1 year ago today, I was crossing the French-UK border at the Eurostar customs in Gare du Nord, embarking on an intrepid new life in a (relatively) foreign country. The life didn’t last very long and the thrill dissipated just as quickly but I’m still proud of the risks I took and the accomplishments I made. I also consider myself lucky that I got to experience those tumultuous times with somebody I loved. There’s nothing like getting food poisoning and alternating shifts in the bathroom with your significant other in a dirty flat in South London.
When I came back just a little less than 3 months later, I got caught up in the judicious void of housewifery and domicility (and I wasn’t very good at either). It was never a conscious thing. I was excited to have a place of our own; I was looking forward to being conventional with Craig since up until then, our relationship had consisted of 2.5 years of dating long distance followed by 4 months of cohabitation with my crazy mother, and then the atypical disruption of picking up everything and moving to the UK (and living with 4 other people). Craig was my first boyfriend and when we started dating I guess I had fashioned this unconscious ideal of what a good girlfriend was supposed to be. Over the years, as is wont to happen with elusive ideals – whether intentional or not – I failed to live up to them. And I realized that I’d inadvertently abandoned all the things I once loved to be a person whom I thought could be worthy of someone else’s love.
I felt like I’d strapped myself into a straight jacket, chained myself to a chair, and just watched my life unfold before me like the world’s dullest Housewives spin-off as I remained immobile and inert to the life around me. If you look at my old posts, even the ones dating to late last year, you will be reading the stories of a completely different person, of someone who was so falsely entranced with what she thought she wanted rather than someone who – and pardon the Stones cliche – already had what she needed.
Some wise words from Brody Dalle of The Distillers:
It hit me. I got everything I need.
I got freedom and my youth.
And that’s really all a 25-year-old needs, isn’t it? Youth and freedom. My parents would argue that one always needs money (regardless of age) and although I find myself agreeing with them to a certain extent, I believe that most people who have money know nothing of youth and freedom whereas one can be young, free, and have no money but still feel like the richest person in the world.
Shortly before our California sojourn, all the things that plague those with even the heartiest of spirits and the sturdiest of fortitude – doubt, loneliness, happiness, responsibility, power, love – didn’t seem to matter anymore. Even though our road trip in California consisted of really short legs and way too much Dr. Pepper to warrant a real spiritual excursion, there was something about the cool desert air coupled with the blistering SoCal sun while moving at 75m/hr in a vehicle that wasn’t mine that just continued to further erode all the worries I’d cultivated over the last 8 months. It’s not as if those anxieties have vanished; it’s more that for the time being, they have puttered off with the truancy of an adolescent boy or a sand dune in the wind.
After a while, they all return.
I don’t believe in permanent bliss. I barely even believe in a soft notion of temporary happiness. I think happiness is just a period of time when you can’t remember being sad. But I spent the first half of my twenties bewitched by the most sterile of human preoccupations: vanity, weddings (but rarely marriage), money, and at one point, even children, and now I want to make up for it. (Fortunately those other vainglorious milestones of ones twenties – promiscuity, substance abuse, and the over-placement of importance on tenuous friendships – I already experienced to the fullest when I was in my teenage years). I just want to do things for myself while I’m still young and free.
Which brings me to my next adventure.
A real road-trip in Europe. Just me, a map, and the open road. I’m still at the nascent stages of planning so I don’t know when I’ll leave or for how long I’ll be there. All I know is I want to go.