in the long run. Nothing is more important than taking care of yourself, so Maxine decided to do things in her life as she saw fit. If others agreed with her or not, that was their decision to make and she would have to accept changes.

 You simply cannot please everyone. That’s just not possible.