My mind is constantly racing with things I want, and need, to do. Giving birth to a book is more exhausting than actual childbirth in some ways. This book in particular has picked at the scab that slowly began forming over my wounds. I’ve found my heart and mind throbbing with an ache, wondering if I will ever feel emotionally safe and secure again.
I worry that I will die before I see my girls grow into women—happy women, not completely stunted in their own emotional growth by the premature death of their father. I worry that my time here will end before I get to see the rest of my own dreams come to fruition. I worry that everyone I love will go before I’m ready to say goodbye, or more importantly, have a chance to say goodbye.
I guess, at the heart of it all, I just worry way more than I ever did. Before I was carefree in my understanding of the reality that everything living will die. I suppose this is a natural reaction when death occurs outside of the natural order of things.
I’m not always good at telling others what I need, or don’t need, from them. During our time in couples therapy, Mikey used to get so upset with me for expecting him to be a mind reader. Being in love, at least my sense of being in love, means being keenly aware of what the other person needs even when they are unable to say it for themselves.
This holds true for the relationship we share with ourselves. Nurture being the key word, as I suspect too often we let that relationship lapse. Between work, motherhood, marriage, and in many cases fear, that little voice that screams inside of us all doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves.
That little voice is what I’m trying to focus on these days, and it has taken me back to Paris. After a vigorous six weeks of book publicity, I needed to get away from the responsibilities of my every day life. Of course the girls are always on my mind—motherhood is not a switch one can turn on and off. I’m incredibly thankful to have an auntie who is keeping them under her watchful eye, while I take some time to work on myself. Work on learning to listen to that voice. Before I can expect anyone to ever love me as deeply and wholly as Michael did, I have to learn to love myself that way. Therein lies the key to letting anyone else in close enough to risk having my heart broken again. And I must be honest that my heart will be vulnerable in any new relationship, whether it’s something simply not meant to be, or I fall madly in love again and that person goes and drops dead again suddenly.
Being vulnerable is a fact of life. It’s how I handle that vulnerability that steers the choices I make. Do I run in fear, or face it head on, ready to accept both what I can and cannot control? That is what I’m working on these days.
I was a little unsure as I stepped outside the airport yesterday. The feelings of excitement, the butterflies I felt as I buckled into my seat on Wednesday evening. It was cold, wet and grey. This didn’t catch me by surprise—it’s Paris, after all. Hours later the sun burst, casting rays of warmth from above. It was then followed by a dreadful downpour, and then yes, the sun came out again in all its glory. Life is much like the weather in Paris.
I went for a walk to Saint Suplice, and had a croque monsieur from my favorite cafe. Sarah knows the place I’m talking about, and it’s not just any croque monsieur. This one is a provencale-style, topped with ruby slices of tomatoes, and served open face on Poilâne bread.
Then I did what some might think downright silly when escaping for just a few precious days in Paris. I went shopping for groceries. I cook so often to show the people in my life how much I love them. The last few days I’ve been using cooking as a way to remind myself that I, too, am worth the time and effort that goes into a homemade meal. It started with a cake I baked myself for Mother’s Day.
As I cut slivers of garlic, and sauteed them in olive oil, a smile slowly came to my face. It was a humble meal of marinara sauce and penne. A simple salad, with a glass of Burgundy. And then I strolled down Boulevard Saint Germain to see The Great Gatsby. Oh, how I love seeing movies in Paris. I can’t really explain why, as I don’t know myself. It just fascinates me to the point of being exciting. Crazy, silly, childish…maybe all of the above?
I managed to keep myself up until midnight— quite a feat, considering it meant I was awake for 38 hours, running on only 3 hours of sleep. I woke nice and early this morning, catching the sun glistening over the buildings peeking above the walls of the courtyard outside my apartment. An apple tart I picked up from Poilâne yesterday served as my petit déjeuner, along with some strong coffee, fresh squeezed juice and a few raspberries.
I’ve been fighting feelings of guilt, as I pluck away at my keyboard writing, feeling like I should be doing something more worthy of my time. I’m in Paris, for heaven’s sake, I should’ve made my way to Blé Sucré by now. I want to spend some time lazily walking around the Musee d’Orsay, and finally get lost in the caverns of the Louvre—things you can’t do as leisurely with children. And then I keep reminding myself that I’m doing exactly what I set out to do when I booked this trip. I wanted to live life on my terms for a few days. No rising early to squeeze in some work before waking the kids. No mad dash to get into the schoolyard by 8:38am. No worrying about deadlines.
For the next few days, all I plan to do is listen to that little voice. Doing that in Paris makes perfect sense. I know the streets of the 6th and 7th, like the back of my hand. I can zip from A to B, needing little assistance from my trusted map. And yet, the customs and language still bewilder me a bit. Yesterday I told the green grocer “C’est fin” when I was done ordering which means “I’m dead”. The moment I said it, I knew it was wrong. Really, it means “I’m done” if you did the literal translation, but in French the expression is used to say the party’s over.
Paris offers me the familiar and unfamiliar. I feel completely comfortable here, and like an absolute stranger, all at once. It’s not too far off from how I feel in my own body sometimes. One thing I can say with certainty, though, is that I’m far from done. And so, my work continues.
Music Pairing: Dreams by The Cranberries