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“Why can’t I wear shorts? It’s just a stupid party”, I loudly replied. “You’re not a child anymore. Men wear pants.” My mom tried to convince me to wear pants by saying “men wear pants.” I didn’t want to go to the party. But I was 15 years old; it was the first time I was going out with my parents to one of those small city country club events. The whole society would be present, my parents noticing my dissociation with everything and everyone related to the environment I was part of, convinced me to go. I kept arguing about why I had to wear pants.

At the party, some men were wearing shorts. Obviously, I didn’t say anything, I looked at my mom with a “what do you have to say now?” attitude. The same people I had seen every day in my life was there. The same I had gone to school with, I had been to the gym with, I had been forced to see them at the church as well, on the streets, the same people I learned how to not care about or not want to have any relationship with. Still, with my parents at my side, I was there smiling, being the polite personage I also learned to be. I sat at the table looking at the characters for the most of the night. I would dance, but not there, not with them, not with that music. I would drink, and my parents permitted me to drink, but I felt stupid being an inconsequent teenager drinking for the sake of being stupid. I had to repeatedly answer “no” to my dad who constantly kept asking me if I wanted a beer. “What are you going to say now, that I’m a man, so I have to drink beer?” I didn’t say that, but I wanted to. I left the table after seen some of my school friends there. They were looking at the girls; lying about the ones they had a kiss with or something else. I kind of wanted to dance with the girls, yet men weren’t supposed to dance back then. They were drinking; I went back to my parent’s table. One of my mom’s friends, one that always left a red lipstick mark on my face, asked me to dance with her. I happily did; one of those 70s disco music that I loved. I was a good dancer, but it wasn’t worth the moves; those people didn’t have a clue about the disco liberation movement. I didn’t have a clue on how to be myself. At the end of the night, I was having fun just observing the party, allegedly a remarkable one. Some girls were kissing the older guys hiding from their parents, the ones no one wanted were dancing, waiting for someone to pick them up. The guys my age were still talking at the corner of the salon; they were visibly drunk at this point, with no girls wanting them. I kept looking at everyone; I wanted to leave as soon as possible. In the car, my mom asked me if I had fun, I said I would rather wear short.

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She is anxiously waiting. She is releasing her biggest musical project to date, one that reflects on the life of a woman – it’s a proud moment for her. Lately, her career has been spectacular. The media and the public absolutely love her. They buy what she says; they look at her more maturely. She isn’t the same puppet girl dancing on stage waiting for claps; she is here for more. Her new music transcends people’s perceptions of her. One more minute and the album is out. She has one more minute to breath before being judged by her work. She feels secure about that. Artists must use their voice, that is the reason for their fame, and the reason for millions to engage in their life existence. She is giving a little bit of that. Her life somewhat manifests in her music, not just with what she feels, but also in a description of what she lived. Audiences crave for that small piece of information that makes “super-humans” into regular people. Everything involved in her life becomes expectable; it’s just one life. One made with mistakes and glories like everyone else. The difference is the price tag of the clothes she wears. Personalities are more than just that. Still, everyone just wants to know the inside gossip of their personal life. It’s a lack of perception of the hardship of training one’s talents; how one works hard on a piece of entertainment to be more than a fab. She fights for her creation to be out, for people to enjoy more than a frivolous beat, for people to relate to her testimony of the current world. She questions how many people from the thousands she reaches will reflect in what she is saying. Art is a matter of reflection. Through art entertainment exists, becoming mundane when the society is more reflexive of what celebrities are drinking than what they are saying. And they have a lot to say. The media isn’t helpful as well. They give the fans an unrelated idea of who the artists are. They use the audience’s admiration to portrait an exciting life when in reality, it’s just as tedious as anyone life. A catharsis created to give a little bit of satisfaction in knowing that someone better – better? – has a life full of difficulties and challenges, for the whole purpose of making the spectators feel better about themselves. She hears a bang. The champagne is open; everyone is celebrating her new music endeavor. She shakes the hands of her inner circle. She smiles like the beauty pageant everyone wants her to be. She knows just that – give them brioches.

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He had a big sister. Through his eyes, she was a most beautiful ballerina. He didn’t want to play football; he wanted to dance with his big sister. Ballet is for girls, they said, he could see as well. No boys allowed. So he kept that to himself. Like many of his thoughts, he never seemed to be like anybody else. The outside world was too trivial. He tried hard to be like everyone else. Like everyone, he wore blue, like everyone he played tough. The slightest attempt to be himself was a disaster. Either with laughers or reprimands, the outside world felt boring and unimportant; the world inside was louder. The world inside was brighter. He could dance as much as he wants and no one would judge him. He wasn’t different because he was himself. Inside there was no difference between what a man can do or what a woman can be. They were different, but they lived as they wished. People could love who they wanted without the fear of being transgressors. They just love each other with no labels; how beautiful that is. They could pray to god, to God, to Allah, to Buddha. Maybe they decided to not pray at all. There was no reason to force beliefs and behaviors. The inside world wasn’t real. It was just a dream. In fact, he searched for that place in many places. But no matter where he was and what he did, the outside world kept showing him people was just what they were told to be, not as they were. As people grew older, they ended up forgetting whom they are. He didn’t want to be part of that anymore. He escaped, but there were nowhere to hide. He did try to live in both worlds, but the outside was the one he needed to be. He couldn’t just be living comfortable inside his mind. He had to face his difference, his desires. He had to be himself not someone else.


It doesn’t matter which side you are, we are losing it. All we do is using our hate as consequence for our fears. We hate those who agree with us, and we refuse to listen to those that don’t. We hate the conservators, but we think the society is too accepting. We hate the rich for having too much, the poor for not being ambitious, and the middle class for being in the middle. We hate the man for their supremacism and the women for their persuasiveness. We hate homosexuals for choosing who they want to connect, transexuals for choosing who they want to be, and bisexuals for choosing too much; while hating heterosexuals for being conventional. We hate all those that skin color are different than ours, the culture from different communities, all those who we can’t communicate. We hate religions that differ from our beliefs, often condemning their practices when all religions preach tolerance. We condemn those who use hate jokes for exposure. We praise those who use hate rhetoric for a vote. While we disguise our hate speech for personal opinion. The future generation that is born without any hate is taught to be like us. We will destroy our bodies in the name of being likable. We will destroy our environment in the name of comfort. We will destroy our humanity in the name of our benevolent faith. And we will lose until we learn what is love. 

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Here’s to you, my dear friend Happiness. I raise my glass to the moments you bring me every day. The times you made me smile, the times you made me cry. We are all here together praising you, my long dear friend. You were there on my fifth birthday, and I can still remember when I got that ball bigger than me. It was made of plastic, colorful, beautiful; and it bounced, and I jumped, and laughed, with a simple ball bigger than me. You were there on my first trip with my friends. When I first discovered we are all connected somehow. We hiked for hours to reach the top of a mountain, with our heavy backpacks pulling us back. We had a hard time walking; the incline was slick at times. All the pain was forgotten when we reached the top of that mountain; the orange-pinkish sunset was mesmerizing. We inhaled the fresh air; we felt you there, a moment of happiness. Do you know when you look at someone and you feel happy? Yes, you were there when I felt in love. That moment when you know you are not alone, someone is there to share the smallest aspects of your life; someone you can look at and feel you, Happiness. The slightest touch of hands and you are there. I can’t express my gratitude to have you by my side. Even in the moments of difficulty, I knew you were there supporting me. You were there for me, and I felt you guiding me through those special moments. There’s just no small place for you to be because you are everywhere. Thank you for being a friend. Thank you for bringing me a sparkling happiness.

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Her name is Liz. As a contemporary woman, she constantly has to remember how happy she is. Liz gets everything she’s ever planned to have. There’s absolutely no way someone with this name is a failure. She is married to her perfect match – some would say there was a relieve in her face at the wedding day. With Robert, she has a beautiful ring, a house on the hills and two beautiful kids. And Liz wants them to be as happy as she reminds herself to be. Sophia and Liam are the name of her dreams.

Every Sunday, the family goes to their favorite brunch place. Every Sunday, there’s a picture to be taken. Liz picks out a scenery for this afternoon souvenir. She has a good number of followers on Instagram, going beyond the friends and family usual numbers – posing her life and family smiles for everyone to see. Robert, always supportive, sets the phone’s camera while Liz drags the kids to her side. Sophia, a few years older than her brother, gets bothered by the sun in her eyes. Her mother seems not to see. Liam smiles unaware of his surroundings. With the light hitting their faces, Sophia doesn’t want to be photographed today. She says it out loud. Her mother seems not to hear. Liz pulls the daughter closer, Sophia picks her nose. Liz, smiling and ready for the click, pushes Sophia’s arm away from the nose, strong enough for the girl to understand something is wrong, as if she doesn’t know. Stubborn, she uses the other hand to touch her nose. Sophia knows what she wants, or in this case, what she doesn’t want.

Liz fears how Sophia is different from her. The girl doesn’t relate to the woman by her. There’s little resemble left between them, even though Sophia is exactly like her mother. What happened to Liz cheeks? And hair? And lips? It’s all part of the perfect Liz. She is so unique, she looks exactly like all the women in her neighborhood.

Liz gets her picture, and posts it, and waits. She gazes at Sophia with anger, deserts for Liam who only cares about his drawings on dad’s phone. Sophia observes her mother, the girl just can’t compete with the perfection Liz personifies. As they leave the restaurant, Liz gets a good number of “likes”, so much so that she can feel good about herself. Well pleased, she smiles at her phone.

 

Protection

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I’m her little boy, always by her side wherever she goes. I’m proud when I’m with her, a little soldier guarding his queen. She protects my dreams, sending away my nightmares. She teaches me how to love, the unconditional bound a mother and her child shares. Lessons with no words. She pushes me to be better, more grounded, less dreamy when I just want to fly endlessly. I wish I could teach her how to be free. But she must stay where she is, reigning over my heart. Far away, the little boy who refuses to grow up knows he is safe. She is always there to hold his hand wherever he goes.