If the day rises (Ariel Barreiros and my two or three unhappy tunes)
I woke up on a Thursday at three in the afternoon in a Longina, a few years ago. I was meeting a friend to see a concert. She was tired, hungover, hypersensitive; I didn't want to go in, but my friend had invited me with peculiar emotion and I said yes, of course, that I would be there. I regretted it after two minutes, when I started to get thirsty, when people started talking loudly before the concert, when it got cold and I became insubstantial and agoraphobic. I was particularly unbearable, I was until Ariel Barreiros opened the concert singing Girl.
I sat down.
I wasn't so crazy about leaving anymore.
That was a sedative, an anxiolytic, something he told me Sit there and learn once and for all to multiply pigeons.
I was living in those days a story similar to that of Girl and I was the boy who sang, and sometimes I was also the girl, the one who would move from the yard some time later, and whose sum of pigeons, unfortunately, would never become a number (not even a sum).
Surely I asked Who is that. Surely they told me That is Ariel Barreiros, a Cienfuegos troubadour who has been singing around since the 80s. Surely I put my feet up and rested my chin on my knees, my hands crossed on my ankles, as I do when I'm at home and a song is playing that I like it. I surely felt at home. But I can't guarantee anything.
What I can assure you is a feeling of tenderness, seeing me there, someone telling me I told you so.
Afterwards it was no longer a sedative but a future, premonitory nostalgia. [Years later I am the girl, and I never knew “Nemesia”, it is true, nor was the piggy bank worth anything to me. Years later I'm sitting in an armchair and it's about five o'clock. Gone are —much to my regret— the time when to love was to behave well].
Soon people knew Slow mediumThey all sang it in chorus. By now I've heard it a thousand times and I've smoked into oblivion, and I've left the moon lit at the price of a very bad and very sweet wine. I think by now I can listen to her while I'm talking about something else. But that afternoon I heard it for the first time and I felt there inside (me and my mania for looking for myself in everything).
Ariel was barely visible, he was hunched over behind the guitar and I don't think he ever opened his eyes during the concert. No. He never opened his eyes during the concert. He said with regret and with desire —a curious mixture— that the country of the people had left him for the love of someone. I had left my town and believed that making countries was as simple as drawing maps.
I was impressed by the number of people there, all in silence, all hugging each other, all wrapped in a tiny, modest and beautiful magic, like everything great. This seemed like a ceremony. The iddé of tenderness broke and I finally knew how to turn into tears when he began to sing A man.
[Now I hear again A man while I write, and I get so fatal that it always, always, always wakes me up. I, who gathered all the moons for love, who sent a drunken song, who spent thousands of pigeons flying and didn't get very far... I, who don't know the length of the cord that was tied from God to my poor back, who I already broke a couple of mirrors with my fist; me, the one who pretended to be one femme fatale Even though I'm happy, I'm crying at 5 in the morning because I have no idea what the two or three happiest tunes I can remember are. I am a man who did not take well the return to the heart].
Yes, that day, almost nightfall, Ariel sang A man. With that song closed. I couldn't digest it. A few years ago I was the girl, not the vice, not the place, not the wait. I couldn't understand that I was the fatal man, the heart that is neglected. [Now it's different, now I listen to it and I know in which country I prefer to wake up more alive. Now I don't care if they call me Girl or Boy. Now I see the string, and it breaks my spine into four wings].
The concert was beautiful, I know because I remember crying, I remember laughing with Maria, with that "you're going to see what's good with my love". Memory Agape and another story, and another story… I remember kissing someone who is now my friend, who today sends me audios on WhatsApp singing Girl out of tune, or asking me Girl so that I can sing it with my poor little three chords. I dedicated Girl to a monster boy named Abel Reyes, who at that time was the journalist with the nose piercing, my boyfriend, the pretty thing I fell in love with like Ariel de María, or Paula, or all the Patricias.
[But I don't go to concerts anymore, I think I got sick in the head and I can't stand so many people together, I think there are no concerts anymore. Lately I just go to Gaby's house and she explains to me that books smell good due to the oxidation of lignin, which is one of the polymers that make up the cell walls of plants that have a trunk; she plays songs and smiles, and a few days ago she played again The signalman's song and I pretended not to be sad, just as I pretended to know what a polymer was. She knew that I was sick and that I had no idea about cell walls.
—I can, if the day rises, even dream.
—But to the poor portal who explains it…
Gaby and I talked in verse, one recited a bit and the other answered with the next.
I knew why he was sad. I was the signalman of a heart, the little man of nothing. It was November in the whole window and I took to being a chalice, a country, a bolero, a psalm, a piece of luggage. He gave me someone unbelievable.
Gaby asked me what's wrong with you. I told him nothing, that I didn't know what a polymer was or where the sadness came from.
He told me that those compounds were formed by polymerization, he told me about repeating structural units. And I told her about sadness and her eyes glazed over (she always cries with songs like that).
I don't know where my anguish comes from, I don't know how many pigeons give 7×3, I don't know what polymerization is, but I know that sadness, that time, was invoked by The signalman's song. (We both know that sadness is made up of repeated structural units.) We fell silent. I looked out the window (we agreed that it was November, right?), and I saw a horrible landscape. I felt worse, like a book in the back of a low-cost bookstore, without the nose of a girl looking for polymers.
I told myself things like It makes a big staircase and loneliness; as I have winter left to forget; like I am the good prisoner who got used to it].
The concert ended around eight o'clock (the fireflies only gave for one Thursday). I woke up thirsty and with eyes full of drives. How fatal I got...
Everyone gathered up their bags and cigarette boxes. They all went to tell Ariel that the concert had been beautiful (it was). They all returned to the inexplicable portal, to the combined molecules, to 7 × 3, to 21.
I stayed seated -poor slow polymer-,
I told myself I can, if the day rises, even dream...
But he didn't get up.
I got up afterwards. I was lost in my agoraphobia and my psychosis. I smoked a cigarette, I felt sorrow for the length of the string.
I wasn't there for sadness, nor for a man named Ariel Barreiros to teach me how to multiply after so many years.
I cried a little (polymers and units, and sadness).
"I needed this concert," I told my friend.
I don't know what he answered.
I grabbed my four frets, my bag, my blue box, my structures. That day I came to the room alone. That day I cried because I always cry before the beautiful, after the beautiful. I am dazzled I unleash the pigeons. I wanted to leave early because I wasn't up for the drama. What am I but a girl who doesn't know where Gulliver is?
The adverse reaction arrived, the bad thing.
I don't know.
I couldn't get a good grip on the heart.
I have the most polymeric soul that exists and the walls of my house hurt me, the cell walls of my house.
No. I wasn't up for the drama but I put up with it for a bit. [But to the poor portal who explains it…].
I am a beast of carrying nostalgia, I told myself.
I am an animal without an owner.
I put out the cigarette.
I brushed off my dress.
I picked up my bag.
And I left.