our value

Christians have told me: I can’t imagine how do you go along through life without the support of God, without His comfort. What they don’t understand is that I find that comfort in our own human creation, in our art. And by art I don’t necessarily mean beautiful art. I mean those pieces that shock your world when you find them. I mean the things that fellow human beings created when they were feeling exactly the same as you do now. I mean the art humans use to communicate what they believe is important enough to be preserved, carefully transforming their insights into something on the outside, something tangible, observable, that can be understood. 

Different mediums affect me differently. Songs are powerful for me when they get attached to a moment, or a period in time. The music I love always brings me back to something. I’m a 17 years old kid dancing in London every time I hear Mr. Brightside.  The first man I really loved speaks to me through Silvio Rodriguez’s songs. Ben Howard and his Small Things take me back to that beach at night in San Sebastian, when I was afraid of coming back home. Don’t think twice, it’s alright it’s a plane to the unknown. Howling will always be you, driving me home while I was falling in love from the passenger seat. Ceremony reminds me that no matter how broken I feel I still should walk with my head high, as I did every day last winter—because there’s so much beauty in pain and we should honor that beauty.      

I read poetry when I feel delicate, when things are still so fresh that to try to explain them it’s not yet the point. I see poetry exactly like that, a photograph of a feeling. My favorite poems are those that when you read them, you don’t think. It’s not your analyzing brain what gets activated. It’s your gut, your heart, your fingertips. It’s your skin. When you read that kind of poem, you straight feel what the author was feeling, a feeling in real-time. Nothing leaves you emptier than an artificial poem and nothing shocks you more than an honest one. Those ones, they are scary to write. I only write poetry when the only thing I can do is to write poetry. And I do it mediocrely; but how lucky we are to live among people that are brilliant at it.    

I could fill many pages trying to explain what literature means to me. I think the only reason why I like writing is because I feel I should give back to the source that has defined me. I must do something in return, right? For those endless hours of my childhood reading in the street, at home, in beaches, in bed, in cars, at school, at the dinner table. I must do something in gratitude for the days I could stop being a teenager for a while, as I had books where I could hide; I must thank the fantasy that welcomed me during those lonely breaks, when I traveled to many places and lived many lives.

Books continue to teach me everything. It was Joan Marsé who showed me that what makes love beautiful it’s not a happy ending. It was through the eyes of two Jacks, Kerouak and London, how I understood that to be passionately alive is not to be content, comfortable in the light-weight happiness our society cherishes. Through the Russian classics I learned not to force life to be simple. Kundera told me about the dangers of judgement; Bukowsky showed me a Los Angeles I wanted to see; I never understood sensuality until I read Vargas Llosa talking about Egon Schiele; I’ve never met anybody smarter than Joan Didion. I’ve never liked anybody more than I like Holden Caulfield.

Books also inspire me to open up. That’s what they did, the authors whose work saved my life many times. They decided to show the world the best they had, knowing that for many it’d mean nothing but that perhaps, for some it’d mean everything. That bravery inspires me every time I feel small.  

It’s this exchange what makes me feel connected to humanity. Is this exchange what makes me feel calm, as I discover that what I experience is never original. Is this exchange what brings me hope, because it makes me remember our value. Human talent inspires me not only to cultivate my own but to respect people as they are: children of awe and curiosity, always ready to find what in this world it’s worth of our devotion. I guess that’s what God does to people. That’s what it does to me.

pacific coast highway

I see why every artist talks about love almost exclusively. It consumes you: the intensity, the confusion of it. Perhaps we think everything is about love when it’s not; perhaps it’s all about ourselves and our inability to be happy. 

There’s something about it, though. When you are in that moment, constrained by the knot in our belly that impedes you to fully breathe or fully eat or fully think, you are powered by a special kind of force; i’m talking about that moment when you know it would be useless to try to focus on anything else—so you jump into the car, and drive. 

Everybody has a road for those occasions. You are not sure where you’re going, but you always end up in the same place. And the more you drive, the more you become aware of the strange beauty of the situation, of the dramatic power of what you’re doing. It’s the beauty of feeling deeply. Of being fully alive.  

For me, the road is PCH. It is a famous road, special for many people. It is special for me because of how I felt the first time I took it, from the back seat on an Uber on my second day in Los Angeles. I wanted to see the highway that follows the Pacific, jammed with traffic; I wanted to see the models in convertibles and the tourists in white jeeps and the guys in black corvettes trying desperately to drive fast; I wanted to see the houses on the beach and the old surfers and the fancy cocktail bars. I wanted to see the sun setting behind the mountains. 

I saw it all. And what I mean is that I saw it all exactly as I imagined it. Few pleasures can compare, for a romantic mind like mine, to that: to love an idea, and to be able to live it. 

So when I feel that internal itchiness that makes it impossible to be anywhere but somewhere special, I take the one—from Santa Monica, direction North. 

All I find there reminds me of the sweet naivete of the world. That mix between nice and ugly, the charming decadence; the rich teenagers, the funky things; the families so perfect under the sun, like out of a magazine; the outliers; the surfers resting on the flat silver ocean in the afternoon sun. It’s a famous road, and I know many people are driving it the same way I’m doing it: music on, windows down, alone. I know they, like me, like it because of the symbolic power of the road. Because of what it means to us. 

There’s objective beauty in the place, too. The beaches, the light. The mansions far into the hills. The flowers that in spring fill those hills with colors. The vans from the sixties. Los Angeles in the foggy background. 

But that’s not why we are here, all the people driving alone with the music on and the windows down. We are here because we still believe in the movies of our childhood. Because we still believe in the meaning of certain things. We have that silliness in common, all of us, and while driving this road, it doesn’t feel as silly, after all.  So when the disappointment of the real-world hits, here is where we come. Where we can still dream of golden sunsets. 

2:12 am

i can’t name it
that pressure
in my chest

am i happy?
is
this it?

what a strange thing
to lay down here
reminding how it felt
to be happy before

before
when i was sure of it all
when i was wrong on many things

when i was young

when i was happy
and i knew it

on home

I’ve never felt really attached to anywhere. I struggle with defining what my home is. Now that I live in the United States, people assume that when I say home I mean Spain, and I don’t correct them. Perhaps they are right. Nonetheless, I feel that I’m always lying, no matter what I say, when I talk about home.

When we call a place home, we assume we’re not talking about where we live. There is a connotation to that word, a heavy meaning. The idea of home implies many things that have nothing to do with any physical space; it comes with a sense of belonging to that place in particular, with a recognition of yourself as a part of that environment. Home means you stay linked to that place, no matter where you are. Home is a place that has seen you, in one way or another, grow. Home holds your secrets. Home welcomes you back, no matter what.

I’ve grown in many places and I’ve hidden many secrets, but I don’t have a place that welcomes me back. It’s natural, as I’ve never been fully committed to anywhere. I’ve never let myself build that link. I still don’t. I’m the observer, and I’ve always been. 

My story with the places I’ve lived in is very similar to my story with the people I’ve loved. I give it all to the story, and when it’s over, I move on. Said like that, it seems like a questionable philosophy. And perhaps it is questionable, but it is not really a philosophy: it’s a description of how my circumstances determine what interests me, and how what interests me tends to determine what my life is about. When the road I’m sharing with someone else ends, I naturally find another road. When I feel I’ve understood the mysteries of a place, the attachment I feel to that place starts to vanish.  

The thing with home is that you cannot leave it, though. The symbolism of home resides in a place that holds you. Home is the refuge for that virtual part of yourself that never changes, and that never will. 

The days I feel good about myself, I like to picture my inability of staying attached to my past as a result of my natural tendency of being present. I’m passionate, after all; to me, the future is too exciting and the present too interesting, but the past offers me little. Past people, past places. I’ve been there before, I tend to think: my urge for discovery pushes me forward.

That’s part of the truth, of course. But I wonder how much of it has nothing to do with passion and everything to do with fear. With the fear of being understood but unaccepted, or never understood at all. Most days, this is the story that resonates.

In any case, me and my past don’t go along well. I behave badly when I think about it. The past is always melancholic, and I am not good at escaping melancholy: it’s an emotion that sinks me in. But the past tells me who I am, after all. What I’ve already lived, the people I’ve already loved, the places that meant so much to me and now mean very little—I’ll still find something new in those memories, if I don’t let their meaning fade. 

I guess that’s why home is so powerful: a place that never fades, a vessel for your whole story, sometimes cruel, sometimes kind, but above all, comforting—because it holds your sense of self. That sense of self that seems to vanish through the years. Through the changes. A sense of self that is certainly gone for me.

I wonder if I’ll ever do it, saving all of me in only one spot. I still distribute them, the pieces that make myself me: some here, some there. It feels good to know that it will be difficult for anyone to get the whole picture. But sometimes, I crave home. The ruthless acceptance of home. That safety. 

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a story

there was a time when
i saw myself
from the outside

the world i once loved
was far
inaccessible

you said
do what makes you burn
so i wrote

and i felt it

the slight touch on my skin
of the evening sun

the fresh air
on an early morning

i kept writing

i’ve been writing 
ever since

a question

i’ve heard that love is selfless. what if i told you i love you selfishly?

i don’t love you for the pleasure you give me. i’m sorry, honey: i don’t love you for the joy you bring me. i don’t love you for the struggle (who does it really?), and i certainly don’t love you because you need me.

what if i told you that i love you because i’m curious? because you represent both a mystery and a life experience, and i want these two things?

what if i love you because our story is not complete, and a good story is something i can’t resist?

don’t judge me, my love. it’s the unknown about us what captivates me.

we’ll learn to love the dance

I think about our culture, about our collective struggles. I think about myself, and my discomfort. It seems we’ve become numb. Disoriented. I think it’s weird, for all of us: to not know which steps to follow.

We are all different; that makes us uncomfortable. We are conditioned to behave equally—and yet we all perceive that there is no consensus: each one of us has a different (sometimes very different) experience of life. There’s a great mystery comes with this fact. We try to ignore it. We’ve been taught to eliminate that discomfort by doing what our culture always does: by simplifying the complex. But that doesn’t quite make it, does it?

We, intuitively, witness the mystery of our individuality. At the same time, everything —including ourselves push to keep us uniform. We suffer.

In an attempt to skip the search we all should go through but we’re afraid of, we are given now detailed instructions on how to live. We try to eliminate the uncertainty this way. (And we use these rules to judge others too, because it feels good; it reinforces our own—lack of—choices.)

We’ve been trying to stick to black and white, ignoring the grayscale. We’ve been limiting, distilling, making it graspable. We’ve been trying to kill all the questions that will never have an answer, but there’s value in those questions: it is part of our human essence to wander. Our consciousness craves these questions. It misses them.  

I have no solutions, but in this crossroads, two possible routes come to my mind.

The first one is to participate: we follow the rulebook, we achieve.

But I believe one day, despite having followed the road to promise land, we’ll realize that we’ll never get there. The anxiety we’ll feel will be fueled by a sense of disconnection with our own lives. We won’t recognize them as ours, but we are trapped on them.

Society will tell us a story to justify the void we feel. It will teach us how to live with it. Distraction will be our survival mechanism.

But what it if there is nothing wrong with us. What we are right, and we feel disconnected because we are. What if our lives had been indeed defined by others and moved by their inertia, not by ours; what if we never raised our voice, because we were never asked.

That’s our second option: to listen to that voice inside that says this can’t be it, and to jump into the unknown.  

I believe this path will take us to the core of what it means to be human. It requires curiosity and surrender, courage and faith. It doesn’t look easy, and perhaps that’s the point: life, in its wonderful vastness, is nothing like simple. It is the most big, complex, wonderful thing. And as part of nature, so are we—complex. Even when we choose to ignore it.   

If this is the road we’re going to follow, we have homework to do. We must explore, review the rules. Be ready to fail. But perhaps, in the process, we will bloom. Learning to not try to reach the future, but to contemplate it with wonder and curiosity. Learning not to expect, but to dream. Learning not to react, but to listen.

One day we will feel the pain, and the joy, and it all in between. We will embrace our fluidity as living creatures, accepting our changes, loving them all.

We will build a new world where our individuality is cherished. And we will see that beauty in others, learning to love them as they are: unique, untamed.

We will understand that it all is nothing but a dance between two polarities, even if we shouldn’t seek them, but the dance itself. We’ll learn to love the dance. And we’ll do it because we deserve to own the whole spectrum of our human experience: to live every single second of every single day of our lives with responsibility, with bravery, with joy.

That’s what we deserve.

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polarities

When I write for myself, I do it for different reasons. Sometimes I write to force my brain to go slowly. Sometimes I write to make beauty out of something ugly. Sometimes I write to give back. Most of the time, I write to capture something: a moment, a thought, a feeling. I write to help my future self create the story of my life.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust my own memories; I’m not sure if I really remember things. I think I just keep attaching stories to what I feel, trying to make things fit. Life in real-time is confusing. Life’s just meant to be lived, too big to be understood. But sometimes, I need to understand. That’s why I write.

Today I’m writing to capture the strangest of times. Recent events have disrupted the order of our lives at high speed, making us see how fragile our society was in the first place. But the interesting piece is that I’m not sure how this applies to me. My mess was here before, and it comes from the inside.

For years now I’ve been searching for something, although I don’t know what it is. No matter where I am, I stay in the corner of the room and I look around, participating only partially, evaluating—from the outside. I guess I’ve been just adventuring; testing life as if it was a game. Now, I’m stuck in this weird, beta phase.

The truth is that I’m tired. More tired than ever. At some point, the adventure turned into a search. And it is an anxious, urgent one.

Perhaps this is what happens when you start being aware of your own age for the first time, of what it really means to grow older.

There are some things that I simply won’t be able to live. Some, I will experience only if I start quickly.

That realization hits me scary: the cost of opportunity of having a life with an expiration date. I guess I need to evaluate priorities now, to create a vision for myself and commit to it. To figure out what I want, as they say.  The problem is that in this period of my life I find myself unable to decide between options that seem both true, but incompatible. I feel trapped in these polarities all the time, unable to chose my path.

For example, option one: to keep pursuing what I thought was the love of my life.

Option two. To stop pursuing who doesn’t want me to.

Option one. To run away from what I knew to find who I really am.

Option two. To stop burning all my bridges. 

Option one. To fight my fear of other people.

Option two. To control my urge to be accepted by them.

Option one. To tell me I’m too good to be easily seen.

Option two. To consider that I might be actually seen, but not loved.

Trapped in between many things I am forced to stay still, and to keep observing. At least that’s something I know I can learn from all of this: to improve my ability to stay just here, in between. Undefined. Uncomfortable. Fluid. Ready to be curved.

I’m scared, but I know fear works differently when you don’t run from it. If you feel it, fear hurts—but it doesn’t destroy: it transforms. I choose to see fear as the ultimate tool of my biology. Fear gives me the extra push I need when I’m about to look at things so difficult to handle.

So, inspired by fear, I’m doing precisely that: looking at them. Just this time, I’m not writing to understand. Writing it is enough now. And time will unfold, doing the rest.

Los Angeles, California