‘Suspension’, by Efrosini Camatsos

ButterflyLifeCycle

Η Ευφροσύνη Καμάτσος*, συγγραφέας ιστοριών μεταξύ άλλων, παρακολούθησε από κοντά όλη την πορεία μέχρι το #TEDxThess14, τις ομιλίες της φετινής χρονιάς και τα μηνύματα που θελήσαμε να μεταδώσουμε. Έτσι, εμπνέεται από το “Every End Is A Beginning” και χαρίζει σε όλους εμάς το…παραμύθι του TEDx Thessaloniki 2014.

Suspension

“And that’s how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly,” her mother would end the story at the precise moment that she would finish braiding her daughter’s hair and wind the elastic around the bottom tip to hold it in place. Her mother sat in a chair and she on the floor between her mother’s legs. The braid was tight, French, and she’d keep it in her hair for days, taking it out only after her mother warned her that one more day without washing her hair and she’d find caterpillars threading cocoons in it. The thought of having butterflies fly out of her hair she liked, but the thought of caterpillars crawling in, she didn’t. And so, she’d take the braid out, wash her hair, and wait until the next time her mother would braid it.

Then, braids fell out of fashion. Or, rather she fell out of fashion with braids. You see, only little girls braided their hair, and she wasn’t a little girl anymore. She wasn’t sure who she was, and her hair showed it. She cut it boy-cut short. When it grew out again, she dyed it black, to match her clothes and a nose-ring. Then it went red, then bleached blond, until winding up back at her own light brown.

It wasn’t that she didn’t know how to braid her hair – her mother had taught her – it was that she didn’t dare tie it up, restrain it, because she loved the way the wind blew through it, wild, free, refusing all commitments, reveling in the illusion that it’d remain as glossy and shiny and carefree forever. She remembered doing a headstand one day, she loved standing on her head, as if this too was the path to something she did not yet know, and seeing her hair spread on the mat, silky waves cushioning her head.

The older she got, the faster time seemed to move. There were so many things that needed to be done, rules that needed to be followed, roles that needed to be played. Days blurred, as did phases, one into the other, not defined by hairstyles or braids or colors. So, so many things, and the days got shorter and time moved faster. She dreamed about closing herself off from the world, standing on her head and taking her long, silken hair and slowly braiding it, wrapping it around her body. A cocoon that would allow her to hang in an in-between phase, a hyphen, undefined as either an end or a beginning. A shell that would allow her to linger in dusk, after the end of the day and before the beginning of night. Or dawn. That’s what she wanted: to hang from that hyphen, looking both ways, to the left, at the capital letter beginning the sentence, to the right, the full-stop. And she, simply hanging from that bare limb, beautiful in its present now.

Alas! There was a greater distance between here and the story of how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly than there was between here and the final full-stop.

It was time. She jumped off the hyphen. She pressed forward. Moving towards the end. Beginning a new part. This time, with wings.

* Efrosini Camatsos was born in Mississippi, US, of Greek parents. Currently, she lives in Greece and she is completing her second novel. She received her BA in English from Wesleyan University, continued her graduate studies at the University of Oxford, and received her PhD in Modern Languages and Literature from the University of Cambridge.