Being a woman and not having children | Babelia

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Years ago, in a sweltering August that I spent in Madrid, my father, very little given to lapidary phrases and grand declarations, gave me one of the best advice I have ever received. It was on a terrace on Orense Street. The nebulizers spraying water above our heads and the glass of their sunglasses filling with tiny droplets. We talked about expectations, about having reached a certain age, but, above all, the fear of unwanted loneliness. Some time later, as a mantra, as a reminder, I turned that afternoon into a story that I called ‘Crumbs’ because the phrase my father gave me, simple, direct and without a hint of artifice, was “don’t keep the crumbs.”

I thought about what crumbs are, about that multiplicity of meanings that this very everyday concept entails for me, last week, when I was leaving the cinema. At the screening, the film’s director, Celia Rico, had briefly presented The little loves saying that she did not want to condition us with her words, but that she would like us to see her thinking about how we relate to everything that does not come out. What we don’t get. Inside the room, with the perspective provided by the last row, I saw how more than one person shifted in her seat. I imagine that it happens to all of us, that sometimes we fall into the temptation of summarizing life as an accumulation of yeses and forceful affirmations: the work that defines us, that trip that we finally managed to take, the kind relationship that left us so much. I tell myself that it is easier to tell ourselves like this, in the purest style of Wikipedia biographies: a sum of achievements and fulfilled expectations, convincing ourselves that what we have is exactly what we had ambitioned.

Celia Rico’s second film—intimate, poetic, luminous, full of careful details that dialogue with her debut film Trip to a mother’s room, as if both could be understood as a diptych—pulls the thread of that term that still has no place in the dictionary, daughterhood, of the unbreakable and extremely complex mother-daughter bond. But this link is, in reality, an attempt to navigate the emotional biography of a single, childless woman over 40 years old. The attempt to ask oneself, with tenderness and delicacy, about the way to go through life at a time when certainties have already faded, and little remains of those loves that we believed were definitive and that in the end have not been so definitive.

The story of The little loves It takes place in that parenthesis that is always summer and Teresa (María Vázquez) has bought some tickets to travel to Massachusetts, a city she doesn’t know—where someone she doesn’t know much about spends some time—so that Massachusetts symbolizes that piece made as he is forced to fit into the glaring gap that remains in his puzzle. But Teresa’s mother, Ani (Adriana Ozores), suffers a domestic accident and she, who is a childless daughter, that is, an eternal daughter, will stay to take care of her in what was her childhood home.

Being a woman and not having children means having faced, among many other unwanted questions and opinions, who will take care of you when your parents are away. Or to the emasculating sentence “when you grow up—when you are old—you will be alone.” As if life had to be organized with a view to old age and having children was, ultimately, a patch, the guarantee no longer of happiness but of company, the only valid antidote to loneliness.

In the trial live alone, The writer Vivian Gornick affirms that loneliness is the human condition that least lends itself to easy analysis. The text begins like this: “It’s Sunday morning and I’m walking north along Columbus Avenue,” and from that point on, Gornick tells how she comes across all kinds of couples. The impression comes to him that, regardless of his circumstances, some time later, each of these unions will dissolve and its members will once again walk hand in hand with another person, and so on in aeternum until one fine day they will meet again in the starting point, to be looking unaccompanied through the window of a room. Who would have imagined, she asks herself, that there would be so many of us between 35 and 55 years old living alone.

It sounds, in The little lovesthat old Bee Gees song called Massachusetts, and the song is evocation and promise, the soft litany of everything that in the end was not. Because Teresa and Ani’s summer is ending, it’s time to return, and I thought, as I left the cinema, returning home too, about the infinite and invisible Massachusetts that inhabits the lives of each one, and that in order to shield oneself against a fear You have to move towards it, live with it, face it. Otherwise, it is easy to end up settling for the crumbs, to end up forgetting that no matter how many we accumulate, they will never form – it was very clear to me on that terrace on Orense Street – even a tiny part of the cake.

Laura Ferrero is a writer and screenwriter. Her latest novel is ‘The astronauts’ (Alfaguara) and his most recent film, ‘Un amor’, by Isabel Coixet.

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