Antonella’s bag is tiny. But he is able to contain the emotional possibility, not to mention the certainty, that Leo is going to cry at the press conference. And that, therefore, you will need tissues. Emotional work materializes in your hands. Was Leo not able to foresee it? Probably, yes, hey, it is known. But, how can the always unsightly clincher block fit into that narrow and also tiny suit? He didn’t because he probably had Antonella’s bag. That bag is an extension of himself and his own family. And it’s nice not to end up in yourself. Have other extensions of your own body. To depend.
I am also Antonella, we are all or have been Antonella. I leave the house with a backpack that fits all the needs of my family in addition to my own. I bring water, something to eat, spare masks, diapers, of course, (size 3 and size 5), wipes, a muslin to soften rocky surfaces and diaper ointment. Protect, cushion, clean. I also carry paracetamol (who knows?), Gum for seasickness and my prescription glasses. Anticipate, calculate, weigh. And sunscreen. Obvious. This summer, rushing through the prerogatives that breastfeeding entails within a more or less equal straight couple, I tried to leave the house as I have seen so many men do for generations before me. To body. With what is on (implies baby in arms). For once in my life I threw myself into the void. I took the risk of not organizing, anticipating, supervising, correcting, or leading the family hot spot that summer packing involves each year. I did not check the weather to come, I did not predict stops or food, drinks or fruits, I did not imagine inhospitable apartments or suns of justice. I just put on my tight suit and fearlessly walked out to the holiday press conference. For a day, I was Leo instead of Antonella. Accessing that lightness was somewhat unsettling for me, but as an experiment it did not fail. My family survived without my domestic engineering deployment. There were forgetfulness, mismatched socks, stops at gas stations to fill holes, processed food. But nobody died.
The next day, in the pool, I notice the Antonella towel of the couple in front of me. On top of her huddle her body and that of two grown-up and wet creatures. The towel is presided over by a large basket, the magic object, Mary Poppins bag from which they emerge and disperse: a purse with loose money and her and the children’s health cards, card games, a tablet, towels for everyone, a charger, dry replacement bathing suits, change of clothes, books of various ages and genders, a plastic bag that will serve as garbage, flip-flops of different sizes, house and car keys, ripe bananas and crushed cookies for an eventual snack. And sunscreen. Lots of sunscreen. Obvious. Antonella constantly interacts with that familiar Pandora’s box, domestic aleph. Beside him, Leo listens to something very concentrated with wireless headphones, his cell phone in hand, and his ass on a meager and dry towel. Look at the horizon. It is abstracted. It transcends. Leo’s towel is like an island, Antonella’s is an archipelago. and thus, for the moment, the gears of life and vacations are turning, sometimes squeaking but usually greased in silence so that things continue without major complications. For some.
Check the size and ownership of the bags of the families around you this summer. The weight and the size of the pockets, the mandates and the tasks distributed by gender within each clan. Discover Leos and Antonellas. Be one day who cries and another who passes the clinex. How nice it would be if that gesture and the weight of taking care of the bags were universal values. In the meantime, let’s offset the loads on the pool bags.