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Querencia: Playground

There you are, backstage, listening to the person on stage singing their last words. The piano fading, then applause. Loud clapping, people screaming. Hands shaking, you can’t breathe and there’s a knot in your throat. Knowing that you’re going next makes sweat start falling from your hairline. Your heart is pounding while you see that person coming off stage, it’s your turn and all you can do is try to recover the breath that escaped from you. They say that when it’s time to go on stage you should tell yourself: “Showtime!”, but what can you do when all you’re focusing on is not falling while walking your way upstage? Sudden silence from the audience, the only sounds are your footsteps. You stand in front of the mic and there they are, the eyes of a hungry crowd. Looking at you. But you is me… ME. I am the one standing in front of this crowd.

I’m sure they can hear my breath through the speakers. I introduce myself with a shaky voice. That image disappears when I close my eyes, the sound of the piano echoes in the auditorium. I slowly breathe and open my eyes. I sing the first note.

A song is like the 5 layers of the Atmosphere, it keeps building up through every phase. First layer, Troposphere, my lips parting feel like big jumps without gravity. Second layer, Stratosphere, this is where I float. I was given a strength that sometimes I don’t know if it belongs to me, but it seems that with notes I’m brave. Third layer, Mesosphere, I see the spotlight through my lashes. This is my playground and this is my game. I sometimes wish I could freeze this, what I call my precious moment. That second between feeling vulnerable under their eyes and feeling powerful on top of a stage where I rule. I imagine my emotions will make my chest explode. And when my feet are standing in front of the Thermosphere’s gates, the climax of my story, I feel myself falling down. I feel a hand pull me from behind through a curtain to then see all lights on.

Unexpectedly, I find myself in a classroom giving a presentation. Where’s the music? No bright spotlight? Just lights on and a room full of faces. I forgot my words. In my dreams I could say that the beauty of being vulnerable is fair, but in this moment I wish I could vanish. It’s not fair. This is not my playground anymore and I am the game. Everyone’s looking at me waiting for me to say something. And I feel like I’m suffering from some kind of Aphasia, where my mouth has forgotten the ability to speak and my mind is blank. It seems that without notes I’m not brave, and I wish singing and speaking were the same. Trying to keep the tears inside I look up and sigh. I squeeze my eyes hard, everything is black until I see a bright light through my eyelids.

I open them and there’s the spotlight again, I’m on stage. I’m still singing, going up the fourth layer, Thermosphere. I’m transparent in front of those eyes, displaying my feelings as they bloom. As I reach the resolution of my story - Exosphere. I descend as a peaceful feather, so gentle. The piano lands with me, it’s the end of my song. I give a step back, applause rumbles in my ears, people screaming. I bow and when I fix my posture, I smile at the spotlight. Where I belong.

October 2019.

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