Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

22 December 2022

Fitful hibernation

I'm on a complicated journey. It's entangled in my feelings about capital and exploitation, and a newfound fear about whether I can continue to sustain myself—to make money, as if from air—as I've done for almost two decades.

I've changed, but the world has also changed.

This past month or so in Paris energised me, as it always does, a wolf mother feeding a prodigal cub. I activated myself for work in ways I haven't in two years. I began new projects, started turning the wheels on a different kind of life that will cost more and demand more of me. I barely slept. 

In those weeks, which slid by like water—and despite the challenges, which were numerous and insane—everything seemed possible. I seemed possible.

But now I'm back in Italy. However long I run the fire—and I've become so good at igniting it, nurturing it, feeding it and cleaning it—upstairs it remains cold as a marble tomb under night air. I can see my breath, even wrapped under covers. It is hard to crawl out of bed, to initiate the day. It is hard to do anything but tend fire.

My mobility, of course, is also not what it is in Paris. As long as I don't have a car here, I'm limited. The nights are longer, solstice having passed. I didn't mark it, but watched the sky go darker earlier. I spend the nights on the phone with banks, trying to sort international transfers, paving the way for new things.

We are in the lee of holiday time. Everything grinds to a halt; I shouldn't fret, that's what this time is for. It's Hekate's time, Crone time: A moment reflected in our days by the auspice of night, in our months through menstruation, and in the year with winter. Like all animals, we slow and recuperate energies for waking time, waking season. Sugar and water will once again rush up the veins of trees.

When I walk across the garden for firewood, I become aware of the stillness of the plants, and of the careful coverings Demo's father placed over the crops and the external faucets. The chickens no longer squawk. Everything is sleeping. Braced against the cold, I do my yoga—stilling my racing heart, trying to locate quiet as I listen to my body. Where are we aching, where is it tight? I refilled my private apothecary, combining oils and plants for muscular pain, nail fungi, lip balm, mouthwash, moisturiser. 

Constant movement but still I feel that anxiety, that all the energy I whipped up in Paris will somehow snuff out beyond reach and beyond reignition. That the hope and possibility I felt were contextual and temporary and now I'm back to stillness, waiting for a new life to begin while uncertain what to chase, or whether to chase.

I oscillate between offering services to people and wondering if there is anything, really, I can or want to offer. In a matter of days I've again lost my sense of fit. I drink peppermint tea mixed with cacao, filling my body with familiarity and comfort. I make porridges, alternating between salty and sweet.

In the night I'm fed by offerings: Thick stews Demo prepared, cool bean-based mixes his father set on the doorstep, one morning when I hadn't yet found the courage to face the chill beyond the sheets. My life here is quiet and almost maddeningly calm, and I think again about how, during our time together in Paris, Demo said it was hard to sleep because my relationship to time is different, I vibrate with stress, it rolls off my skin and permeates space. He's contemplating changes, too, to ease my back and forth swinging.

Eventually I will adjust, like always. I need to find a way to make peace with these dynamics and move forward regardless of where I am, locating equilibrium between these two selves, which can no doubt serve whatever I decide to do in their own way.

"What's happened with your PhD?" my Italian instructor asked pointedly.

"Nothing," I answered. "It's too expensive and I can't take it on right now."

He frowned. We talked a bit about where I could look in France. "France would be easier, and cheaper," he said. I told him about my fear of complex writing in French, even after all these years; he said he wrote his PhD in French while still learning it. "Some things I would say better today, other things not," he said. Then he shared his own anxiety: Next year he'll apply for a fascinating programme in California, one that excites even me, and he worries for his English.

I laughed. "I can help with that," I offered, and he smiled. I know he won't take me up on it but I also know he's glad that card is there. We like each other and share affinities. That I found an Italian instructor as taken by mythology as I am doesn't feel accidental.

I'm going to read, and do some handwriting—things I haven't done in weeks, so taken was I by the tides of Paris and what I've been needing to do there. The fire has finally caught, so I can step away for awhile. It wouldn't be right to say I don't dare to hope; rather, I don't have to hope. Instead I have to wait, slow down and reflect. I will need this rest for what's to come, whatever it is.

I think of the woman who married a bear. It burst into her tent, spiriting her away, locking her in his cave just in time for hibernation. Beside him, she falls into deep slumber; sometimes, in that time out of time, she wakes in the dark, her tummy a sharp hollow, and pokes him sharply. He groans and gives her his paw, from which she licks thick tears of oil. Just enough nourishment to fall back into sleep until spring, when she wakes as his wife.

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