Seeing as you have spent the better part of the last few months in your own company, here I am writing a letter to you. You are new me, reading about old you, the words penned by a version of yourself somewhere in between.
Take a deep breath. I am writing you on this day, June 20th. Your last day. Tomorrow, you will wake up early, do your best to carry all of your shit, and head out to Gare du Nord, to St. Pancras, to London.
You will have a day that is more bizarre than this one, in limbo, waiting to transit.
And before you know it, you will be on a plane back to the United States and, more disturbingly, away from the four months you've been privileged enough to experience, floating from country to country, across continents, from city to town to village by train, by plane, by bus, by boat.
You’re scared to go home.
It's troubling because tomorrow you will have to make decisions and plan for a future. This was a respite from the anxiety of it all. But you have to go back. You have to deal with deciding where to place your energy.
Now, when you feel like you are overwhelmed you can sleep. You can eat a croissant. You can terrorize the cat in your apartment, or you can just stomp through a door, any door, out, and walk for as long as you need until your breath slows. You have had the luxury of waiting yourself out.
Tomorrow, you will be closer to recalling what it feels like to jump into the deep end and swallow water.
But this is why you should remember it all. This is what I am giving you. A prick in the ass, a squeeze of the hand, a shot of pure oxygen so you can feel more light, so that you can carry the best of it with you always. Here are some words, some memories for you to read and read again until you believe that they are who you are.
Remember this morning? When you hoisted your pack, then your second pack, and then a canvas duffel bag, wobbling as you tried to balance what you have accrued as a woman of the world: vintage velour leotards, perfumes that promise clouds of jasmine, chocolates, books.
For this reason, wherever you are going, pack-light, be kind to your back. Do not overload. If you do, the journey will be miserable. Oh, how you will ache even in relief--not to mention, dread going somewhere new while lugging such a burdensome weight. And if you are in it for the long haul, which I think you always will be, you'll inevitably unload this weight somehow anyway. Besides, how arrogant to think you have everything you need already, to begin with the hubris of taking up as much space as you can, of relying on the crutch of who you used to be instead of trusting who will become by crossing paths with people who are not only different than you, but also, those who are eerily similar.
So here's the hack: Just take less. Be brave and trust the becoming, make room for all that you won't be able to resist along the way, the things you actually need, and shove them mightily into all your spare pockets.
When it comes to your body and what she can do, let me just tell you, she can do a lot. You have withstood incredible heat, and bugs, and nasty water. You have felt physically uncomfortable and still been more productive than you have ever been. When you ate chili paste that you probably could (read: should) have done without and your digestive system shimmied a little too enthusiastically, and bubbled and boiled, you bounced back. You felt mortified from some of these new experiences, but mostly you shed shame. Remember letting go of shame and what happened after? If only there was a way to measure the change in your quality of life since you jumped into that waterfall in Laos, wearing (gasp!) a bathing suit, in front of (eep!) other people who had (ahh!) nice bodies. Remember realizing you have a nice body too? Because its yours and because its a body? It’s funny how once you handled that particular obstacle Olivia Pope style, the way you talked to people changed. Breathing felt different, mostly because you can exhale now. You didn’t need to suck in your stomach or hold it all in. And the people loved the you with no makeup, and with cellulite, and natural hair that was big and imperfect and asymmetrical. Some even came back for seconds.
Also, girl....Also.... remember what it was like to have complete control of your schedule, to throw yourself into something just because it was going to make you happy, and still feeling sad? That's because there is probably something going on in your brain. Remember when you were standing in line for sushi at the Tsujiki Market and, in the second hour of queuing up for sashimi, you accepted this about yourself ? Remember how it felt to lose your breath and cry in a crowd of strangers, because despite feeling down in the dumps, you, dear darling, were having a breakthrough! Remember hearing Chance sing "Wonderful Everyday" in that moment, at just the right time, and feeling a flood? It made you recall the hopefulness of you in your own littleness back when you were younger than Arthur himself. How staggering it is to realize that hopefulness doesn't feel the same, neither as big, nor as open, as it once did, even though you desperately want it to?
But, friend, a high tide raises all ships (#Daredevil #ThanksWilsonFisk), and even though you were in the pits, you still tried that day, you came out of that packed space in Tokyo feeling a little more free and with a tummy full of the most delicious tuna.
And speaking of ships. Remember Santorini? Know that going alone is better than not going at all. In fact, because it affords a unique mobility, it is fucking awesome. In fact, sometimes going alone is the best. Every day on your own is yours alone, and once in a while it's nice not to have to share. You can roam when you want to, how you want to. You don’t have to be worried about letting anyone else down. You get to be scared, and lean on yourself, and you learn the peculiar value of the fleeting camaraderie that is befriending strangers whom you will never see again.
You now believe that these relationships can teach you just as much as the ones you've been tending to for years back home--and this turns a simple, primary school lesson into a moral code: Be fiercely kind to everyone! Go out of your way, in fact. Cheer everyone on!
Your belief in this is so steadfast, you are sure its going to remain as sturdily anchored in the sway of all tides--just like the rock island in the center of Ammoudi Bay where you flew.
Remember when you were climbing the scraggly rock side of the cliff, feet tore up from black coral. On your way to the top your intention was to jump into the chilly water, but once you had arrived on the edge, you weren't so sure. Remember hearing those voices? The ones shouting "You can do it! You'll be fine! You're ok! You're going to make it!" Remember jumping and feeling the Mediterranean pull you fast and hard into a turquoise embrace.
Remember falling face first?
Pro-tip: Always fall face first.
Lead with what counts, even if it's painful. It still won't hurt bad enough to keep you from jumping again. And again. And again. Tomorrow, or the day after, when feel like you are chasing something that doesn't love you back...fuck it, give everything. When you are feeling overwhelmed, close your eyes and take the step anyway. When no one believes, and you feel yourself slipping too, keep on. Jump, leap, fall.
You are a mess. You will probably always be a mess, or at least feel like one. But what makes you you is that you try. So every morning when you wake up, forgive yourself your shortcomings because as long as you try, you are exactly who you want to be. Stand tall, but don't you dare stand still.
Remember this, if you remember nothing else.