Businesswoman

My relationship with numbers has always been a difficult one. As a child, some of my darkest moments have to do with numbers: counting the hours till dawn in a sleepless night, imagining how zero, infinity, looked. I preferred stories. I used to write them, not sure how often but they stand out in the landscape of my childhood. There was a happy point growing up in which my mother was with a partner that made her happy, at least for a while, and together they invented a storytelling night, once a week. I am not sure how much it lasted, or what the others wrote, my mother, her partner, my brother; not even sure what I wrote myself. There is only this one story that remained in my mind, called The onion and the garlic. I was very young, perhaps seven, or six, and wrote this little story about a salad, and the onion and garlic that lived within. It was probably really silly, and I think I even thought so at the time, but through all these years, it has stayed. Not sure if the onion and garlic were friends, or hated each other, I kind of feel, as a hunch, that they were survivors, that they were trying to connect.

I have been never been good with numbers, so I chose Psychology, and cheated in every single exam that involved memory, mathematics and calculations. And yet, here I am, a businesswoman. It was a tittle that was hard for me to bear. Tittles in general are difficult for me, or have been. Being called daughter, wife, sister, it feels heavy, committal. Why not Sara, or just me? I studied Psychology but never ever liked to be called psychologist, and then I left Costa Rica and mutated into all those strange things that a person in exile, voluntary or not, becomes. I hung cheap stinky winter coats in the basement of a Copenhagen disco from 11pm until dawn, I cleared giant barbecue messes from Norwegian and Swedish tourists in a ribs place, I cleaned a Pakistani woman’s home, who offered me her second hand clothing and cleaning shoes, I attended with patience the angry calls of IBM clients while I sat in a desk, buried in the depth of the Scandinavian woods; and like this many other random jobs, that allowed me to drift, not commit.

In Boston I was first called Spanish teacher (the shivers) and then Project Officer. I liked those two tittles, but they didn’t bother me because they were things I could escape, if I felt like it. I could take a plane, fled, become a bum, or not. But then I came to London and without knowing it, planted all the seeds for this tittle: businesswoman.

However, my relationship with numbers hasn’t changed, and I cannot even picture what 60 square feet is, really is. It is hard, being a businesswoman without being able to understand what 60 square feet are really all about. Never before in my life have I loved and cared so much for anything like my business, Battersea Spanish, and yet numbers are hard.

I am not sure if I will ever become a mathematical woman. I am plus forty now, and I sort of doubt it. So, what to do? I am not too bothered with titles and names, in a different way than before, in a call me whatever you want way, that’s not the point. What I have always been good at, I think, is at striving to foster connections, human bridges, at fighting loneliness and lovelesness, which I think, in the bottom of it all, is what Battersea Spanish is all about. I lost a home many years ago, and that’s what I’m doing, building one; a warm, welcoming one, like a giant salad bowl, where all the little odd pieces come together, and live in harmony, no matter what. I think the onion and garlic loved each other very much, I think that’s what has stayed from the story, the love.

I am not sure how to be a businesswoman, to tell you the truth, and at times it’s scary, very much. For now, I will tell myself it is okay, what matters, what really matters, is to make the dream come true, regardless of what it takes. The numbers; perhaps they will come.

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saracaba

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09 2017

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