Today I woke up and instantly felt anxious about money, finding an apartment (again!!!), the French language, and the near future. The near future being the day I have to renew my visa. I’m craving a clarity and stability that are not meant to be mine right now. So, I find myself thinking, over and over, about Rilke’s quote:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions.”
October has been one emotional month. The whole year has been a roller coaster. Something is changing. I don’t want to feel sad any more. I feel a desire to take care of myself, to feel pretty, to be joyous. These things were never completely gone from my being but it has been months since I felt 100% myself.
This morning I focused on the awesomeness ahead to shake off the hunger for answers, and I really felt it. That awesomeness would be pastry school and my birthday. I’m turning 39 in a day. I’m excited for a new year, and I’m feeling satisfied with difficult, brave, tear-filled, confusing 38. For so long I have been swimming in a sea of Bon Iver fueled melancholia, and now it feels like I’m shedding my skin. I’m starting to feel fierce again.
It’s crazy to think that two weeks ago when my mom came to visit I was a hot mess. I went to pick her up at the airport and cried on the RER all the way there. As soon as I saw her I fell into her arms crying. I was so sad and also incredibly happy to see her. Across a lengthy part of the airport and all the way back to Paris I expressed through the tears how angry I felt that things hadn’t worked out with with Leo. How frustrated I was with life. How guilty I felt for not enjoying Paris to its fullest. How ashamed I was for always loving deeply, and how stupid I was for making myself vulnerable in Italy.
Hashing all my troubles with my mom was calming. She spoiled me. We went to the Louvre. We bought perfume. We bought pastries all over town and had a little tasting party. We laughed. We watched stupid movies. We went to a strange and beautiful circus.
One day my mom said two things that I really needed to hear. She told me that my brother had brought up my break up and had said to her, I don’t know how she did it. Conjuring all her strength and with a lot of difficulty was her answer. It made me so proud that both my mom and my brother saw me and got me. So many people in my family have brushed off my break up by simple saying, he wasn’t right for you, which given how hard the decision was for me, how in love I was, and all the rest is incredibly belittling and disrespectful.
At one point I was telling her how much I missed our life together and she pointed out how much my life had changed for the better. Not because he wasn’t in it but because of the experiences I had had on my own. Being on my own I was going after things that I had never had before. If you would have stayed in your relationship, she said, your life would have been throwing dinner parties, collaging, going to acting class, and sometimes collaborating with Leo. Now you are actually working towards something. You found baking, you traveled to Italy, you moved to Paris. You would never had had any of that. She is right. My life would have been sweet but it would not over the years have felt fulfilling not in the way it does now.
The day my mom left my dad arrived. I guess it was family month in my life. Last christmas one of my sisters pointed out that the men I was usually crazy about were intelligent, interesting, charming, generous, and unavailable. By unavailable she meant not completely there for me. Then she asked me who it reminded me of. I knew she was right but here in Paris I saw it so clearly. I saw the loveliness that my dad brought to my life but also the ways he had failed me as a parent over the years. How ridiculously critical he was in unnecessary ways among other things. I noticed how much I drink when I’m around my dad, how I never want to disappoint him, and how he never sees me. To a large extent my dad has no idea who I am even though I have never kept from him anything about myself.
Ever since the summer I had been feeling these waves of anger that are unfamiliar to me. The time with my dad, though at times fun and wonderful, unleashed some very old rage. It was painful. I don’t want to feel angry towards my dad. I still feel a little shell-shocked from the visit but it reminded me that I have to accept people as they are not as I wish they were, and that those who get me, get me, and those who don’t, well, that’s their problem. I don’t want to be a people changer or a people pleaser. It has taken me 38 years to arrive at all of that and often I forget. It is almost as hard as learning to live with the questions.
This afternoon, I was on my way to pick up a pretty dress from storage when I had this sudden feeling of well being. The metro was curving around the top of the canal. It was raining a little. I was listening to some of the cheesiest Spanish pop the nineties had to offer, and I felt such a deep appreciation for my life, for the bangs and the bruises, the moments of sorrow and unease. I don’t know what changed but suddenly the heart ache, the sadness for the hoped for but not attained, seemed miles away. The anger is still there but I hardly ever feel angry. I’m going to guess feeling angry right now- probably a good thing. More than anything what I’m starting to feel is clarity. Clarity!!! I’m on an adventure! Great things are happening. Great things have happened. They do not need to be perfect, fuzzy, or wrapped in bows. They can be crooked and have edges. Ha!