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.

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