But we also celebrate our mothers, grandmothers, friends, and colleagues. And it is important to have this day because - and I am so sad to say this - only some decades ago women were not celebrated nor appreciated. I admire women for their courage to be vulnerable, to endure more than people expect them to, to fight for what they love. Let me talk to you about four women that shaped who I am.
Her name is Paraskevi or in English, Friday! And she truly is the “Friday” of my “week”. The day that gives you strength for the rest of the week. All problems seem lighter because she is there to bring you joy. My grandmother half-raised me. She used to wake me up, make my breakfast, do my hair, tell me two or three fairy tales because I wouldn’t eat. And she would make all the voices of the characters. Red riding hood, the huntsman, the wolf. She could become everything. She was a flower in my desert. A stable person that would care for me consistently. And this was such a big deal for me. Her songs in the morning, her dancing as she was cooking, her love for her garden, her warm hug. I owe her such a big portion of my mental health. And she didn’t have it easy. She grew up in poverty, in a family where boys deserved to eat more just because they were boys. She took care of many sick people and experienced things I can’t begin to describe. Yet she decided that these things wouldn’t bring her down. She taught me to draw my own rainbow in the middle of the rain.
Her name is Eleftheria or in English, freedom! And she gave me the freedom to become whatever I wanted. My mother is nothing like a traditional mom. She never prohibited anything to me or put a strict curfew or used her authority to “protect” me. She never had an opinion of what I should be in life, which profession to follow, how to cut my hair. She trusted me to make my own decisions and be trustworthy, and this is what she got. I never betrayed her trust and she always learned the news from me. I have a deep connection with my mother, we don’t judge or fight, life has been fighting us a lot and we decided to be a team. We have been supporting each other in happiness and sickness and she is definitely the strongest person I know. Now let me tell you, strong and sensitive at the same time, makes an amazing person. She never cared about money or clothes and she is that angel that helps people in need. An elderly man that wanted some papers, a girl with anorexia that lost a deadline for applying for college, a poor family. She taught me to fight for what is right and reassured me that I am braver than I think.
My best friend
She hates photos, so this is as close as I got.
We have the same name, Anastasia, or in English, resurrection. And she really has seen me falling, fading and then being reborn out of my ashes. We met when we were seven, so practically she has lived every version of me, every hardship, every happiness. And she has been there all along, loyal, trustworthy, consistent. It is incredible how much time she has spent listening to my worries, without complaining and always believing in me. She is rare, a calm and quiet power. She cares about people, animals, the planet and she is kind but also revolutionary. She tells me how she is going to bring gifts to my children in the future and how we are going to grow old together and mess around like two, crazy grandmothers. She taught me that I don’t have to be perfect. That the right people will love me together with my wounds, scars and flaws.
My Erasmus lucky-charm
I met Constanza on our first Erasmus trip in Cadiz. Since day one I knew we were going to be friends. We were the same kind of crazy. She is from Argentina, a truly free spirit. I remember us singing in the bus “Me gusta la mañana, me gustas tu” and sharing a mate tea. I remember preparing international dinners (ensalada rusa or empanadillas), dancing like crazy at parties, talking about our country’s history at 3 a.m., rocking this salsa class, travelling to England and staying at the house of a very nice old lady, watching a musical, not eating any traditional english food because we were broke. Constanza taught me to be a little bit more independent. To want to travel alone without it being weird or lonely. It is the most geographically distant friendship I ever had. Since we left our Erasmus city, Cordoba, we are thinking about how we can see each other again. When things are back to normal, Argentina will be my first travel destination. Surely a part of me is there with her.
I couldn’t be more grateful for these four, but also the rest of the incredible women in my life. They certainly make bad moments more bearable with their caring hearts and life more precious with their patience and humanity. Let us all celebrate today the women we love, and pray that they get what they deserve in life. Or even better, let us give them no less than that.