A housewife

Let’s imagine her life. She has two teenaged daughters. They look like her and her husband. They have her lips and his eyes. Her mother is Srilankan. Her father is American. She grew up in London. At 25 years old, she met her husband. He was handsome. They got married a few years later. She got pregnant at 35 years old with the first child. Then the second one at 37 years old. She gave up her model career for him. She followed him to his country as his career was more important for him. She was happy being home and raising the kids. They spent their vacations in Australia, in India, in England. When the kids were small, they lived a happy bohemian life. They could travel around Asia by motorbike for months. They spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve in the mountains in Switzerland, in the village where her husband was born. Ten years ago, her husband got an important contract in Spain. They decided to move to Madrid. They bought together an old flat in the Old Town and he renovated it into a loft, keeping the structure of the flat but adding a few modern details for the kitchen. There were no separation between their bedroom and the bedrooms of the kids. They lived in an open space, husband, wife and daughters. Their kids could sleep and play wherever they wanted to in the flat.

Eventually her husband started to become well-known. He got more and more contracts. His design in architecture and ideas of keeping raw concrete material in construction were appreciated. He opened two more offices in two other cities in Europe and started to travel more. At the beginning he stayed two nights in a hotel where he first opened his office. After six months, he said he was tired of travelling back and forth too much and asked her if she would mind if he rented a room in one city where the second office is. She said that she would understand if he found it more convenient.

The next two years, he moved from the room to another studio in a nice house. Same city. He practically only came home to Spain on the weekends. She did some charity works, mostly unpaid. She took care of the kids alone during weekdays. The weekends when he was home, he was invited to work events and networking parties. She followed him everywhere they were invited. She dressed up for him. She did not feel particularly happy about it but she imagined that could help him to show an image of a happy couple. People seem to fancy about how beautiful and harmonious their life was. She could not do anything about it. People always seem to think or imagine something. Would anyone imagine her in the laundry room during the week, in the kitchen, cleaning the bathroom, ironing his shirts? Would anyone imagine how it could be to sleep alone four days a week, in the master bedroom designed by him? People could imagine their lives and love life and marriage life as a successful life. No one could imagine the loneliness and the resilience that she has accepted to live through these years.

Eventually, he moved from a studio to a bigger two bedrooms apartment. He built the building and kept for himself the flat. He always came back home. He was more and more tired. Ten more years passed by. They talked during dinners on the weekends. They went to events, still. They went on vacations where he had the construction sites. Their sex life was nothing special but hygienic.

Eventually, the arrangement suited them. Their feelings were fading away or were a pale memory of what they were before. But there were the two beautiful kids and there was the celebrity that kept them together. She imagined and knew that he had mistresses or lovers elsewhere. A divorce was out of the question. It would cost them a lot emotionnally to decide for a separation, even though it might have cost them more to stay together all these years.

She imagined her husband with other women in his room then in the studio then  in the big flat. What did they look like ? What were their professions? How old were they ? He chose them carefully enough. They would not bother her, or them, or her couple. They slept with him and left. He gave them nothing. He took from them nothing but their bodies. He gave her nothing either but took from her everything.

Why did she accept ? As a mother to her kids ? As a wife to her husband ? She knew there were other women. He tried to be discreet, not only to protect her, but also to preserve the marriage and the family. She never knew why he would do that ? Their marriage was not what it used ot be. There was nothing bohemian about their lives these last years. What kept them together in this loft built in concrete walls was merely the laughs of their kids. And the idea of being a family, in a traditional way, a husband, a wife, the kids, the father, the mother. What he did outside, in another country, in another flat, had nothing to do with her. Or it had everything to do with her but she preferred to ignore. All these women whose faces unknown to her. As long as she could not imagine them more than some vague associations of images and fantasies of her mind, she preferred to ignore their existence. That was how she opened the door every weekend and greeted him with a smile. A sad one. But enough to preserve a family.

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The young samurais

dream

“The answer is dreams. Dreaming on and on. Entering the world of dreams and never coming out. Living in dreams for the rest of time.” (Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami)

Someone says that dreams are not something we see while sleeping, dreams are something that keeps us awake.

My dreams are not the ones described by H. Murakami. I don’t enter the world of dreams and stay in there. I dream of concrete projects which give me energy to move.

Lately I see my life surrounded by people and children of different nations. I see myself with them sharing my books, my favorite movies and music. I see myself reading poems to kids in their language, I see myself teaching kids to write poems. I see myself sharing my love of movies to them. I would like to see them excel in Asian art martial. I will call them: “my junior samurais”. They will be dreamers like me.

This idea keeps me awake. I know I would get there to realize my dreams. I have the energy and the enthusiasm for that. At this point of my life, I have the feeling that it makes a lot of sense this precise dream of sharing.

Yesterday I realized that the love for him, though immense, is never enough to complete me. I need to love more than one person. I have the love for the whole earth and the need to spread it out.

Call it a dream or not. It makes sense to me.

I have the image of the young samurais in my head. Young heroes reading poems in laughs. Beautiful dreams make beautiful dreamers.

When? Where? How?

I will get there.

Poetry and Penitence

I attended today a panel on poetry reflecting on incarceration.

From inside the wall, convicts write poems to breathe, they write for oxygen. Some are twenty years old and had been sentencing for life or more than twenty years. Some will never get out. Here are the words of Ben, James and others. From outside the wall, I share their struggles and suffering. The followings are their words. I share them in freedom and hope. I feel like a duty to do so.

Regrets from James:

Hopes dwindle, dreams fade

Attitudes flare,

Pain inflicted, no one listens

Just icy stares.

No mercy, no forgiveness

No second chance, 

Walks alone, dials but no one’s home

A prisoner’s stance

If Shoes Can Feel Shame from Ben:

Often when we feel shame, up is the last place we want to look. My shoulders, they slump, tilting my head and my gaze locking on my shoes. I don’t know if a pair of shoes can feel shame, if so mine have bore the brunt of it. I fear one day I will be a hunchback…

Vulnerability from Ben:

My heart is not bitter

In fact it’s broken

But I know what it means to be a man

Gentleness, integrity and love

Quiet strength, a father a husband a friend

These things make me a man

And I am no longer afraid

He has teached me integrity

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” – Carl Jung

Yesterday I finished an article which is a contribution to a volume in honor of my Professor/mentor/boss on the occasion of his “official retirement”. I am a lucky person, I come across a professor who truly shapes my life. I have evolved and improved so much as a human being under his guidance. Truth is I have learned one thing with him: Integrity. More than honesty. A state of being whole, undiminished, entire.

I have the feeling that when we start to age (and even before, but in a much less determined way), what is important in relationships with people has more and more to do with goodness and integrity. I stay away from people I cannot trust. I avoid people who don’t have the capacity to be true. Even if each of us has our own path, and first we need to find for ourselves the trueness, without expecting anybody else to bring it on to us. Still, if we cross paths with certain people in our lives, isn’t better if they are also honest, true and good to us.

In Vietnamese, I remember when I was a kid there was a proverb: If you stay close to the light, after a while, you will shine. If you play with the ink, your hands will turn black.

Today I swear to myself, I would only be with people whose goodness and integrity would dazzle me, would rub off on me, sooner or later. And this, in any kind of relationships, from love to friendship. I would walk away from darkness, meanness. And all twisted minds.

My life at work is illuminated everyday by such a good and honest person, my Professor.

My sentimental life should be the same. From today.