Paper Flowers

I walked past our street today and saw flowers blossoming on the walls of the building. Bright pink and blue colored flowers were there, like the ones you used to hang above our fireplace every spring morning. You would wake up overwhelmed and struggle to reach your armchair. But, you would ultimately sit down and then open your drawer, determined to get out the paper for the flowers. You would do that straight out of bed, even without drinking coffee. Later on, while holding a hot cup of coffee in your hands, you would admire your own dedication to your little ritual. ‘I am never patient enough to finish anything’ you would say. And I would agree, but I would also kindly remind you of the things you actually accomplish through the day. After getting the hard paper for the flowers, you would take the patterns of a lily and a chrysanthemum and you would carefully and meticulously create something beautiful with it. The flowers were dashing. So simple and so pretty.

The first time you made flowers, right after you came back from the hospital, you thought it was a silly, childish thing. But when you saw how much it helped you, you stopped degrading it. I loved it instantly. Seeing you having something that sparked joy in your yellowed eyes, was all I needed to start believing again. Believe that you would make it. After all those hospital visits and the masks on your face. The looks of pity you were receiving when you lost your hair, and that moment when the doctors said it will not be easy. You were strong and fierce for months, but after the last chemo, you almost gave up. Your eyesight was very damaged and you struggled even with the simple daily things. After a while, you became so tired that you couldn’t even move your hands. You wanted so badly to touch those bouquets next to your bedside table. The texture of flowers soothed you, you used to whisper at night. But that wasn’t enough, you wanted to really look at those flowers. That is when I started asking people to bring you vibrant colored ones. In that way you might enjoy them better, I thought. Later you told me how much it meant to you, to see those beautiful faded colors next to you. It was your everything when you felt you had nothing.

And now, here I am, looking at the real flowers bursting through our wall. It’s so weird. You always created paper flowers to remind you of those difficult times, and the same day you pass away, I see colorful flowers popping on the wall of our building. You would have loved that. You would have laughed so loud with this ironic beauty, the whole neighborhood would have come out to see what’s wrong. You would then smile at them, tell them it’s all good and we would slowly go back inside to finish our tea.

Photo: Kipos, Kozani, Greece. October 2018. Minolta Dynax 7000i, Earl Grey Lomography Film 100, 35mm film.

 

The month of September

The wind blows strong outside the window. Its voice is strong, and it brings hundreds of uninvited rain-drops to the window of the house. They make small tickling sounds, like mice walking in the attic. It is late evening, on a dreary Monday. Who would have thought that the wind can bring so much change? The streets are wet, and every tree trunk planted on the pavement gaps starts smelling cold. It is September. For a while now. I call it the transition month. The slow summer nights have come to an end. Drinking cold beer on the porch, while enjoying the neighbor’s loud music has also stopped. Digging the ground with bare hands is gone. The flowers too are bowing their heads towards the earth, they are succumbing. Soon, their last buds will start falling too. Like the leaves from the trees. Slowly but consistently. September is the transition month. And the month when drinking hot steaming tea makes sense again. The scented candles are out of the cabinets, the heater is on duty again and the days are slowly becoming darker. There is a steady rhythm in the autumnal ritual. Everything seems to diminish in size, to go back to the simpler and the essential. The colors of Nature acquire a golden aura, as the sun sets in the evening sky. Tones of brown and orange are spreading everywhere. The rain clouds have left, and the smell of the wet ground invades the house through the open window. It is chill in the house. I stand up and close the window, with slow calculated moves. I draw the curtains and stop to look outside. So many things are changing, but so many stay the same. It is September.

Photo: Bourtange Fortress in Southeast Groningen. November 2017. The Netherlands. Minolta dynax 7000i, Kodak Gold, ISO 200, 35mm film.

Five fears & five victories

the art of letting go

When life is unfolding in front of you, it looks fake, unreal, something far away from you, something you don’t control. When words coming out of your mouth, you feel surreal, numb, out of your body. All of this is not happening, this is not your story, not your life, it feels like it’s somebody else’s, like you are drifting in a dream, like you’re in a play that was never written for you. Your lines are somebody else’s, your fears, though, are real and tangible, so tangible your heart goes numb and so real as those bones of yours. But, as time passes, you realize an unrecognizable need to let go, let go of everything you were holding on. Let go of your defenses and fully surrender to that divine feeling of ultimate calmness, of pure numbness. And yes, it does feel like those pages of your life’s book are being slowly erased, those pages are becoming blank again. And fresh ink is being given to you. To define and write your story one more time.


 

that moment when you sleep

That moment when you sleep, but you are not fully asleep, that moment is when somehow, old memories crystallize. It is the only moment when you can relive and revisit old memories. They come back to life, they are vibrant, there standing in front of your eyes. And you are unable to resist them, because they just keep coming.


 

awareness

To what this awareness owes its presence? Inner natural sensitivity to the world’s vibrations. An imprint of people’s feelings, their old souls’ thoughts. I have no answer. Either will I ever find one. My life and the facts that led to it are random. Random and yet rare.


 

confronting

It’s tough to confront your life. To look at it with no fear. To stare at it and feel calm. All our past is written in our veins. All our memories engraved on our cells. Avoiding it can’t be a solution. By confronting it we surrender to our present and eventually our glorious future. We pick up the scattered pieces and begin to rebuild our broken image (of the self). Because we have the power. The power of the past, our own unique past, which without our lives is meaningless.


 

self-consciousness

Can people really see through me like I am a transparent glass? Can they detect or even feel the great sorrow? That awful feeling of self-consciousness is beyond overwhelming. Walking down the street seems endless and painful. Everything needs some extra attention. The eyes of the people are fixed on the skin. Exposed, alone. Those eyes burn the skin, they leave an imprint, a scar. It feels like a torture no one can escape from. A mind game orchestrated by the self, the wicked self.

 

Photos: Paris, France. March 2014. Canon EOS 1000D, Canon lens 35-80mm, edited via Lightroom with VscoCam.

 

A Late Night Story

The alarm didn’t go off and I am late. Really late. The suitcases are not ready at all and it is already 9 o’clock. No time for coffee or breakfast. Everything needs to be packed and off you go. “Get ready and go!” is the only thought buzzing in my head right now. But I am tired and drowsy. I can barely move. However, the bus is still traveling to Italy and I still need to pack for a wedding. Outside of the room I scream at my mother. Why is she here anyway? Isn’t she supposed to… “Your suitcase is ready, so are your papers and ticket” she says, standing at the door, obviously tired of me being late every single time. I sweetly thank her, grabbing my suitcase and running franticly towards the bus station.

The trip is scheduled to last more than 25 hours and I am not ready for that. In my pocket I hear the cash money getting intimate with my keys. Will that money be enough? Which keys am I carrying either way? Arriving at the bus station, I see a big line of people waiting to buy a ticket. I can hear my heart pumping in my head. This is not good. Maybe if I scream then everybody will freak out and make room for the crazy one to pass. This sounds like a great idea. But not today. I wait patiently till the moment I feel excruciating pain on my foot. A heavy guy has just stepped on me. This is going fantastic! An awkward, loud laugh comes out of my mouth. Silence. No one turns to look at me. That is weird. I silently cross my fingers for everything to turn out ok.

Suddenly I remember I haven’t bought any gifts. My best friend is getting married and me, an organization freak, have forgotten to buy a present. Great. I skip the line for the bus and run to the nearest patisserie. A nice fellow sitting behind the counter smiles at me, while packing a cake. There are still nice people on earth. While heading back to the bus line I realize I have actually forgotten my suitcase. How is this now possible? Didn’t I just have it with me? It is big, blue and noticeable. Is it stolen? Where is it? No, no it is still in the room, STILL IN THE ROOM. I look at the clock above the counter and realize I only have 10 minutes. How am I supposed to do so many things in such a short time? My mind is raving around the fact that this is not the first time I do this. How can I be so unprepared for such a big trip? My heartbeat has reached my mouth, my legs are shaking and my hands are freezing cold. I feel warm, burning tears coming out of my eyes. My biggest fear is coming true. My biggest fear is coming true. I put my cold hands towards my forehead and realize I am sweating. I feel like fainting. Everything is hazy and dark. No more ticket lines, clocks, suitcases or trips. The next thing I know I am laying on my bed, sweating heavily on my pillow.

I open my eyes and look outside the window. I am home in the Netherlands, having a nightmare. On my attempt to recover from this dream, I am trying to think really hard whether I have or not a trip planned. These recurrent nightmares had started the moment I left my country. Always with the same feeling of missing a plane, a bus, a trip. This fear of being late and missing a scheduled trip has become a serious reason for me to spent my nights struggling with my own thoughts. I soon recover and reassure myself that this happens because of my constant traveling between homes; the one I grew up in and the one I built here. I stand up, make coffee and gaze outside at the rainy weather when my phone rings. “Where are you?” a voice screams in my ear. “I am home, drinking some coffee. I had one of those nightmares again, it was so real!” I say laughing at my own fear. “Your plane is leaving in 30 minutes”, the voice responds worried and I realize my biggest fear has indeed come true.

(Photo: Abstract Light, Minolta dynax 7000i, Ilford 200, 35mm film, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, 2015.)

ΓΙΑ ΤΗΝ ΠΟΙΗΣΗ, ΤΙΣ ΛΕΞΕΙΣ, ΤΟΝ ΦΟΒΟ ΚΑΙ ΚΑΤΙ ΑΛΛΑ

Να γράψω, να γράψω. Για το τίποτα και για το τώρα. Για το μετά δε θα μιλήσω, το ζω τώρα δυνατά και δακρύβρεχτα. Σιωπή και ξερατό λέξεων παντού. Πού να μιλήσω στην Ποίηση, δεν έχει χρόνο για μένα. Με ξεχνά στα άδεια τετράδια και πολλές φορές με βρίζει. Με φτύνει στα μούτρα και εγώ προχωρώ, γυμνωμένη από λόγια μα γεμάτη συναισθήματα, πίσω στο παρελθόν. Τι θες από τη ζωή μου Ποίηση; Όταν μου δίνεις λόγια να γεύομαι, σε αποζητώ. Όταν μου φτύνεις λέξεις ξένες και κενές, ξεχνώ από πού ξεκίνησα.

Στο άπειρο και στην πατρίδα ξαναξεκινώ το ταξίδι μου. Με βρεμένο κεφάλι και πόνο στο στήθος βρίσκω την αληθινή μου φωνή. Της δίνω λόγο και ήθος, λίγη ντροπή από συνήθεια και ξεκινάμε μαζί κάτω από τα φεγγάρια που ξέχασα να σβήσω. Απαλύνω την αρρώστια του σώματος και τρεκλίζω στην αρρώστια του μυαλού. Το ‘καλά’ γίνεται ‘ίσως πόνος’ πιο γρήγορα απ’ όσο θα ήθελα.

Τρομάζω στην σκέψη που δεν μπορώ να αποφύγω και φοβάμαι. Φοβάμαι τις λέξεις εκείνες τις αληθινές, τις καινούργιες που φτιάχνονται από χώμα και ήλιο, εκείνες που λερώνουν τα τετράδια και γεμίζουν τον χώρο με φως. Φοβάμαι το βλέμμα εκείνο το πατρικό της άρνησης, της κοροϊδίας, του εξευτελισμού, της ντροπής.

Είναι δύσκολο να ζω με τον εαυτό μου, είναι δύσκολο να ακούω λόγια που δεν καταλαβαίνω τι σημαίνουν. Είναι δύσκολο να ορίζω την ζωή από απόσταση. Και όπως τρομάζω στην δυσκολία, έτσι τρομάζω και στις λέξεις, τις κενές, τις άδειες, τις κούφιες, που τα στόματα που τις ηχούν δεν ξέρουν τι σημαίνουν, δεν ξέρουν τι σημαίνουν, δεν ξέρουν τι σημαίνουν.

Και σκοτίζω τις γωνίες μου, τις εμμονικές μου λέξεις, συρρικνώνω τη μορφή μου και γίνομαι φως. Φως που απορροφά την αμφιβολία από τα πρόσωπά τους και αλητεύει τα βράδια. Φως που ξεχνά από πού ξεκίνησε. Φως που τρομάζει τις ψυχές τους, μα δημιουργεί κομμάτια του εαυτού μου. Δημιουργεί ακτίνες αγάπης και σπάει την ντροπή. Δημιουργεί θυμό και τον μεταμορφώνει.

Σκοτείνιασε και οι φωνές απ’ έξω μ’ ενοχλούν. Αγοράζω ησυχία, σαν γεμίσεις το στόμα σου με αιώνια σιωπή και σκασμό. Με τους γείτονες ποτέ δεν τα κατάφερα. Αμοιβαίος εκνευρισμός, αμοιβαίος συμβιβασμός. Σκασμός και πάμε παραπέρα.

(Photo: the Abstract Window, Minolta dynax 7000i, 35mm film, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, 2015.)

The Dance

They were there. Dancing in the cold streets of this big city. They were there, focused on their postures. Cold but together. They had dancing, the city, each other. Esther always liked Anna during their dance training in school. They were almost the same, in character and in appearance. Long, soft bodies with dark, long, black hair. The first time they met they were both fresh year students and quite scared of the other experienced ones. They thought they would fail from the first semester and soon they would be sent back to their homes. Places they hated and both promised to themselves never to return to. They both were not aware of how similar they were with each other.

One night, during their first semester, they met accidentally in the laundry room of their building, where both were going to wash their clothes. Oddly enough, none of them realized how close they were living to each other. They recognized each other’s faces immediately. They have seen each other in class before, right? Anna walked towards Esther in a slow and insecure way, but also with some excitement, determined to create something new. Yes, they both have spotted each other from the first days in school, but they never exchanged anything further than a usual greeting. However, both of them knew how they felt from the very first moment they laid eyes to each other. Strong, unidentified feelings. So, that night at the laundry, Anna took the big decision to talk to Esther. “Do not overthink about it girl, just do it”, she said to herself, as soon as she saw Esther entering the laundry room. “Hi, I am Anna. I think we are in the same classes in school”, said Anna quite determined. “Yes I know” replied Esther.

From that moment on they knew. They became inseparable. They were going everywhere together. Their souls unraveled and danced along without any interruptions. They spent hours talking and sharing, practicing their “secret” dance moves and exploring every possible new ones. They were so alike. How could that be? How could they miss each other for so long? The late nights they spent dancing and dancing all over again, combining their talents, would prove something more than they both have imagined. It would prove that they finally have made it. They both made it to the school’s finest of dancers and were offered by their department a full scholarship. Now they could conquer everything. Through their hard work the lives they were dreaming could finally become true.

Being popular was also achieved, almost overnight. They now had to prepare for the last show of the season, a duet with dancing parts of traditional ballet combined with modern pieces. People were talking about them. “The twins”, they would say and the girls wouldn’t bother. They were made for each other and yes they were looking almost exactly the same. In a period of only six months, those two lonely girls became from nobodies to someones, but together as a whole. Could it really be?

A phone call came late at night on a Friday. They were both tired from practicing and it was time to relax. But the call changed everything. It was a man from a Broadway theater. Broadway! He called Anna and asked for a meeting. Alone. He liked her temperament he said. Esther was too flat. When she heard it she protested. How could it be? She couldn’t go alone. What about Esther? They were a team, an inseparable duet. No way that would happen. Esther was devastated. All this hard work and now they want Anna alone? What was she doing wrong? Could it be that Anna was using her after all? That day in the laundry place, could it be that she was planning to use her in order to promote herself? Through their indisputable resemblance and common talent?

Doubt was planted now in Esther’s heart. What she shared with Anna was suddenly demolished. That phone call did change everything, especially for Esther. It opened her eyes. Yes. Blind all along. Stupid Esther. How could she fall for that? How could she be so ignorant? The next morning Anna tried to convince Esther that she knew nothing about it, but it was too late. The safety they built in each other’s company was now gone. But maybe it wasn’t safety at all and what Esther felt was all an illusion. But they still have to practice, added Anna, shaking Esther out of her thoughts. “So that is what she really cares after all”, thought Esther. The stupid dances and herself! Unbelievable. She didn’t even try harder.

But the decisions where already made. Ego appeared menacingly and was now threatening them roughly. They were blocking each other, they were killing each other. They both let doubt eat their beautiful companionship. Their egos grew enormously and they couldn’t think straight. Just a word could have saved everything. Just a smile or an apology could do so much. But no. Silence and dangerous thoughts overtook their hearts. All of this for nothing. All of this for the life they could actually share and now they are both throwing away. The ignorance of youth. How destructive.

(Photograph taken from Pinterest, 2014)

Surrealism

And there she was, standing there alone. Her almost expressionless face was always something challenging. But whatever you did, she would still sit there and remind you of her magnificence. Where all this pink liquid came from anyway? How did she become like this? The endless hand holding the cup and the unstoppable pinkish water coming out of it were since forever wonders to my eyes. I was, you see, just another viewer in this girl’s life.

It all begun when she was young. Her parents worked in the circus: her mother as the glamorous, talented acrobat who could seduce anyone with her amazing skills and her father as the animal whisperer who could make any wild lion or elephant obey his every move. You see, when Estella was young, that was this girl’s old name, her parents soon realized she didn’t actually have any particular talents. She would train on the acrobatic rope for hours, falling and standing up again and again. She wanted to be like her mother, beautiful, magnificent and gorgeous. But yet, she couldn’t. She forced her body and soul for years to something that was obvious not her destiny. Soon enough she discovered a great love of hers. Instead of actually trying to make all animals obey her, like her own father did for years, she was extremely talented in taking care of them. Feeding them every day, taking care of their small beds, their own space, making everything she could do in order for all the animals to be comfortable and healthy. And they loved her. Oh, they loved her so. They would travel all together, when there were no shows booked, and all the animals, wild or not, would make her life so meaningful and amazingly beautiful, she was convinced that the world consisted only of nice things.

But one day everything changed. One day her whole world would collapse under the pain of loss, death and loneliness. It begun as smoke. Her parents had this small caravan where they were living all together. She must have been around 7 or 8 years old. What appeared to be a daily task, soon proved to be something bigger. She was outside playing with some kittens when she saw the smoke. Since they didn’t really have many workers in the circus, nobody was there to warn her or her parents for the forthcoming destruction. Soon the fire spread, but Estella couldn’t realize that something was wrong. She thought her parents were experimenting with new tricks. But she was so wrong.

Hours after the accident, Estella woke up some meters away from the caravan, like something had pushed her away. Dizzy as she was, it was difficult to realize what had happened. When she stood up from the ground, she heard this annoying noise in her ears. All her body was shaking and she couldn’t really recognize where she was. Some minutes later she understood. She understood because she saw them. The two bodies of her parents were laying down in front of the caravan. Frustrated as she was, she wanted to scream but she realized no voice could come out of her. There was no sound she could make. Nothing. Her tears soaked the ground around her and covered the burnt bodies of her dear mother and father. She cried and cried for what felt like centuries. The animals around her starting making sounds and grieving with her. Some were hurt and some scared. But they all came in her weeping call and spread around her. Elephants and lions, monkeys and kittens, ducks and giraffes. The whole nature was crying along her side, reminding her that nothing is gone. Nothing is lost. That they are here for her and will for ever obey her.

She stood up and looked around. Her eyes were dry now and soon she felt something inside her. It was the power she was hiding and was waiting the proper time to emerge. It was this talent she thought she never had. The tears from the ground starting to change. They were moving backwards to the place they came from. Their color was becoming this soft pink and soon she was changing. She was transforming through grief to the fairy she was always destined to become. All those years she was thinking that she was useless and nothing could become of her. But now she knew. So did the animals around her. The liquid was emerging from the burnt ground and was becoming a small tornado surrounding her. It covered her whole body till they became one. This liquid mass was blending with her body, with her soul and mind. And now she would be unstoppable. A fairy, a goddess, a legend for thousands of years to come. She was no more Estella; she was The Essence.

Her story survived and she became the miracle of grief, the transformation of sadness. Every tortured soul would bow to her powers as she was presenting herself to them, teaching them how to be humans and how to accept their solitude and deep sadness. She would go around the world spreading the words of her soul, teaching, transforming people’s lives, but maintaining her modesty. People worshiped her, but she knew that every time she would prevail in one’s soul, she should retire back to her cave. That’s where she lived for years, till one day she met this one person to whom she decided to tell her story. He was a painter and a writer and he was fascinated by her presence. He wasn’t the only one of course, but this time she was fascinated by his presence too. They created a special bond and decided to spread her story everywhere, but only after her death. She didn’t care about material things. She didn’t want people to bow her unconditionally. She just wanted to show them how they can also be transformed, how they can also change their destiny and discover their true purpose through kindness and love.

So there I was, standing in front of this painting, watching at her surrealistic figures. The artist decided to depict this earthly goddess so effortlessly, I couldn’t stop thinking about her story and how people fail to believe in it. About how she would really look like, after that terrible accident, and how long she must have suffered after she lost everything. And how did she emerged as a fairy that everyone would honor till the end of time. Maybe it was indeed centuries till she rose from that ground. Maybe indeed all the animals stayed next to her, consoling her tormented soul till they also disappeared through time. We will never know. They only thing I know for sure is that this girl’s strength is the reason why I am here. You see, I am her one and only fleshy creation, the fruit of her love, the essence of her existence. I am her only child.

(Photograph taken from Pinterest, 2014)