Archive for the joie de vie Category

Someone’s knocking at the door

Posted in 37, friends, joie de vie with tags , , , on October 14, 2011 by ana

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.



Posted in joie de vie with tags on December 11, 2010 by ana

Outside of my parents, my sisters, my cousin, and my closest friends (in proximity and spirit) I haven’t really told anyone about the split. Yesterday my sister told me that my aunt had asked her about the break up and how I was doing. At first when my sister told me, it gave me a lot of anxiety, this breakup has sort of been on a need to know basis. As in I need to tell you. I only want to talk about it when I want to talk about it. Sometimes I’m miserable and I need to let it out. Other times I’m having a good day and it’s the last thing I want to talk about.

At first I couldn’t figure out how my aunt found out. Then my other sister said she slipped up and said I wasn’t doing well when my aunt just asked how I was. She assumed she meant about the break up. My aunt then called my other sister to get the scoop. That sister said that it was hard but that I was doing great. Perspective is such an interesting thing. Doing well doesn’t exclude feeling devastated and an immense amount of loss. Doing well means I’m taking it one day at a time, riding the ups and the downs, trying to find the magic in things, and firmly moving forward.

At first I was miffed that my aunt knew. I just don’t want people saying things that will irk or hurt me in unexpected ways. Not that she will but I’m feeling very protective of myself and I don’t wan to hear to many- you deserve better or he wasn’t right for you. They don’t help in my specific situation. Yes, I deserve better. Yes, he wasn’t right for me in the end but I can’t negate all the ways in which it was right. I don’t want to hear bad things about Leo. He wasn’t bad. It wasn’t toxic. I know the short coming of my relationship. I was in it.

On the other hand, when people express disbelief and sadness. When people say he’s a fool. that feels accurate and good. Last night I went out with Jay, a friend who I am very fond of. He is visiting LA, and staying with a very wealthy friends in the hills somewhere. He picked me up in the fanciest car I have probably ever sat on. Everything inside was soft and plush. Everything was either wood or leather. We went to the Hungry Cat and had a lovely dinner. My friend Danielle made me the most delicious drink with tequila, lime, simple syrup and chili powder. We shared some oysters, hamachi and a grouper with spicy dates. We talked about Leo, about Miami, about dreams, about old friends. We both went to the same small school for awhile. My entire school pre-k through 12 had maybe 350 students, and over the years I have found that the greatest legacy that school has left me is how close you always feel to people who went there even if you didn’t know them first hand.

Jay is perhaps one of the loveliest people I know. He’s kind, warm, and fun. He has a sadness in his eyes that I always find appealing in people especially if they, like Jay, also have incredible joie de vie. When I told him about Leo he just kept saying- I’m sorry. And when he drove me home he said a few times, I know in six months your are going to be great. I said, I hope so. He said, I know so.

When I got home I started unpacking some things and then started to feel a little sad. I think the sadness was heightened by the drinks and getting my period. My friend F. who is staying with me for the weekend was still out on a date and I ate some cookies even though I had dessert with Jay.

In the end perhaps it’s for the best that my aunt knows. I’m spared of having to tell everyone the news when they ask how Leo is.

My three dads

Posted in joie de vie with tags , on October 19, 2010 by ana

Somewhere amidst the doom and gloom I have found this small pocket of internal happiness. Maybe it’s just that feeling that no matter what everything is going to be okay.

Yesterday, I had lunch with my cousin. We went, as we did last year for my birthday, to Pinot Bistro. In many ways it felt like we were in the restaurant scene of a movie- the large flower arrangements, the crisp white tablecloths, the dark wood paneling and the mirrors along the wall. Two different sets of posh ladies ate to our sides. The older set had burgers, the younger one salads. An elegant older woman sat at one end of the restaurant only to find out, after waiting for awhile, that her lunch date, a dapper senior, was waiting for her tucked away at another table.

I always enjoy lunch with my cousin immensely. In this crazy, twisty life I have been blessed with three men who have treated me like their daughter. The first, my real dad-a man whose company and conversation I very much enjoy. My stepdad who was one of my number one champions and whose joyful voice when answering the phone I dearly miss. My cousin has been the third.

My cousin has lived in LA all of my life and I only saw him once or twice growing up. He and my mom grew up in adjoining houses and she always told me stories about them growing up but I never really knew him before I moved here. I spent two years living at his house. Those two years were really lovely and healing for me. I moved here from NY a year after September 11th and there was this sweet, overwhelming feeling of being tucked away while I lived with him. He is the man who always asks about my tires and the breaks in my car. He is the man who put locks in the window of my old Hollywood apartment.

Today at lunch he said- I think you are going to end up leaving LA. I never thought you would because the man you love was here but if that ends you may leave. I wont lie that thought has popped in my head a lot lately. Would I go home? What would I do there? Open a bakery with my dad? Or would I go back to NY. Maybe I would just stay put.

The thought of not seeing my cousin regularly for lunch made me very sad. I very much enjoy talking about our family and about books and films with him. His dad and my grandma where brother and sister. Since my grandmother passed away earlier this year no one is left of that generation. My grandmother was a feisty woman with an incessant joie de vie. I know I have her spirit of perseverance and that is perhaps what is inside that pocket of happiness.