The love of your life

The love of your life

By Veronica Orozco @verozco

Translated by Juliana Achury (Craftisan Translations LLC) juliana.achury@gmail.com

I saw him crossing the street. I saw him coming out of his door and coming to where I was. He was taller than I expected and his haircut wasn’t even trendy yet in Medellín. He was wearing a black t-shirt and a pair of black denims. He smelled nice. “He primped himself up for me,” I thought.

I didn’t have the time to make myself pretty. When I saw him, and smelled his cologne, he was all put together and it made me self-conscious about my half-painted fingernails and my unthreaded eyebrows. Today wasn’t the day we were supposed to meet in person. That day was two months ago but it didn’t happen. Today was just a normal day. Office, work, traffic, home. As always, I left my house at 7am, not imagining that at 2pm I would get a message saying: “I’m coming to Medellín and would like to say hello.”

When I got the message my first instinct was: “NO WAY! HOW COULD HE THINK THAT?! I’m horrible, I need a manicure after work, I came to the office with my comfortable-old-lady heels and, well, you just can’t give such short notice. Besides, he knew he was coming at least two days ago, and he could have told me then.” But, after a while, I thought, “Darling, shush. It’s not like he’s the love of your life.” So we agreed to meet at 6pm. I would pick him up after work and we’d grab a drink somewhere in the area.

I had never heard his voice nor shook his hand. Our friendship was based on text messages, Twitter mentions, DMs, inbox emails and every possible social media. “What if he has sweaty hands?” I thought. “What if he has a squeaky voice? Ha, ha. No way. What if he’s gay? You can expect anything from online friendships.”

He crossed the street and hopped into the car. Time didn’t stand still, nor there was a love song playing in the background like when Cupid shoots an arrow in the movies. Thankfully, this was not the right time for it anyway. Nuns in my school clearly stated that you meet the man of your life and marry him forever. And, even if I didn’t say it out loud and hid it behind my modern woman speech, the idea of having already used my only chance at eternal love haunted me on daily basis.

His conversation seemed shy compared to my non-stop mouthful of nervous words. It is amazing how much nonsense you can say per minute when you’re anxious. But after a while we settled into a comfortable state and our energies stabilized. We talked for hours, interrupted only by our own loud laughter.

It was so easy talking to him. Looking him in the eye gave me peace of mind. Making him laugh made me happy. Too bad time didn’t stand still, or a love song didn’t play, or I didn’t marry him on what the nuns said was my first and only chance at love. Too bad, otherwise there was a beautiful possibility that he was the love of my life. We talked about love and broken hearts, happy and miserable jobs, divorce traumas, dream travel destinations. Accompanied by cigarettes and wine, we talked about every possible subject without censorship. It’s so nice to finally meet you.

We went back to the car and I drove him back. While driving, we agreed on meeting again. “When you go to Miami, let me know. I’ll do the same if I come back.” He opened the door to step out and looked me in the eyes. We didn’t say a thing, just smiled. And then time did stand still. And Can’t Fight This Feeling by R.E.O Speedwagon started to play on the car radio.

yo

Here and now

Here and now

By Veronica Orozco @verozco

Translated by Juliana Achury (Craftisan Translations LLC) juliana.achury@gmail.com

A couple of days ago I got a beautiful email. It came from Laura, a new friend of mine who feels like life-long one. In it, she told me how brave she thought I was because of the decisions I had been taking lately; she also mentioned and that the song “Ir” (to go) by Marlango, attached to the email, reminded her of me.

As I enjoyed and felt proud of the song I had just been gifted I started to think: “Am I as brave as they are lately telling I am? And why brave?” I have always thought that the really brave are the ones facing super villains in epic battles, or those jumping from airplanes millions of feet up high, or the ones sleeping in haunted houses. People who fearlessly do amazing things and, to be sincere, my own reality can’t be more distant from than that.

But then, what it is that I do that makes me seem brave in the eyes of others? If none of my acts are supernatural or even complicated, but just the result of living the life I chose to live, why do I appear as brave? And then it hit me. Something really obvious that I had overlooked: when you listen to yourself and act accordingly to your feelings, everything you do looks less like an achievement and more like a natural act. I find no heroism in quitting my comfortable life for the sake of my happiness. But if I break down my actions into divorcing/quitting an unhappy job/ changing careers/and moving to another country, there I can see it all like a battle against ten super villains while jumping from an airplane inside a haunted house, even though the only thing I did was to start being the person I always wanted to be.

In the end, that’s the only courage we need, the one that makes us uncomfortable and pushes us to go in search of what we really want; the courage that forces us to stop delaying our happiness and shakes off the comfort out our lives. We live numb and in a lethargic state, forgetting that the only thing we really have is right now, and so we keep on looking outside the window, postponing the moment to be happy when the truth is that there is no “later”.

It shouldn’t be outstanding to see someone transform her life in the pursuit of happiness. It should be common. We spend our lives postponing the choices that will take us outside our comfort zone because that’s where we don’t have to make any efforts, taking solace in “I’ll try it tomorrow”. But you know what? There is no tomorrow. We have to be happy now so we can be happy forever.

Photo: http://nicoachury.tumblr.com/post/19780635510/tree
Lady in distress needs to be rescued by knight in a shining armor

Lady in distress needs to be rescued by knight in a shining armor

By Veronica Orozco @verozco

Translated by Juliana Achury (Craftisan Translations LLC) juliana.achury@gmail.com

I’m an independent woman and proud to be. Even if I like guys calling first, opening the car door for me and giving me their jackets when I’m cold, my feminist side took over my life since my divorce, and living alone has brought along some household tasks that used to be performed by the man of the house: clogged pipes, light bulb changes, broken door knobs, and bed and table assembling. I’ve done it all that by myself, with no Y-chromosomes to rely on.

However, even if I “freed” myself from male tyranny, I’ve never felt like such a lady in distress in need of a knight in a shining armor more than the first time I took my car to the mechanic.

In the past, I was never interested in anything else about my car but its appearance and the amount of gas in the tank. More than once my brain went Homer Simpson on me –projecting dancing, plus accordion playing cartoons from the 30s- while someone tried to explain me how a car engine works, or what happened when the bearings break. If the car made a strange sound I would pump up the volume. Oil always replaced itself on time, tires never got worn out, and the break’s tune-up or wheel alignment happened magically.

But I got divorced without considering such small details. And so the day when the car started behaving oddly arrived. All of a sudden it stopped responding as fast as it used to. It was always anxious, like it was pissed at me. Plus it started to smell weird, like burnt. So here I go, lady in distress without the knight in a shining armor, facing the dragon – the mechanic – by myself.

I’m sure lots of women were raised by their cautious fathers, dads who trained them in car mechanics, advanced soccer knowledge and hunting skills for both flying and creeping bugs. In my case, being the last of five siblings, with a father who is 50 years my senior, his only additional teaching efforts consisted in trying to make me love bullfighting the way he did –he took me when I was seven years old and I haven’t completely recovered from the experience but that’s another day’s entry – and singing the Milk Cow’s song – which now strikes me as contradictory to the bullfighting thing. In his repertoire of things to pass on to me there was never any bit on information that was about household things, because, once we no longer lived together, most likely I would have another man of the house to take care of them.

Entering the mechanic’s garage was like going to Menland. Absolute cliché. Hundreds of feet around you couldn’t see any women. Among the men in there, an intelligible gibberish is spoken – that’s where I learned the word “bearings” – shirts go untucked and are open all the way down to the belly button. I also saw some butt cracks. I saw all of it surrounded by cars broken apart, decorative engine grease and badly Darío Gómez’s music playing on the radio at a low volume.

Menland could be described as the Chavo’s neighborhood, but made out of mechanics. Several open mechanics garage’s doors face each other and a center yard, filled with car parts, is in the middle. There was no room for my car so I had to park it on the street and walk, carefully sliding my shoes through the greasy floor. As the unexpected visitor that I was, I got more looks than I’d have liked to and a compliment coming from an audacious guy embarrassed me. My quest ended at Freddy’s garage.

Fredy, the mechanic, my dragon, my nemesis, my nightmare, turned out to be as adorable as a basket full of Labrador puppies. A dark-skinned guy covered in grease, 5’11’’ of kindness, a huge smile and a heart as big as his belly. He listened patiently to the description of my car’s symptoms without a hint of laughter and he walked with me to it.

“That’s the clutch,” he said after taking a look at the car. “Happens to turbo engine cars; those 180 horse power make necessary to use the TCS –Traction Control System, as Google later explained – so the excessive torque is less hard on the wheels, shortening the life of the clutch.” “So, you mean the left foot pedal is broken”? I asked. “Exactly” tells me Fredy with a smile.

I said my goodbyes to Freddy while he told me the car it’s going to be ready the following day. I go across Menland to grab a cab, but I’m not embarrassed anymore. It’s a stupid step for humanity, a huge one for my independence. Once again I turned into my own knight in a shining armor.

Imagen: http://www.minifigurestore.com/heroic-knight/
Get back on the saddle, kid!

Get back on the saddle, kid!

Imagen: http://andthatswhyyouresingle.com/
Imagen: http://andthatswhyyouresingle.com/

By Veronica Orozco @verozco

Translated by Juliana Achury (Craftisan Translations LLC) juliana.achury@gmail.com

Even if you don’t believe it, and if the resemblance is not striking at first, divorced and sick people have a lot of things in common. We equally raise condescending and pitiful looks when entering a room full of acquaintances. We both have to tell the whole story over and over again, more times than we’d like to, and we are also victims of homemade remedies suggested by people who love us and want to make us feel better. They’ll do anything to get us back on our feet. But it is right there where divorced and sick part ways: while homemade cures for sickness range from exotic plant-based concoctions to colorful threads tied to limbs, remedies for divorce take more than a quick sip of the concoction – do not breath while swallowing please – and much more than the will to get better: YOUR WILL TO GET BACK ON THE SADDLE.

In a city, with a family, and with friends like mine, it’s very complex to explain that I’m not as sad as they believe. That, on the contrary, it’s been good learning experience to go grocery shopping just for myself, and that I couldn’t care less about my Whatsapp inactivity. But since “there’s no better remedy than company” and “you shouldn’t age alone,” is almost magical how it seems everyone has a “catch” to introduce me to, their ace under the sleeve: “Remember Memo Correa, my friend from college? Well, he’s been single since 1997, when you met him, and, I don’t know, wouldn’t it be nice if you guys went out and reconnect” – says a long time friend after just one sip of gin at a bar. “Honey, remember Martica Martinez’s son, the one that was suspected to be mentally challenged when you guys were little? Well, it turns out he wasn’t slow after all, he lived in Canada, just came back and he reads your tweets. Wouldn’t it be great if the two of you go out?” – is what I hear after a lunch with my family on a Sunday. Because another thing about divorced people is that, besides carrying the single label again, we also belong to the reduced and not very exclusive sub-group of the second-hand market. So we have no business dating Class A men – never-married, young, successful, philanthropic, dog-loving, Jared Leto lookalikes – instead, and as a punishment for our failed marriage, we have to settle for Class B men – other divorcees, male spinsters, medicated wackos, oedipians, closeted gays, and assholes. And then there’s also the Class C single men, but don’t make me go there.

Each guy is worse than the last one and, like in it the most absurd chick flick ever, where Drew Barrymore plays you, a chain reaction of disasters start to happen. Like the time I agreed to meet my friend’s cousin because we were all going out as a groups and I was told he was good looking, had long hair and a beard. He, indeed, had long hair and a beard – but in a Juan Tamariz kinda’ way –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Tamariz– and he was a parapsychologist, so he, throughout the entirety of the evening, whispered in my ear that he could feel my dead grandma’s presence at the bar. Or that time when I went on a blind date with the new guy at my friend’s office, who conveniently told me he forgot his wallet at home when the bill came. He also wanted to come up to my place after dinner. The next day, when I went to pick up my friend at his office to get some lunch, everyone knew about our date. Nonetheless, the guy came and asked for a hug which he finished saying a “shhh… you drained me.” Not to forget about F.W., who came to me at a bar, asked me for my number and talk to me on the chat, sent me text messages, called and voice noted me non-stop. A month later was when he posted on Instagram a picture of his newly born son. His wife was also in it. Just a few small details he forgot to tell me. That’s why the 15th of February will always be remembered as “That’s-not-my-child birthday plus how-to-block people on Whatsapp.”

No one should be forced to get back on the saddle, to date when not ready. Because, as with a bad horseback riding accident, either you get injured or leave traumatized, but for sure not willing to get back on the horse right away. It’s much more likely to get a Twitter Direct Message from the person that will bring back to life your will to face that horse.

Yeeeeee haaaaaa!

The five stages of grief in musical notes

The five stages of grief in musical notes

By Veronica Orozco @verozco

Translated by Juliana Achury (Craftisan Translations LLC) juliana.achury@gmail.com

When you are suffering from post breakup blues, you feel that there’s no cure for it and that what’s left to do is just to learn how to live with it. It is a sentimental cancer that, same as any terminal disease, ends with your life and the lives of people around you. That’s why there’s nothing better than facing it, than living each one of the stages that, even though seem like metastasis, are just part of the “treatment” needed for healing. You don’t have to experience them in any specific order and it is possible to come back to any of the phases many times (if you are thinking about the rage stage, then you are me).

DENIAL STAGE

“Nope, nope, this is not happening to us.”

He left. There aren’t traces of him in the house. There aren’t masculine outfits in the closet or shaving cream in the bathroom. However, our mind –apparently a hateful bitch – makes us believe that the noise we just heard is he hanging his keys near the door, or forces us to look for his cold feet in bed in the middle of the night. “This is not more than a fight, I know it, we have gone through this several times.”

RAGE STAGE

“I hate you, you selfish-unhappy-cheesy-miserable-impotent-fat-ass-stupid bastard.”

Ego vs. Ex. A fight that the poor guy has no way of winning. He doesn’t even know know he’s fighting it. A list of defects (real and invented) come up in conversations with people, even strangers: “So I mark the X here? Is just that my useless ex-husband couldn’t tell me where it goes,” we tell the bank clerk while she smiles, visibly uncomfortable. I hope he finds himself a fat, dumb, frigid mean girl. I hope he is very, very unhappy.

DENIAL STAGE

Should we have a coffee? I’ll bring you some of the things you left and we can chat for a while.”

P.S: “I’m missing you a lot…”

As if by magic, everything that made you leave his side disappears. You forget the bad times and the bland details and you are left, in capital and bold letters, with just the best memories. There are no defects, annoying habits or unbearable situations that refrain you from thinking about him in a way different than “I want you back.” He is, in your head, the wonderful guy you fell in love with. A DeLorean has never been so necessary. Give me this chance; let’s get back together.

DEPRESSION STAGE

The hole in my soul won’t allow me to get up from bed.”

Anxiety. Insomnia. A fight with your reflection on the mirror. Tasteless food. Crying. The damn crying about everything. The lack of a smile in your face, the apparition of everlasting bags under your eyes. Anguish, the one you feel gently stabbing your chest, like a heart attack, a grief that only goes away in the morning when you open your eyes and think of it as a bad dream. At this point, not even Friends make you laugh, and you are able to depress the undepressable: a golden retriever.

ACCEPTING STAGE

I like myself and I won’t pity myself.”

So any given morning, you open your eyes and there’s no more pain. The unbearable and tortuous part of our mind has been jailed and gagged; no more tormenting voices. The air feels nice in your lungs when breathing in. Food is tasty again. You go back to singing. When you think about him your chest doesn’t shrug. You let him go. And it is right there when we understand: it’s over. It’s over but it doesn’t matter anymore. And the will to live comes back, the will to fill up your head with new memories, the will to love yourself. Of starting over again. Of being happy again.

The House

The House

By Veronica Orozco @verozco

Translated by Juliana Achury (Craftisan Translations LLC) juliana.achury@gmail.com

(Background music: “For No One” – The Beatles)

Learning how to walk comes with the unavoidable consequence of bumping into everything. Painful bruises. Sometimes small, sometimes not so much. And when you add crying to the blow there is always an adult nearby that has the task to punish the cause of your pain. “Bad table! Don’t you hurt the girl!,” they say while spanking the corner of the innocent table while your eyes shine staring at the scene, the kind of glance you get when vengeance has taken place.

After spending our childhood believing in the diabolical thoughts of things that seemed like they wanted to hurt us, adulthood dehumanizes them and makes us understand that objects do not have nervous endings, nor do they get together to plan how to kill us. We understand that things are things and DO NOT HAVE FEELINGS. That’s the key part: they don’t feel.

So, why now, when saying goodbye to the house I built and shared for years with whom I thought was going to be my companion for the rest of my life do I feel like the house, like myself, is dying of sadness? Why do I feel that the walls look at me with outrage but also with some empathy? Why do I see doors and windows crying?

There are things that happen to others but not to you. There are people that seem to be in a perfect marriage, but then you found out that it was perfect just on the outside. But that wouldn’t happen to you. There are also couples that wed agreeing on kids and after a while one party breaks the deal and they separate. But those people are not in their rights minds, and obviously, that’s not my case.

It is terrifyingly enough to become the leading role in a tragedy that might seem likely to happen to M and P, but not to us, because those things happen to other people. Not to us. It is devastating to open one’s eyes one morning – inside of the house that you bought on the blueprint and witnessed being born, a house that has seen you sleep for over three years – and understand that it’s all over. Stare at half of an empty closet, the space left on the book shelves from what was some Legos and Star Wars ships and now has just books. It makes it harder to breath and makes you tear up.

This wasn’t supposed to happen to us. We had to live in 602 Forte Zúñiga until we could buy a bigger house; we kept throwing private parties of tequila and Kiss in hotels, we travel to different places on each one of our vacations; no one has a better time together than we do.

So, how is it that the perfect couple, the one that was best friends before dating and stood up to everyone who fought them when they decided to be together is now thinking about divorce? It doesn’t make sense. The recent marriage of L and L will end sooner than ours.

But, that’s not the case. Right now we are “the other people.” We are P and V, the cutest couple on Facebook, one that wasn’t that cute after all. We are the ones that have to say over and over again that we do not hate each other, that, on the contrary, we love each other so much that we had to let go of one another so we can each find what we aspire for and what makes us happy. We are the ones not living in the house we bought after just six months of dating because we also have to let this house go.

So today, when I say goodbye to the house we opened up together, to the house he left on December 1st –leaving his keys, with the storm trooper key holder, attached to the magnet in the hallway – I understand that we always were the people “to whom these type of things happen.” I see that the theory of “best friends before dating ensures an everlasting marriage” is not true for everyone; we are the example. We didn’t make it. And it is because of our great friendship and great love that we decided to spend our first December apart letting the other look for happiness. The happiness we weren’t giving to each other anymore.

I think, while I lie on the empty floor of what was our living room that this is how it was supposed to be. That our life together was temporary. That not even the blessing of the Peruvian priest on the altar of a chapel in Llanogrande – with Top Gun music on in the background plus 300 bottle rockets – wasn’t enough of a lucky charm to prevent us from taking different paths.

I am remembering, crying and standing in our white kitchen – now empty – the last Friday before he left this place. I remember being seated in a couch that is not here anymore, hugging, crying, and thanking each other. Asking for forgiveness. Forgiving.

And it was there, in the house. Our house. The house I’m leaving now as he already did, because I also need to leave this behind me. The prettiest five years of my life, the three most important years of my almost 33 years of age, living in the house we built together, in every way. A house that collects my tears for the last time. A house that is crying with me. Hugging me. Telling me that we will always be in here, in those white walls and woods staircases. A house that is us, the people who arrived wanting to spend the rest of our life together inside of the walls of what was a recently created home. Not us, the ones that are leaving spending the rest of our lives separated.

So I relive my childhood, when I was four, walking on my mom’s heels, tripping on a carpet, splitting my lip and crying uncontrollably. I feel hurt, sad, bruised, ashamed and very pissed. It seems that the house is the one hurting me right now. I cry relentlessly on top of a non-existent couple’s bedroom wood floor, and I say while I punch the wall, “Bad house! Don’t make the girl cry.”