Through a friend of a friend I was offered the apartment for the 2 weeks. It was located on the 11th floor of a tower block in the Providencia district in the centre of Santiago. Tower C was the second-highest of four rectangular concrete blocks, which together delineated a central square. The complex and the adjoining park had been built in the 1960s in the minimalist architectural style typical of the time. From the small side room to the left I could see Tower D, the upper floors of which disappeared from view due to its proximity. On the right was Tower B, the lowest of the four; lying on a flank, solid, reliable. Across the square stood the tallest tower, Tower A, all floors of which could be seen because of the distance. It moved me translating its height into metres (84), counting the floors (28), as well as the number of years these towers had stood here (51) and the number of earthquakes they had withstood during that time (several dozen). When I got out of bed in the morning, pressed my nose against the bedroom window and let my gaze descend along the façade to the ground far below, a twisting movement started in my guts, which only stopped if I raised my eyes again to a point halfway up Tower A. This effect was amplified when I was standing naked in the bathroom, a towel over my shoulders, looking down into the void. My bare feet touched the tiles of the central square and my crown reached up to the satellite dishes on the roof of Tower C. My insides were pulled apart and an intense fear of the distance within me took over. Yet every morning I was drawn to the windows like a trapped fly, and I willingly laid my forehead against the glass, as if to reconfirm time and again the incomparable depth within myself before starting the day.
Chunks of foam grew around me. A sweet, pungent smell of glue pervaded the flat and robbed me of my appetite. The body turned out to be many times bigger than myself. Polystyrene parts, buckets and brushes lay everywhere on a layer of plastic that protected the concrete floor. The numbers and the instruction lines on each body part formed an ironic signpost in the chaos that had manifested itself in the living room; as if following these numbers would eventually offer a way out. In the evening, I sat on the couch with a plate of food on my lap, surrounded by a forest of whimsical shapes that blocked my view. As soon as the sun went down and the sky behind the sliding doors to the balcony turned from pink to violet to dark blue, the shapes took on an even more urgent presence, until, in the intimacy of the evening, I was swallowed whole by the body.
I surrendered to Precision Strike’s online tutorials; he motivated with the concrete promise of 10 minutes of uninterrupted jumping within 20 days. Soon I noticed that the attraction I felt to his regime was not so much tied with this final goal, which he so often referred to in his pep talks, but that the 2-minute YouTube moment before breakfast briefly sidetracked me; the jumping up and down and the twisting of my arms seemed to be a way of building up a bond of trust between me and Tower C. The reckless bouncing on the 11th floor felt like when, in a vulnerable conversation with someone dear to you, the words have already detached themselves from your insides, you want to see them land but at the same time you look away, too frightened to see the result of the blow and you therefore toss them to the other person, seemingly without thinking, like rough matter, still formless but at the same time the most precious thing you have, which, if you could, you would keep pressed against the warmth of your own chest forever, while deep down inside you know that you have already had to say goodbye to that thing you were in a rudimentary stage, still childlike, something that may never come back and which the other person may reject because of ignorance or, even worse, may unscrupulously bounce back at you and which you then, despite all feelings of regret, disappointment and disillusionment, try to make whole again, on your knees, picking up the pieces of what you once were in your purest form, now no longer your own but passed through the other and then discarded, unnoticed, forever floating in the twilight world between you and others. In this morning ritual, Tower C showed itself to be an adamant friend, willing to absorb the forces of my jumping up and down, but this relationship also had to be reaffirmed every day.
The headline from Paris was not that the King of Clay would likely take the trophy home again, but that former champion Djokovic seemed to be a shadow of his former self. According to the latest reports, this was due to a recent elbow operation. Insiders knew, however, that this minor procedure could never fully explain the unprecedented inaccuracy of a man who had been the embodiment of precision for seasons. The machine was out of order: the service faltered, the backhand down the line missed its target, wild forehands regularly landed in the tramlines. I looked on with a mixture of sympathy and satisfaction, which may have had something to do with magical thinking; how much precision is there in the world and would it be distributed more evenly this way? Meanwhile I practised dry - Precision Strike advised me to start without a rope - on the concrete floor of the flat. Eye to eye with the slightly bowed head on the screen, which buried itself wearily in a towel in between a first and second serve, I jumped side to side like a boxer, twisting my arms. I felt my heart rate rise and my breathing quicken, protected by the polystyrene loins of the body-in-the-making. It turned out to be surprisingly complicated coordinating the lower and upper halves of my body independently; when I was finally allowed to handle the rope, I whipped myself repeatedly, so that my legs were covered in red welts within a short time. The quarter-finals were the final stop - an inaudible sigh stirred up the red dust on Court Philippe-Chatrier at game-set-and-match: was this perhaps the End? I, too, had to stop my apprenticeship with Precision Strike in the final assembly phase of the body, due to a stabbing pain in my right calf which had suddenly flared up.
During the last days of my stay in Tower C, the body had assumed such proportions that it was impossible to carry it down in the lift. With my aching lower leg, I lifted the heady pieces down the stairs, repeating a certain choreography at each turn so as not to get caught behind the beams in the ceiling or the banisters. Descending the spiral staircase following the rhythm of the steps felt like a journey into the inner ear of Tower C. It was like an intimate farewell, briefly entering into a physical relationship with each floor of the building. After several passages through the stairwell, all the parts were assembled on the ground floor. For a brief moment, I paused at the foot of Tower C to catch my breath and contemplated the scene; an extraterrestrial life form, crashed on the tiles, its grotesque limbs wildly scattered across the central square. Around it, like silent sentinels, stood the four tower blocks A, B, C and D. Don't think they won't always be there.