Someone’s knocking at the door

My friend Alicia is, among many other things, a yoga teacher. Sunday, after a very boring french lesson, I went to her apartment for lunch. We sat at her little table and ate sausages, salad, heirloom tomatoes, and olives flanked to one side by a statue of Durga. Alicia was tired from a week filled with teaching and driving, and I was feeling kind of blue, the way I often do when I don’t sleep well or I’ve partied too much. I think we were both feeling a little guilt for different reasons.

Being in her company, in her space, eating yummy food was recalibrating. Sometimes you just need your friends to reassure you that everything is okay, even if deep down you know it. At overwhelming times a little validation can go a long way.

Over the years Alicia’s home has become part treasure chest and part library. Everywhere I looked my eyes would land on something interesting- mythology books, an old Judy Blume paperback, a shelf filled with all the markers, pencils and pens imaginable, a huge vision board, an old suitcase filled with papers, collections of her favorite authors, little notes left for herself as reminders of dreams, vintage toys…

For dessert there were blueberries, strawberry biscuits and tea. Alicia said, “I think I want to give you your birthday present.”  She handed me a shopping bag. “This is for when you feel lonely in Paris. Or in LA,” she added.  Inside was a collection of all my favorite eighties movies- Can’t Buy Me Love, Some Kind of Wonderful, Flash Gordon. Hands down one of the best, sweetest gifts anyone has given me. I felt so loved and known.

Saturday night I went to a dinner party at my friend Rami’s house, on the way there I kept thinking- this has been the best year of my life- hard but really great. When Stevie showed up a little later she said, “this has been the best year of your life SO FAR”

My birthday is around the corner.  Birthdays are my preferred New Year’s celebration, a time to lovingly recall all that has transpired and to think about what you hope to accomplish in the coming year. There are three or four big reasons why this has been the best year of my life. One was the break-up. It is almost a year since Leo and I split. I have always thought that to get yourself over a break up you need a year. You need to live all the seasons and major holidays you lived with that person without them. While it pains me to write that this amazing year came in part from loving and leaving someone who I will always love and who will always live in my heart that was the turning point, the empty handed leap, as they say. Sometimes it’s still hard to wrap my head around that one but there is strength in both knowing that I could have such a satisfying relationship, that I could love and be loved and feel the magic of being in love, and there is beyond strength in knowing that I chose me. That through life’s twists and turns, and the logistics of navigating a life shared with someone else there came a time where the only choice that was true to everything I believed was to walk away, and I did it no matter how much it hurt.

What followed was in many ways the main reason I have had such a successful and rotund year.  I have been fed and nurtured by an amazing, eclectic group of friends who have been my shelter, my cheerleaders, my sounding board, and my laughter. More than at any other moment in my life I have thanked my lucky stars for them.

Then there was therapy and my seven-month workshop, which was a journey in and of its self.  Much like with the break up, I grasp that something life changing has occurred. I feel internally that I am now completely different, yet the same. I am stronger, closer to who I have always thought I could be. I also sense I am too close to the events to truly grasp their magnitude in my narrative. I get that this year has been a game changer but to what extent remains to be seen.

And then there was Italy and all the mayhem that ensued from traveling with my mom, my brother and his brood, going to cooking school in Puglia for a week, having a lovely fling, and ending up in the emergency room with my mom after she broke her wrist. I came back from my trip to Italy inspired in a way I hadn’t been in a long time or perhaps had ever been. Certainly the accumulation of all that had happened in the year led me there. The commitment to write regularly either in this blog or for myself led me there.  But something was sparked that led me to fall in love with things I’ve always loved- food, photographs, words.

The last two months have been fraught with ups and downs mostly of my own doing. When I started my therapy workshop I knew that when the time came, after the workshop ended, I would know what to do next. I trusted that completely and in time the decision and opportunity to go to Paris appeared. Soon after I decided on Paris all these voices and doubts started to pop up. Part of me worried about what I would do in Paris, part of me worried about what I would do after Paris, and part of me wished I was there already. Then the other day it just hit me- you will know, when the time is right, you will know the next step. Just do your work and don’t worry about what will happen four steps ahead.

This has been a year of great lessons that I work hard at remembering. I can only live the moment that I have right now. I have no control over outcome. I must let life live me.  The only control I have is the choice to surrender and trust, and to be picky with what, who and how I fill my day. I think Anne Lamott said it best:

There is nothing you can buy, achieve, own, or rent that can fill up that hunger inside for a sense of fulfillment and wonder. But the good news is that creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty.