Sunday, 30 March 2014

The End of our Exploring

It is a rainy day here in the city, and I am curled up over a steaming cup of coffee at the Ethiopian cafe with a fellow writer friend. It's our writing day, only every time I bend my thoughts into story, what comes back to me are images of my life right now.

Steam has gathered on the windows, so condensed it runs down drops inside the pane of glass like rain and the strong smell of beans crushed and rushing into waiting mugs fills the air. I love this place. I love being here in this city where everything is always happening and changing and full of possibility.

Yesterday bore witness to the arrival of a real bed for me. We laughed in my flat, called it a rite of passage that I graduated from an air mattress to the real deal--something that all my flatmates have gone through, and with this same mattress now passed on to me. It was a day of rearranging my room to make space for this new thing, and a day of realising; I have been in this place for four months now. I have left my last home six months ago. Six months. That is a half year! How has that time passed without my count? How does it seem both so little and so long?

I have been in my new job four weeks now, and still love it. I love that I work in the centre of the arts  in a role which encompasses everything from theatre to opera to orchestra to ballet and on to touch every outer reach of this wonderful galaxy. Love that every week I meet new people and can begin a new friendship to enrich my world, to hopefully enrich other worlds. Love commuting to work and standing in this throng of people and voices and colours. Sound and motion. Love going for a walk in the city somewhere new every time, something yet unseen to find.

Today I made my first craigslist purchase: a chair for my desk. When I leave this coffeeshop it will be to go home to my room where I have a real bed now, to sit down at my desk that I pulled out of storage, to use this new chair to pour into words this story that will be written that will come out that breaks my heart and I have no idea the ending to, the middle of, the path.

I am reviewing my life in my head these days. Thinking of the many lives I have lived and how separate from one another they have so many of them seemed. I love how connected this life makes me feel to the rest of myself. Not as whole as living in London made me, but close. And beautiful. It is so much in the little things. New friends. A bed. A chair. Steaming coffee in the rain that tastes the flavours of another home. The three languages I heard in passing on the street one of which I share, one I recognise, and one as yet unknown.

Last summer I started thinking about moving on, but could not imagine that life. Seven months ago I decided to leave and launch out into this new somewhere. Six months ago I began, not having a clue what lay ahead.

I remember five years ago now, I wanted so very desperately to have a place in this world. To have my own place, my slot marked out for me and the path clearly stretched out before me. In many ways I think we are wired to want that, to look for our little slice of life and fit it, to be restless until it, to fear being without it. It is safety and comfort and clarity. Security and definition. I as a writer love definition, oftentimes too much. As a young adult with a unstable, roving childhood, I wanted that place of my own, or at least to know how to claim it, how anyone can ever claim something. Have ownership or be owned, perhaps. I wrote a lot at the time about how you find your path, about what that should look like, and I finally decided that perhaps the straight lined path is just an illusion. We are living in a world with a curved horizon, a lie of a line. Even the straightest path circles around the world and if we expect it to be even we are in for a rude interruption or two. So I slowly changed my thinking. I decided that maybe the curving route that can go anywhere, that can wrap itself around the world over and again and come from so many different places beginning again everywhere and coming always from somewhere else and going still elsewhere may be the most beloved best adventure infinitely satisfying experience possible.

Now I think that if I could see down a straight line to the end of my life I would be bored or crazed to an early death.

I love this adventure of discovery, the not knowing, the thrill of beginning ever again. Love how many chances we have to be new and renew. To begin and begin again. Greater and greater.

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.” 

― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

I have no idea what these next six months will hold. I couldn't possibly have imagined the adventures of the past six and I am so glad, because everything has been harder and more beautiful than I could possibly have. This is a beautiful thing.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Risking Life

Today is one of those days that begs talking about.

I had no desire to wake up this morning and I forgot to brush my hair, put on earrings, and grab breakfast before heading out the door for work. Then the metro was backed up for reasons unknown. I waited three trains before finally making it through the door onto one of them. I stepped hard on one poor man's (very nice!) shoe by accident, trying to avoid falling over because there was no where to hold onto and the train driver was crazier than Cruella in 101 Dalmatians. The road right next to my office got shut down because of a suspicious package scare at one of the embassies there and we all got some amber alert on our phones.

But it was the first day of Spring, and it didn't snow here. Both sun and blue skies popped out to visit. I successfully finished setting up my banking and I bumped into some friends when I went out to grab some lunch.

After work tonight, I went to a play at the Kennedy Center with one of my housemates. We saw A Midsummer Night's Dream together. My last experience with that play was actually as an actor in it--one of the most fun roles I've ever played, actually--and the lead make-up design/conceptual artist. I think we did a pretty spectacular job with it, too--from set design to choreography to costuming and make-up to actual presentation of lines and character development (etc etc). But this, tonight, it was spectacular. It was breathtaking. I sat there riveted and got a headache and spotty vision at more than one point only to realise it was because I was actually holding my breath for the splendidness of it.

If you've ever seen The Mysteries (and you should--and which I would almost die to see performed live!!!), there were a lot of element similarities to me between the two. This production of Midsummer was done including puppets. Not muppets (which are, admittedly, awesome), but real incredibly put together wood carved puppets. Sometimes tiny, sometimes larger than life. And sometimes a basket with three people holding different objects next to in order to animate. But it DID  animate. It came to life so amazingly.

And then after a performance that really couldn't possibly have gotten any better, an actor went and proposed to his girlfriend after the long standing ovation!! (and she said yes)

What what what!?

We took a taxi home tonight. The driver was Ethiopian, and he and I chatted all about Ethiopian food, and how a woman has to know how to cut a chicken just right, and life. Last time I was in a taxi with an Ethiopian man was on my way to the final interview for my now job. That driver told me he knew I would get the job if I wanted it, and I did want it, and I did get it.

Now here I am a month later going home. Home after a long day at work. A day of working at a place I am just so incredibly delighted to be a part of and bewildered just how exactly it came about. A day of movement and drama and art, of cross realities and playfulness. I got to ride home driving down the Mall looking at the monuments and then passing the Capital building, the senate buildings. Home to a street that I know and love to curl up on my bed.

I saw a card today that read something to the effect of, "life without risk is not an adventure." I think all of life is filled with risks whether we acknowledge them or not, whether we take extra ones or not, and it can always be seen as an adventure if you figure out a new perspective. But the fact is, I am just so very glad that I took the risk of moving to this city and searching for a job and settling into yet another world. Because it is a beautiful world, and the rest of my world is bigger for it, and even on days of complete ordinariness or terribly rough starts or interminable saudade, I feel like I have the whole of the universe dancing stars inside of me.