Towards the end of my adventure, I felt a tiny bit nervous about returning home to a familiar life with a future unknown. Again, as if destiny were the theme of 2015, things worked out quite brilliantly and the transition back was smooth and pain free.
And that’s where my story took a turn for the worse. Not surprisingly, I felt the storm brewing in the last days of the year – I was anxious and not at all excited to say goodbye to what had been the absolute best year of my life. I had an inkling that what lay ahead would require the bravery that was generously bestowed upon me when least deserved.
It’s been a battle. Every day feels like a new fight. To get out of bed. To find the motivation to live out my true dreams. To make the day count. To make the year stand for something other than complete confusion. Inside I feel defeated. It feels like everything that gave me value in my past life has been stripped from me. I feel worthless. Which is a feeling I can just barely tolerate. What’s too much to bear most days is the sense that I’ve got myself so mixed up in this maze called life that I can’t find my way back to me. It’s like I’m stuck in a labyrinth in the dead of darkness and I’m waiting to see a glimmer of light. It’s been the longest night of my life, so it seems, but I’m still here. But what’s neverendingly beautiful in the midst of this delirium is that life isn’t going to make it easy for me by leading me back to my old self. That’s cheating, and every last one of us can do better than taking the shortcut to our becoming. I’ve got to pave my own way through this damn darkness and in the process I’m transforming into a better, stronger, braver me.
Perhaps its fitting with Valentine’s Day, but February has been most interesting on the love front. For starters, history tells me that I’ve got a penchant for the unavailable. Fleeting attention is my jam. If you live halfway across the world and reach out only once in a blue moon, chances are I will morph into a hopelessly devoted. I’m a sucker for pleasure (and concomitant pain). I want to suffer, burn for my love. It feels awkward, unnatural, if its delivered to my doorstep wrapped in Tiffany blue and accompanied by roses. When it happens the way it should, my instinct tells me to let it alone. Meanwhile, I’m going all kinds of crazy over him and him and him, all of whom make appearances in my life with the infrequency of the changing of seasons. I know it’s unfulfilling in the long-term, but still, it’s incredible how many times I can re-play our last love story in my mind, each time remembering a new detail like it happened just yesterday. Somehow it keeps me going over the extended periods of no contact. It feels like home. Clearly, unavailability is my comfort zone.
So this year, I resolved to step outside it. Because I want real love. The kind that remembers your favorite flower and has it delivered to your office “just because.” The kind that drops everything to be there for you when you are going through a tough time and can’t stand to be alone. The kind that loves you for all the things you love about yourself, but are pretty sure no one else notices. The kind that wakes you up in the middle of the night to give good love and then holds you tight until morning.
I started off on the right track, at least it would seem. I limited my dating pool to men who live within a 50 mile radius of my home and who were unencumbered. I was feeling confident about the prospect of something real. But then, the universe went and threw me a curve ball – someone from my past who most definitely did not live within a 50 mile radius of my home. And then another. And another. So I took a swing at them all. (The heart wants what it wants). And just like that, I found myself back to my old ways, back to my old woes.
And now here I am, lying in bed on a Tuesday night, insomnia threatening to steal the night away from me like a good lover, wondering if this is a test, if I’m perpetually undeserving of the love I desire because every time I’m given the opportunity to not mess it up, I somehow manage to do exactly that. If it is, it seems I’ve pulled the ‘Go to Jail’ card in monopoly (do not pass go, do not collect $200). But then again, maybe the real lesson of love is that we are meant to make the same mistakes over and over again until someone comes into our life who inspires us to make it right this time? After all, we are imperfect humans, every last one of us. We have hearts that lead us astray time and time again. But at the end of this journey, we don’t get a special accolade for playing by the rules, for saying no to the wrong temptations, for closing ourselves off to the beautiful feelings that are borne even from mistakes. We don’t get anything at all except the opportunity to look back at our experiences and realize that we’ve grown from them. And growth doesn’t prejudice itself to right. In fact, most of the time, it would seem the opposite is true. So I’ve probably made about twenty mistakes this month alone. Of course, I know better now, but no matter how hard I try, my heart keeps sending me back to dance with hope – the dream that maybe this time will be different. So I failed the test. But fuck, it was good – it always is. And maybe next time will be different.
Free People skirt, tank, shirt, Chloe bag, Ray-Ban sunnies
I was really hoping for a rainy winter in Southern California because we are in desperate need of water, but for the past week, we’ve been hit with a heat wave – and I mean heat wave! Since its feeling like summer, I thought I’d post these photos I took this past fall in Joshua Tree, because well, this is how we dress for February in these parts! Have a good week loves!
Last summer, in a swimming pool on a rooftop in Istanbul, I met an older American gentleman who was loaded with interesting tidbits of information about life, love, and the female/male dynamic. The conversation flowed naturally, so though I had no interest in him, and he was technically a complete stranger in a foreign country thousands of miles away from home, when he offered to be my tour guide for the rest of my Turkey trip, I gladly accepted. The next day, he swooped me up from my hotel on his Vespa and so the adventure began.
In another life, I would have coldly engaged in conversation for a few minutes, and then excused myself to play around on my phone. In this new life, I allowed myself the privilege – yes, privilege – of openness, and as a result, a friendship naturally ensued. I said yes to him. Because it seemed more exciting than saying no. Turned out, it was. Turns out, it almost always is.
In the past year, the best moments of my life were had on the whim of a yes. To call it accidental would be unfair – saying yes to anything and everything was a resolution I made for 2015 (see here). I ate snails in Paris at the urging of the most handsome Australian who I’d met only hours before. I traveled to Northern Africa alone, after much debate about the safety implications of doing so, and discovered a magical little gypsy world I would have never known existed if I gave way to fear. I escaped to Rome for a quick 24 hours to meet a former lover who would break my heart one last time. I flew to Mexico with a group of Aussies I barely knew to snorkel in a cave full of bats – and I’m terrified of bats! I jumped into a shark cage in Cape Town. And then gladly grabbed the reins of a parachute after launching off of Lions Head. I fell in love. Then I fell in love again. I made dozens of new friends in the most unlikely of places. And by years end, when I was deciding what my resolution would be for this year – I made a resolution for life instead. Because yes turned out better than I could have ever expected. Even when my limbs were flailing outside the shark cage while pushing myself up to the surface, it never once crossed my mind that it was a bad idea. Even after the night I didn’t get a wink of sleep because the yes that led to falling in love led to what felt like the last heartbreak this many times broken little muscle in my chest could endure. Even though that slimy French snail wasn’t a smooth swallow.
This first month of 2016 has not been easy. Most days, an anxiety attack seems a foregone conclusion. I’ve learned it takes a lot of damn courage to get out of bed every day when you’re living life on the fringes of the absolute unknown. You take for granted certainty, until it’s a thing of the past. But with certainty comes safety comes comfort (something like the road well-traveled) – a mediocrity that swallows up tomorrow before today is even done. And that other thing, uncertainty? I can tell you this much. There is a huge world of adventure hanging about immediately adjacent to that little ‘s’ in yes. And that is an uncertainty I’m happy to welcome, even if it means almost daily anxiety attacks about the rest. The takeaway is quite simple, my loves. Just say yes.
New Year’s Eve was a tough one for me this year. Last year, I rang in the New Year knowing full well that I was leaving my job in a few months and moving to Paris, a plan which I executed brilliantly. Let’s be honest – when Paris is in your immediate future, there’s no way you can be glum. This year, however, I felt melancholic all day. Mostly because I don’t have a plan, but I know it’s time to stop running away from life. The time has come for me to settle down and stand still for a minute and stop talking about figuring things out and start doing it. Right now, life feels like a puzzle. The universe has given me all the pieces and I’m sitting, staring at them dumbfoundedly, trying to figure out where to start. I’ve been here before and I know the first step is the hardest and once you start moving, you’re on your way. And I even know exactly where I need to start – which piece comes first (the corner of course). But still! You can’t help the fright, anxiety, frozenness that comes over you when you’re embarking on something new and different. You just kind of have to close your eyes and dive in deep, comforted by the knowledge that you know how to swim, and that’s something you can’t lose, ever. It’s like breathing, living. So no more putting it off until tomorrow. Today is day 1. Happy swimming. Oh, and Happy New Year too my loves!