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2020 by Gabriela Vera

Approximate reading time:10 mins.
Slow fashion made in Spain by Arena Martínez - 2020 Gabriela Vera

Dear all,

From Arena Martinez we wanted to wish you a wonderful 2021! We would like to share with you a great letter from my great friend Gabriela Vera, who sent me by mail to end 2020 and welcome this new one.

I hope you like it.

Much love and good luck in this new year!

Arena Martinez


Since two or three years ago, I do not remember correctly, I started writing an online letter to my friends and family and share with them a little about my year. I call it “Gaby’s Tales”, I make a literary cocktail where I mix a lot of emotions, because that’s who I am. I know they would’ve probably laughed, and cried but I never dared to send the letter, although I only needed to press send. Today December 29th of 2020, I start writing my year in summary, and I’m sure of two things. First I can’t allow myself not to write about this year, and second, by not sending my letter the years before- and dare myself start a new tradition that I really wanted to start, because of the fear of feeling vulnerable- The lesson that is repeated to us the most, takes a hold of m, and after many stumbles, some of us have the joy to finally understand it: “One loses a 100% of the chances one doesn’t take”.

I sit down to write, at the same cafe where the coffee is bad but the company is good, and I look around me.

There are six more people other than me, there are two that come from jogging in El Retiro park, and other two catching up. I assume we have nothing in common, but somehow I feel close to them at the same time. We are all here december 29th 2020, and that says a lot by itself. We have all survived, probably we’ve all cried to, we’ve had a bad time, we’ve all felt the fear and the uncertainty, and I can predict that after thinking that we couldn’t take it anymore and that nothing made sense, even the slightest detail made us all laugh, after months of gloominess.

That feeling, “hope is the last thing you lose”, according to great resilient people (and grandmas) it’s always there, it’s just hard to see, and one wrongfully assumes it’s not with you. Then when you go out on the street, a little low on energy still, things start happening, like a baby watching me while a try to eat some ice cream pulling my face mask up and down- and making a mess of myself- he laughs at me, laugh at myself, we share a laugh, and right there in that instant if you don’t think life is great, you just lost a great moment.

This is what my hands are trying to say today, instantly after finishing that very last sentence, I realize I’m alive, what a privilege. Thanks, thanks, and thanks.

The ambition of a writer can take you to wanting to tell it all in one story, in other opportunities it also hides behind the intellectuality of analogies only some can understand. I want everyone to understand me, and I’m not going to tell it all, just going to tell what’s necessary.

What a word, right? Essential, when I was a little girl and I didn’t understand a word I used to look it up in the dictionary, it was fun for me. I would like to invite you to look up it’s meaning, because for a lot of time now, we have trivialized it. This year has taught us a lot, and in the most espiritual way. In one of my long moments of introspective, something revealed itself to me like a movie- that I could both watch and feel- what is that that is essential to me. I felt exactly what my mind, body and soul needed. And if I close my eyes I can relive it and hold on to that memory:

“I’m with my family, laughing, singing and dancing to some latin beat that my shoulder, feet and hips recognize instantly. Eating surrounded by genuine love, telling stories, hugged, I didn’t need my expensive elegant shoes that I bought last year, I’m barefoot, standing, walking, really the highest luxury. Like Albert Camus said “In the middle of winter I finally learned that there was an invincible summer inside of me” this memory will always be my sun, and warm breeze.

About this ending year I can say it got off to a good start. Everything was going wonderfully, I even started making plans! I met a great love, who came to be an important one. And then they confined us. They separated us physically from a lot of things, traditions, work, from life as we knew it, and from the latest conquest. But life goes on, I ended things up with my boyfriend, on facetime of course. I learned to live with myself, which is not the same as living alone. I learned to take care of myself, to not take care of myself, and to take care of myself again. I felt sad, happy, energetic, desperate. “It’s fine” I said to myself, all of this is part of me and I welcome any feeling, even if it isn’t silk to do. For more tantrums of Gaby with Gaby, I realize that I can’t control the situation. That Gaby the fighter can’t save the world from Covid, and in this moment of acceptance with what it is, alone in my apartment I learned to live with myself again. You start by understanding one thing or two about life, and you feel that vital energy that lives inside you that tells you that this shall pass to.

And like all passes, the same way that leaves from trees are born to fall, and after a cold, grey winter, without much planning, without any expectations, they simply just let themselves guide by something bigger, and they are reborn, you are reborn as well.

All of the sudden it’s August, and I get an invitation to Ibiza. I long for the sea and take on adventures, and so I go. I’m outdoors, I can smell the sea breeze, I have a couple of era pounds but I can’t be happier with my bikini and the tan lines the sun leaves on me after a beach day. I’m in the coves of the mediterranean, that are as espectacular, if not more, as when they tell you about them in famous songs. I go into the sea, float, there’s little jellyfishes, sea urchins, and I don’t care, I swim naked, I feel free and I create another great memory of my life.

I transport to the plains in Venezuela, where I once- in that time where it’s not day anymore but it’s not night yet- I floated on a river of sweat water and I was happy. My hands were sticking to the water, and then I remembered about- possibly- the only thing I learned in physics class at school: superficial tension. This phenomenon that results from the cohesive forces between molecules, where the solid can’t break the thin barrier that lays over the surface of the liquid and it elevates. Just as insects do, that walk over water without drowning. In that moment my hands are as light as an insect, but it’s only because my mind is at peace, nothing worries me, everything is perfect just the way it is and I’m happy. I give thanks to this amazing island for having reminded me of this feeling inside me and outside of it’s waters that for many it’s sacrate.

This year I’ve win, and I’ve lost, like almost anyone that lives with me, and at the end I focus on what I’ve won. The strength of gratitude makes me write, dream, open myself up to life. And for opening myself up to life, I see masters everywhere “everyone has something to teach me” I think… and when my inspiration goes away, I leave the Cafe and stumble into Geno, Geno is a Bulgarian immigrant known by the name of “Kiko” y he has a pizza place very close from my apartment. Kiko and I talk sometimes, when from the window of his kitchen he asks me “What are you reading?” the first time I was reading “Tales of a castaway”. I say to him: “Kiko, this actually happened, a man spent ten days at sea without knowing what would happen to him”. He gets interested without showing it, but my intuition tells me that there’s something there and his eyes give it away. Gino feels identified… Gaby too… maybe you too. And in moments like this, I remember a song that my eight years old niece wrote, and it goes like this: “I can see so easily what’s behind your eyes, a giant heart beating, that does not wish to keep on hiding” Kids are geniuses! It’s essential that we allow  ourselves to have more moments like this, to show what we really are, and from where we come from.

So, what I get from the said before, is not how wonderful is Garcia Marquez- although he indisputably is- it’s something else. It’s vital to share the great privilege of time with those with whom you share your most deep values, and virtues, with whom you can be your most authentic and genuine you. If you find a Geno, a doctor, or a street sweeper- It doesn’t matter- a person that lights you up with his or her presence and has something beautiful to bring to your path, you’re receiving a gift. At the end, one realizes that those little unexpected things and encounters are the most surprising and fulfilling. It’s here where for me, the magic of life lives. To finish up, I would like to wish- not only for 2021- but for ever, some ideas that I got from a song from Joaquín  Sabina and Joan Manuel Serrat and I carry it practically tattooed on my days:

May your luggage do not drag your wings,

May your calendar do not bring you rush,

May I love you win the battle of the people,

May the end of the world catches you dancing,

May all the moons be honeymoons,

May the truths come without complex,

May you look whatever you like,

May the abandonment do not take over you,

May been brave do not come at a high price,

May been coward not be worth it,

May they do not buy you for less than nothing,

May they do not sell you love without thornes,

May the heart never go out of style.

Gabriela Vera

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