By Yamilet Ortega
“bloom in” is a very serious piece, which is different from how I usually write and act. But it represents me. I took the piece and thought about all the videos and photos I had of myself, my family and my friends, and it was like two sides of me. The me that is figuring out who I am and questioning it all, and the me that shows my face every day.
Growing up in a conservative and religious Hispanic household, certain things I went through were never explained to me. This piece speaks about my thoughts and feelings as I bloomed and went through big changes alone. She watched herself become a woman. Her waist forms dips, she is unsure of what to call them. The dips hug her hips tightly. And below her hips are the thighs that had grown bigger. Chunky, chunky they are. Leaving no space on the chair she sat on during dinner. Hair covered them, a knitted blanket on the coldest day of winter. They stick close to each other on the hottest days, and snuggle up to her chest on the coldest. They are hers. Her face has small red bumps. She questions their existence. Squeezing them only makes it worse. That she learned quickly. She doesn’t recognize anything. Her chest forms cushions she had only seen women on TV have. The cushions pushed down her stomach rolls, she now grew more aware of. Different. She knows she is. Weird. A word used to describe the aroma of caldo de panza her mom cooked on the coldest nights. Was now being used to describe herself. It amazed her that the word hurt her so much. Every night, she stayed up all night, Googling “what’s wrong with my body” only to grow insecure of it all. She cradled herself to bed at night. Her mother watched the girl, struggling to find answers. Her father noticed her move away. But they remained silent. Because even they didn’t know how to explain it all. Hurting. Hurting I was.
I have all of these movies of myself and my friends and family, and I was going to just edit them together. When my mentor read my piece, “bloom in,” she suggested I add a voiceover of myself reading the piece to the movie to show the difference between how I live my life and how I feel. I used iMovie to edit the piece and made all the clips in black and white so they looked cohesive.
Meet the Pair
MENTEE YAMILET ORTEGA & MENTOR HEATHER STRICKLAND
Yamilet’s Anecdote: Heather and I wrap our last year together at Girls Write Now with a bond that I will always hold dear to me. We grew closer during these past two years and I thank her for everything and every piece of advice she gave me. I will remember our afternoons at random cafés, drinking coffee and spending hours just talking. Those were the best. The gallery walks, scones, ceramic paintings, and writing we did together will always hold a special place in my heart because of you. I hope we remain close even after Girls Write Now!
Heather’s Anecdote: Yamilet and I are a lot alike. We are both on the quiet side when you first meet us, which means that it took a while for us to bond. But two years later we are so close. I am incredibly proud of how much she has grown as a writer and as a person, and I will always hold our relationship close to my heart. Sharing coffee, watching movies, walking the High Line, painting ceramics—so many memories, made so much better, thanks to our bond. I can’t wait to see what’s next for her, and us!
Yamilet Ortega is a class of 2020 Girls Write Now mentee based in New York, NY.