Today’s guest blogger, Gabriela Sánchez Díaz, is currently a Master of Gender Studies student at Memorial University. A professional percussionist and a Body Mapping instructor, she came to MUN’s Department of Gender Studies interested in the intersections between femininity, bodies, embodiment, movement, and classical music performance. Like Gina Snooks, who blogged last week, Gabriela examines the possibilities of autoethnography – and in the case of Tami Spry, performative autoethnography – as a vehicle for thinking through the politics of embodied experience
Images and Memories
by Gabriela Sánchez Díaz
“Now. Start Writing. Now. We can talk and read and think all day about writing” (Spry 2011, 151). I stopped. I felt that I was reading a dare. I heard my own voice challenging me and I liked it. I try to write as often as possible; for me writing is a necessity, a way to clean my mind. Sometimes my body needs to cry, my mind needs to write, and now and then, they find each other at the same moment.
I have been noticing how many images cross my mind, making me remember events. Probably this has happened always, but now I am aware of it. Of course it seems that there is always another better time to write.
Images have passed in this week. One was special, it came at night between the stages of sleep and consciousness. A fragment from a hidden place in my body and mind. For the first time, I wrote something considering from the beginning that somebody else was going to read it, an audience for my memory. I took off the protective veil of my mother tongue and wrote it in English.
Half-awake half -asleep
I know the space I know where I am in the present, but the image comes
The bed is in the same place, the window, but it is not the same room.
West 46. That house, that room which was completely mine.
Under the bed, on the wood I wrote “Gaby”, I was learning how to write, that was my name, that was MY bed,
my desk , wood crafted, beautiful.
That and a few pictures was what I rescued from my childhood.
West 46. The first heroic act that I did, the real act of rebellion. I escaped.
Finally, I was free.
I didn’t hear his words, their words. They tried to manipulate, to convince me that I was not allowed to
be free. I didn’t care what they were thinking, feeling, doing, what they were expecting from me.
That was the first time that I just thought about myself.
West 46, the space that supported me, protected me, celebrated me.
The place where I started to play games again with children and friends. The family that lived there became my family;
Lovely Gaby, always looking for a family.
They never questioned, they always helped. Finally, a sense of community.
All the people around me at that time, now have disappeared of my life. How are they? Who sleeps in that room?
Are my three clay flowers still in the wall of the balcony?
I’m not there anymore and since then I’ve had to let go of so much.
My heart is full of gratitude.
In the process of transcribing this from my notebook, I have thought several times that I could not do it. I feel completely naked. I have been writing for years for myself, in Spanish. My life is in notebooks for my niece, if she ever wants to know, to question me/us (my sister and me).
Spry explains to me, “There will always, however, be a degree of reticence in disclosing something about ourselves that others would not ordinarily know” (124). I decided to write a fragment of a fragment. That way I allow the gaze of someone else, but I allow myself to be protective at the same time.
It is tiring. It is an emotionally tiring process. And what happens in my body while writing this fragment? I am pretty sure that my collarbones pull down. That always happens when I am sad or when I try to hide. It goes with the hunching, trying to hide my heart, trying not to be present, not to be three-dimensional. I cry. And at the same time that I am in that specific moment, I am also in what happened before and after and after that. My body does not know about linear time.
Spry, Tami. Body, Paper and Stage: Writing and Performing Autoethnography. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press, 2011.