“I would like to see you again”. With that note, which ended up being the cover of the photobook about a breakup, the relationship between Paula Tudela and her boyfriend, Fer, a German, began in 2018. They met in 2016, at an electronic music festival “in the middle of nowhere”, a long hour from Berlin. He was 24 years old and she was 20. They both wore the same jacket and had a mutual friend. They didn’t talk much that day, but they had both noticed each other. “I remembered you,” she writes. Two years later, at the same festival, they met again. “And I kissed you. It was an explosive night.” The next day, Paula discovered the note in her backpack. And two years later, they broke up. give then (the end, in Spanish) is a compilation of short texts and photos about their relationship, as well as the method that helped its author overcome the separation: sharing it.
“It was total therapy,” explains Tudela, who is now 26 years old. “At that time I was doing a master’s degree in Photography and Editorial Design in Barcelona and I didn’t feel capable of writing a book of beautiful things. For months, my duties when I got home consisted of looking at all the photos with my ex, selecting them and crying. She kept the bracelets from the festival that they both returned to for four years; that note from him in the backpack, and the first gift he gave her when she moved to Berlin to live with him: a notebook in which Fer had written down everything he wanted to do with it, leaving the page on the right free for his girlfriend incorporated a photo as they were fulfilling those plans: “phototour. We are going to discover Berlin and take lots of photos”; “I want to go to Bavaria with you. I am going to show you the mountains, the secret places of Munich, nature, and you are going to meet my family…”.
Paula also kept all the notes she wrote after the breakup, to better understand each other, like one in which she underlined a word in pencil, “hate”, and says: “This will be our secret from now on. I still think about you. Don’t tell them that she would have chosen you again, that I would have moved to Berlin again for you; that I still hope that our children are blonde like you were when you were little” (…) I wish you were here with me. Maybe I wouldn’t hate you as much as I do sometimes.”
When they met, he lived in Madrid, had just graduated in Audiovisual Communication and worked in a theater casting. He reminds her in the book: “From there, our connection grew stronger. Romantic messages and video calls were part of our routine. We visited each other whenever we could. Living in different countries was not ideal, but it made the trips that much more special.” The texts of das ende they are that short, bursts of words accompanied by images that illustrate a moment or a sensation, in this case, the captures of the wasap that were sent when they were 2,300 kilometers away.
It was in 2019 when she decided to go to Berlin. “We did almost all the plans that he had written down for me in that notebook, although I printed the photos on the pages that he had left free for that and pasted them when we had already broken up,” she says. “Photography was one of our common interests so we took a lot of pictures of us together and each other separately.” She is especially fond of the opening note of their relationship, that simple, direct and honest “I would like to see you again” and another, later on, in which he writes to her with a red marker: “Paulita, my love: I can’t wait to be with you again. I have fallen in love with you these last two days and my future says Paula in big, red and capital letters. She is the one that she has reread the most times. “When I do, I’m like, ‘Wow, we were in love.’
In Berlin, she went to work as a photographer freelancing, as an assistant to another photographer and in an analog photography store. But she explains to him in the book: “Moving there had a bigger impact than I expected. I felt lost and uncomfortable and our constant fights and misunderstandings only made it worse. We still did a lot of nice things together, but was that really what I wanted?
In the following pages some images of those good moments are collected, such as the frames of a video that a friend recorded of them embracing each other in the subway after they both had dinner with her parents in Berlin. In August 2019, the festival where they had met announced its latest edition. “The initials of the festival were ND, like hence, end in german Perhaps it was a sign of our near future”.
In March 2020 they took their last trip together, to the beach. “But lust and frustration were part of our language.” “In June 2020 you broke up with me.” Paula thanks him today: “When I made the book, I realized how bad our relationship was going. When you’re so in love or so hooked, you stop recognizing what’s wrong. I was not capable of making the decision and he made it for both of us”.
Paula then exposes the photographs and notes that express everything she felt from that moment on: “I missed you, I despised you, I forgave you, I regretted everything and I wanted to call you again.” Where did you end up? Where did I start?” She went to her parents’ house, to see her albums when she was little, to reread old diaries. “The relationship had absorbed me in such a way that when it broke up I had to not only forget about him, but to remind myself, who she was before I met him,” she recounts.
The final pages collect their last exchange of emails, in December 2020, with entire sentences crossed out except for single words: “forgiven”, “loved”, “reproaches”; “painful”, “fights”, “mature”; “friendship”, “still”. Also a post it in which she wrote: “If we ever meet again, will you promise I won’t be able to smell you the way I used to?” And another note that says: “At least, ignoring each other we still do something together.” She asks him: “Will our history repeat itself with similar sentiments and a different name? Who will replace you?” And he says goodbye, further on: “Now that time and distance have made each one follow their path, I no longer feel the need to answer any of those questions: What was and what was not. What is not. This is my story, but also my closure. Thanks for making me feel.”
Paula has presented the photobook in Madrid, Barcelona, New York and Berlin, the cities where she has lived. “In the end I always ask the public to ask themselves what they would say to her ex and write it down in a post it. I have many, written in Spanish, Catalan, English and German. Some are funny: ‘Your mouth tasted like kebab and I’m a vegetarian’. Others very sad: ‘They say that getting over someone takes the same time as the relationship lasted. What do I do then, still thinking of you?
When he went to Berlin to present give then a few days ago he saw Fer. “The match was a bit intense, but it was good. He already knew about the book because when I finished it I sent it to his house. He sent me a very nice message saying that he was very proud that he did it. Once I recovered and remembered who I was, I realized that I didn’t want to put him down or present myself as a hero, because it hurt me, but it also made me feel.” Paula has protected her image – her face never appears completely – and her anonymity – the last name of her ex is not said at any time -.
The note—“I’d like to see you again”—is still perfect. Deserving of the cover of a book that today is sold in bookstores and museums and deserving —also— of a good memory.