Do you feel at home?

This post is the #week1 #oprahblogchallenge from Jammie’s blog.

I have tried to let this title inspire me many times to write a post that I wouldn’t have to completely sensor and that would make sense. No wonder that when the answer to this question is no, there is not much more to say.

I want to shout that I don’t feel at home, that I don’t belong here, and that I hide myself, letting out the real me in small doses, like a wounded animal checking to see if it’s safe. I struggle – I struggle so badly when I don’t fit in and that is all I feel sometimes, that I don’t fit in. There are few moments of peace, of connection, when I forget about being an outsider, but no over-riding feeling of security.

The truth is I don’t know how to make a home. I feel at home when I am with my parents and when I am in Geneva. I let others define home for me and make me feel at home. Even my real home, I left it and went far away. I left for adventure, to be free to be myself, and to be more at home, but really I don’t know how to do that with myself. I know how to leave places that don’t feel like home. I know how to do it over and over again thinking that I will be better off where I am going but I am not. I know how to turn around and not look back and then cry when it’s all gone. I leave pieces of myself all over the place. I wind up lonely and disconnected wherever I go. When I return, I am again lonely and disconnected because what I left behind has moved on.

This is hard but I guess I need to make a home here. I am doubtful, I really don’t know if this is the right place. It doesn’t look right, it doesn’t smell right, and it doesn’t talk right, but I am learning to embrace imperfection.  I don’t have anyone like me to show how it’s done here. I don’t have a community, a group.

I have a few friends who I try to stitch together into a patchwork network, hoping they will catch me and not let me fall through the cracks. I also have HD and a cat and some plants. I have a mostly well-functioning body despite its serious limitations. There’s a lot I can do before I run out of steam. I have a kind face, a nice personality, and most people like talking to me. I have lived and loved expansively all over the world and I can try to live and love expansively and fully right here. I can build from the ground up.

I like you

This is what I jotted down on my phone while I was on the train a few days ago:

“Sometimes I’m afraid nothing will feel as good as this fucking place. That nothing will be as classy, so full, and completely filling and fulling and fulfilling. That nothing will look as cool as a giant yellow cookie in the shape of a NY taxi.”

Sometimes life feels so raw and tender and good I want to bite it. Just like a crush who wooed me for months and joked that he wanted to bite me.

Yesterday when I was worn and aching and rubbing my head in a meeting that I also happened to be leading, feeling overworked and underpaid, I looked out the window onto the Manhattan skyline and couldn’t believe it. I was sitting on the 25th floor of THE non-profit institution leading a meeting. At times like these, I don’t even know how I got here. I sometimes take a minute from work when walking around to look out the giant windows to the street below. I see yellow cabs and people crossing the street and the Chrysler building and I try to breathe it all in as if the window were open. When working late, I have gone to the window to see the view at night; what is it about city lights?

This summer can just be a giant apple and I will be eating it. Get it? 😉

Things have changed, that is to say the least. I am writing to procrastinate which means that I really must not want to work. I am sitting in so hipster a café in Brooklyn that I had trouble finding it initially because it didn’t have a sign in front of it. Also, I just ordered in French and two of the four walls have exposed brick and bookshelves in them. All this ‘ natural style’ feels so pretentious that I feel embarrassed. But I should back up and take you back to that late summer day.

One day late in the summer, HD confirmed that he got the NY job.  After that, I swear everything hung in the most perfect happy balance for a few days. It was warm but not humid, the sky bright and the breeze cool. I remember the work tour that we took and then we sat outside in a local café eating burgers with locally sourced ingredients. That’s when we told our friends, we’re moving to New York! Blog readers know that I have wanted to move to a bigger city for a while and the excitement of NY and the change in the air was just too much. It was like a heady dream.

And then the change happened. I walked in to my office building to find a trail of leaves taking me from the entrance right to my office door. When did the leaves start falling? I wondered surprised. At lunchtime I found more evidence of autumn when I walked back outside to see the ground littered with tiny yellow leaves. The trees that lined the sidewalks were shedding.

Since then in a few months, autumn has come and almost gone. The trees turned all different shades to show their fiery magnificence, a soothing sight as we did some stressful trips back and forth from Connecticut to New York. I said goodbye to my boss and spent an emotional day confused and trying to get over it. I drove from my previous home to the new one in Brooklyn for the first time and felt proud. And it doesn’t end here. Getting used to city life and my handicap here is still an issue. What I wouldn’t give to let loose here. To walk out one day without having to think about the pain and factor it in to my day. I also missed my big apartment from before and imagined myself in the comfort of my old bedroom sometimes. I don’t do that anymore though, I move on quickly. Even when the sounds from the crazy neighbor go particularly crazy, I calmly consider making plans to drive to New Jersey to stay with family while we wait to get our new apartment yet again. Ah more change. Finally, this is what I’d been waiting for all along.

Dream of Californication

It was awesome. I am not feeling as inspired anymore but I have to say I loved our California vacation. I guess it was just like in the movies except that I was too busy to notice that.

I love love love Northern California. I could live and die there (whatever that means). It feels like the edge of the world. The most Western point on the map. Everywhere I need to be and everyone I love is so far from there. And yet I would happily settle there. The thought makes me feel guilty and I didn’t lost the sense of being far away but it felt so good and homey at the same time. Movies I tell ya.

We went to the Napa Valley, San Francisco, Berkeley, Menlo Park, and we were passing in front of the Facebook building and only noticed it at the last minute. I swear it’s the edge of my world but it felt like it was its source. Yes I know how that sounds. Stanford University is like a resort. I checked out the law school, it seemed like the ideal vacation spot. Why oh why did I do my studies in rainy London?

We didn’t get a drop top for the Pacific Coast Highway drive but we were in a Prius so that was nice. We saw hard core hippies, vegans, fair trade activists and environmentalists. Oh and an IT guy. I also love love love that California is so advanced in terms of environmental protection. I love that they charge you for plastic bags and I love that if you are asking to taste an ice-cream flavor at an ice-cream shop first, they’ll give you a regular spoon to taste with not a plastic one to throw away. They collect them back and wash them. How fucking hard is that oh rest of the world? Collect your trash in your own living room why don’t you. I digress…

LA was dusty, dirty, hot and crowded. I didn’t get to see much wealth and celebrity, lacking those things myself. We did drive along Mulholand Drive and the Hollywood Hills and the song “She’s so Hollywood” kept playing in my head. It was fun but I felt like you had better loved your art and have passion for it to deal with the shit here. Imagine moving here and living in this shit-hole hoping you’ll make it one day and get to move on to the Hill.

It was definitely one of my most memorable vacations ever, I think I am absolutely digging this discovering the US thing. A couple of things I came away with:

A week away is enough to get both HD and me recharged and raring to get back home. We were both feeling pretty inspired by then and didn’t need the extra 3 days. Future vacations need not be so long especially if not going too far.

I was barely on fb and spent a lot less time feeling good/bad/sad/angry/weird about stuff on there. Came back with a resolution to only check it twice a day. I’m kind of sticking to it, although it is an epic fail sometimes. But not all the time.

It IS inspiring to instagram. That savior of all ugly and pointless photos makes you feel like a Picasso (or whoever your preferred brand of artistic genius is). I must continue to do more of this in regular life.

Vacationing is also like a forced break from my to-do list which I am always running over in my head. It’s really a bad habit and one that I should really work on. I’ve got to practice letting go and enjoying the moment like I do when I’m away from home. Or just take a quick weekend getaway to clear my head. Whatever.

Je n’ai pas l’habitude de m’occuper des cas comme ça

By some twisted law of nature, I encountered delay after delay on my flights to Geneva this time. I had left for the airport that morning feeling so calm and ready and well-packed. I thought it would be a breeze, my trip wasn’t too long, just one connection and I had a plan for how I would get over jet-lag when I arrived so I could take advantage of each day. For once, I hasn’t rushed to get the packing done. All I can say is that at least the trip started out that way. In addition to missing flights because of the delays, the airline lost my luggage and I had to wait nearly an hour to get picked up from the airport when I did arrive.

Then for the return trip, I didn’t feel ready at all. I came down with the flu a couple of days before and didn’t get done with everything that needed to be done. In the morning of the flight I got up ready to finish packing only to realise that my flight had been cancelled. It may be a good thing for the extra time, or bad for the extra stress to make the important appointments I have upon my return. All I know is that airlines generally and United Air specifically will screw you over unless you call them up and tell them that you do not just want to be dumped onto one flight after another. Also demand compensation. And if you actually get it, let me know how. Bah humbug.

On another note, the first thing I did when I realised that I wasn’t heading out the door to make my flight was listen to the song that has been running through my head for the past couple of days.

 

Sometimes

Sometimes I feel like hitting pause on my life and crawling into a hole. Preferably a very nicely decorated and comfy hole with books and such. Or sometimes I feel like just leaving behind the pile of stuff that needs to be done to get my life on track and fill those days with endless procrastination instead. Other times I remember that life is quite amazingly perfect with or without a job and those moments were captured in some of these picture.

Image

The Breakfast Series

One of my more recent discoveries is figuring out how gyms make money and why trainers are really experienced salesman. My first encounter with a trainer was in guise of a ‘free assessment’. Here I was asked to remember the last time I remembered feeling healthy, energetic and perfectly happy with how I looked. I was also asked to think back to the last 10 years of keeping my weight and diet in control. Touché sir. I can tell you the exact memories and scenarios, I guess many people can. Then I was made to realise how incapable I am of turning this around and actually meeting my fitness goals on my own. On a piece of paper, he even drew abs for me. I told him those didn’t look like mine but probably much more like his; a statement he did not deny. Clearly I need a trainer to help me pump iron so I don’t get bored doing it and also to keep my from living a life of disappointment and struggle.

At the moment though, I cannot bring myself to accept his proposition of help and a wonderful life. Working out with a trainer will remain a dream for now. What I have been working on is trying to sort out my diet on my own. It turns out that I am lactose intolerant. Don’t laugh at me, chances are quite high that you are lactose intolerant too. It is far more common than I had realised but luckily not harmful. On top of that, I am trying to avoid gluten too. A year ago I didn’t even know what gluten meant and I am still trying to figure it out. If I buy into the hype, I would believe that it will not only help digestion but also solve every other problem in my life. It always comes down to food, doesn’t it?  Don’t believe me? Google it.

Despite those limitations on my diet, here are a series of breakfast photos that I have seriously enjoyed. Breakfast is still my favourite meal of the day and it photographs so nicely especially when travelling.

HD’s ommelette upon my return

Dinner at my friends’ flat in Geneva (ok so this isn’t beakfast)

Scone, jam and green tea at Dublin Airport