À bout de souffle ( Episode 2 )

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Aesthetic sufferings, tight skirts over even tighter hips, black stockings and a hat – sometimes feathery, sometimes plain white. Actually, there is nothing plain about a white flight attendant’s hat, stripes or dots for that matter. We were floating on an enormous boat, concrete and glass, and the sky seemed to be the stormiest sea if you happened to look up. There was a mirror above the city and our reflections in and beyond it. When you looked  past the mirror you saw water. When you looked straight in the mirror your reflection would deepen an already wounded abyss. It left you breathless sometimes. Like these tight skirts, like those loose clothes I put on just to find myself choking from simulating an anonymous existence.

I have tried on the coat of invisibility, but it was never the right size. I have lied to myself and covered my body with hurtful, thick fabrics just to find out that I can only confront the lowest temperatures in silky long barebacked gowns.

I always see myself hurting beautifully, running on the streets, just like Florence always does, highest heels on, waving goodbye to all the boys that happen to say hello.

Something changed that day on the rooftop after I put the white hat on. I was suddenly aware of the shape of my body, the wind became a harsh reminder of all the boats I have missed. I could only sit there contemplating a journey with an indefinite, rusty destination. When I turned around I saw her and I smiled. The shape of her body – covered in green and peplum and orange and fur and gloves and feathery hat – telling a softer story than my own. So I joined her on a calmer sea, on a wider boat, on a safer trip. She smiled back and I could almost hear her whisper words of wonder and clean nostalgia, like her eyes could not envision the mess a storm can leave behind.

Oh, but she can see and she can feel what is always left behind. She knows about the lonely harbors where we leave dry souvenirs just like sailors do. Two drifters, my dear friend, always leaving before the ship sinks, always ready to jump back in if the danger had passed, always wrapping ourselves in the stories we want to hear.

Gabriela still has so many layers to wrap us in. I just sit quietly, try them on and listen.

Gabriela Atanasov’s collection can be found here

Photography by Fabian Tatomirescu and  Paul Träger

Special thanks to Bella Renner and Florin Dumitru as well

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