Falling, Down Under, Getting Back Up, (a bit further North) & Dodging Teeth.

So I’m presently in Victoria, which, oddly enough, is where I was a month ago. Except that Victoria was in Australia. This one is a bit further North.
So, here I am, my second country in 2 months, and it’s Halloween, which used to be one of my favorites. I even threw a Halloween party for ‘E’ and I’s engagement once upon a time…but that was another life.
Anyway, it made me think about what I was doing last year at this time.
I was in Hawaii. That actually made me laugh out loud.
Yesterday, this very nice man started chatting me up at the coffee shop (Very friendly, these Canadians, which can prove challenging for an introvert).
He was very inquisitive, and I had nowhere to escape, so I obliged and answered his questions. The first? He wanted to know if I was from South Africa- the second time I’ve been asked this in the past two months, the first being in Australia.
I simply don’t get the South Africa one, but interestingly enough, when I’m in the U.S., people ask if I’m from Canada. (I say ‘abowt’ instead of ‘about’ for whatever reason).
This seems to be a theme. When I’m speaking Spanish in Latin America, they ask if I’m from Spain. When I’m in Spain, they ask if I’m from Latin America. When I was in the Democratic Republic of Congo, they asked if I learned French in France. And when I’m in France…I think they just try to understand me. (I haven’t quite conquered that language yet).
Anyway, this very nice man continued. He wanted to know where was I living (I avoided that one), where had I traveled, what line of work I was in, what work was I doing in Paris, and what in god’s name was I doing in the Congo.
He was fascinated, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was misleading him. That life is just so far removed from where I am now.

I know, “I won’t be here forever”, “I am more than my circumstances”, “the further you fall, the higher you rise”…I know.

Just somewhat comical. I go so fluidly between being flown across the world on seemingly exotic adventures…to sleeping on friends’ couches.

 

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My current sofa du’ jour, however, is quite comfortable…and I am in Canada with a very dear, very patient friend, so there’s that.
My dreams have been quite interesting here. Have you ever dreamed that you lost your teeth? This time it was my two front teeth. Which makes sense, because I did actually lose my two front teeth when I was little.
I already had a lisp so you can imagine. I couldn’t say my ‘r’s’ either. I basically sounded like a cross between Elmer Fudd and Sylvester the Cat. Cute when you are little. But I’m here to tell you, saying ‘Merry Christmas’ was quite the feat.
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One down…

There are various interpretations of what ‘losing teeth’ means in a dream:
1st scenario: It usually means some important relationship will be lost.
2nd scenario: You will take more responsibility and become more stable and mature.
3rd scenario: Tooth loss is likely to show that a difficult situation will soon be over.
4th scenario: There is really something wrong with your teeth.
Okay, well, the first one certainly applies.
The second, not so much. I’m kind of on the opposite end of the spectrum, but I’ll certainly take it.
The third scenario: Um, yes, please. I will gladly hand over a tooth or two if that one can play out.
And the last one, I’m not 100% sure, but they all seem to be intact.
So I’m going to go with the third scenario. Although I’d rather keep the teeth I offered up so as not to revisit the previously-mentioned ‘lisp era’…not so cute when you are trying to pull off scenario 2…or rebound from scenario 1.
But in keeping with the subject at hand- ‘teeth’ seems to be a theme here in Canada.
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About three days after I got here, I went to the gym to try to work off some angst from scenario 1 and the whole ‘sleeping on friends couches’ thing.
I was making solid progress sweating it out when I saw something flying toward me out of the corner of my eye. I didn’t even have time to flinch before I saw a set of teeth lying on the floor in front of me.
I’m not talking about the ‘these are a part of my Halloween costume’ teeth.

It was a full set of teeth.

I somehow refrained from reacting and promptly looked down, pretending to be studying my distance/speed stats intensely. I definitely never saw a heavy-set man walk directly in front of me, bend down, and pick up his teeth.

The poor guy must have been mortified. It did make me think, though, “well shit, things aren’t that bad. I mean, yes, my heart’s a little bruised, my circumstances aren’t exactly ideal, but at least I don’t have to worry about my teeth falling out. I get to wake up from my bad dream, shake it off, and then head to the bathroom and brush my teeth…versus, you know, having to fish them out of a glass or whatever you do when you have to put your teeth in.
So, that’s all I got. I’m still in Canada, still living out of my suitcase, still making people guess where I’m from, and still trying to figure out where I’m going.
The good news, however, is (according to the experts) “My difficult situation will soon be over.”

That’s something I can sink my teeth into…

 

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Your Mid-life Manic Pixie Dream Girl

A sneak preview of an article in the works:

He had told me he needed to leave over an hour ago, but he was still here. A battle of wits was in full swing. I was winning, and I could tell he liked it.

The banter continued, the chemistry, obvious. He finally paused, studying my face. My chest tightened. I knew that look, and I knew what was coming.

“You are, I don’t know, I’ve just never met anyone…”

I stopped him before he could finish, “Are you married?”

He laughed, clearly taken aback, then looked down.

“No. I mean, not technically. Or I guess technically I am, but it’s been over for a long time.”

This is now one of the first questions I ask if I’m interested in someone. And this is what I’ve learned: “no” usually means yes and “getting a divorce” means I want a divorce, but I’m not yet and won’t be for an indeterminate amount of time.

To be clear, I’m not seeking out men who are married. But as it turns out, being 40ish and newly single seems to be the status quo. It also turns out that single or even just available is open to interpretation.

When I first got divorced, one ex-boyfriend after another started reaching out. I was a bit naïve in the beginning, thinking they just wanted to catch up. I quickly realized that even if we aren’t the type to keep our married status current or obvious, social media can be telling if someone’s paying attention. It can also be very deceptive.

When the one I never quite got over showed up, I, of course, scoured his social media. His status? Married. There was a good amount of pictures of his kids and family vacations, so I reasoned he must just want to catch up.

After a drink or two, however, I got “the truth.” He’d been separated for months, the marriage was over and had been for years, his situation was complicated: the kids, the house, the finances…But he was finally ready to move on.

This all made sense at the time. My divorce was painful and not immediate. But logistically, it was relatively simple and finalized within a few months. In short, we didn’t have children.

So I listened. I listened to him tell me that he loves his kids but wondered if he made the wrong decision, that the reality is, he’s thought about me all this time and has never met anyone like me…

I believed him and we plunged in. I had the person I thought I was meant to be with, and he had an exciting distraction from the painful reality of his day-to-day.

Therein lies the tragic flaw. For men in the thick of a mid-life crisis, I’m a distraction from reality, existing in the realm of a fantasy they conjure up.

I’ve become their manic pixie dream girl, the female version of a night in shining armor who “…has no reason to exist except to cheer up one miserable guy.”

This is it, in a nutshell: (explained by Hugo Schwzer)

I thought less about her and more about how it was she made me feel… As unstable as she may be, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl not only senses a young man’s potential in a way he can’t, she intuitively knows how to lead him to his destiny. She knows him better than he knows himself, or so he believes. That convenient assumption allows the young man both to adore the MPDG and to avoid any responsibility for reciprocity. How can he be expected to give anything back when she has this magical intuition about the world that so vastly exceeds his own?


Songs from the Final Chapter: Ever After…

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A Gypsy’s Tale: Ever After

I keep seeing the posts coming in: wishes well for the year ahead or blessings counted for the one that passed…or heartbreaking accounts of why we so desperately want to place 2017 firmly in the past.

I tried to write one of these, all three versions. But nothing. It seems I’ve lost my words.  I’m not sure why. I wish I could get them back or out or whatever needs to happen. But they also seem to be stuck firmly in the past at the present moment.

So for now, I’ll steal more words from others who have fed my soul… and saved it at times.

But this one you’ll like. It’s for the future I have to look forward to and the gift of the present I have to get there.

Surrender

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I think it’s time.

‘It’s easier to leave than be left, isn’t it?’

You know it is. You always leave first

               …. you just do it standing still.

                                   * illustration by Rebecca Dautremer

 

The Return of Magic

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I received a request to repost this one, which is very good to hear since this is the premise of my book…. which has admittedly been put on hold for a spell, due to the whole ‘trying to piece my life back together’ thing.

I contemplated adapting it to the present tense, but decided it could possibly be an offering of hope… or induce fear, depending on your vantage point.

I wrote this in the thick of a heartbreak that made anything that came before seem like a minor scratch. And although I am not where I had hoped I would be 9 months later, it might provide some sort of solace to know that there were a few other events that happened simultaneously, delaying my arrival to the finish line I keep hoping will emerge.

God, wouldn’t that be amazing? If there was this definitive line drawn, one we could see off in the distance that would confirm that every excruciating step was a tangible progression towards arriving on the other side, both feet planted firmly on the ground with no fear of that next step being negated by the two you just took back…yet again.

I wish I could tell you I was there, basking in the glory of victory, heart intact, fear nowhere to be seen. I’m not, not quite, but I’m close. And on a good day, I can almost hear the crowd cheering in the distance as I watch one more mile marker go by, signaling my arrival is imminent and there is in fact, hope.

But most importantly, she has returned, our protagonist. She never technically left, but I tend to forget how unruly she is and always write her off when she doesn’t show up how I want her to…

On the Subject of Magic

 

Definition of Magic (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

  “An extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source.                                             Something that seems to cast a spell.”

I find a sense of irony is trying to define magic, just as I do with attempts to define love or evil or god. These all have very different meanings that are dependent on each person’s beliefs and experiences. But, this is what makes us human, I suppose. Our inherent need to define all that is around us, to place all things firmly and tangibly into reality, it is what I believe to be one of the worst tragedies; most things clearly defined leave little room for the extraordinary.

Of all things intangible, magic might very well be the most elusive. It is a very real force that influences almost every moment of our childhood, allowing us to navigate our world curious, uninhibited, full of wonder, and open to every possibility. But this elusive force will inevitably succumb to its nemesis. We all must grow up, right? We all must face reality.

So, like most people, Magic eluded me for decades, until reality had sucked all the life out of me, and I realized that the only one who could save me had gone missing.

Magic means different things to different people. It can be the thrill you feel when you throw your hands up and plunge down a rollercoaster when you hold your newborn baby in your arms when you reunite with an old friend or laugh so hard you cry. And, it can be the spark you feel when you meet the love of your life. Perhaps you don’t think of those things as ‘magic’. Maybe you label them as joy or happiness or fleeting moments of emotion. I guess they can be those things, too. I just see them as magic.

I know that experiencing those things and realizing they are precious moments that should be sought out regularly just gets harder to do when we are older. We have responsibilities, distractions, stress, and anxiety. We are in jobs we hate or relationships that aren’t working. We have been hurt and betrayed, disappointed and rejected. We become cynical,  jaded and complacent. And there is just no place for magic there.

But every once in a while, you encounter that person who has found it. This person exudes it and it is contagious. You want to be around them as much as possible, you want to feel what they feel. You want it to work its way into you. But they haven’t been through what you have, right? They don’t have the same past and stress and pain as you do. You would be ‘happy’ or ‘carefree’ or feel that magic, too if you weren’t in the life that yours has become. I can’t tell you how many times I have chalked it all up to that. I judge those people. I resent them….and I so envy them.

So, there I was, in my beautiful home, with my amazing husband, my precious dog, and my stable job. And I felt like the life was being sucked out of me. And now I question what everyone does after they completely blow their life up. Was I just completely selfish? Did I just not appreciate what I had? Is this the whole ‘grass is greener, holy grail’ thing? Maybe. Well let me be clear, the grass is not greener where I am sitting right now. In fact, I have never been in more pain and felt more hopeless than I have over the past 6 months.

But I can’t pretend it didn’t happen. It was magic, even if I was the only one who truly felt it. And it changed me, making it impossible to settle for anything less.

And so I’m back to the place where I spend most of my time, teetering between cynicism and steadfast conviction. I found it, the one who went missing. And as fleeting as it was, it was undeniable, filling in the empty spaces that had rendered me a slave to comfortable and safe. It was as if someone had pushed play and all the parts of me that had been dormant for years- that had craved inspiration, intense connection and the kind of love that made the thought of its absence unbearable- all came alive, all at once, and there was simply no going back.

But my god, the utter devastation that followed, the acute turned chronic pain that is so consuming the only way through is to try like hell to feel nothing at all. How could I not question whether it was magic at all and if such a thing even exists? It feels like I’m being forced to walk after finally learning how to fly.

To make things even more confusing, in those rare moments of clarity, I can get a glimpse of what might have actually been missing, that intangible thing I have been searching for. I think it might possibly be that little girl who always sought it out, magic, and worked like hell to bring it to everything she did. I lost her. She conformed and opted for ‘normal’ and ‘safe’ instead. As much as I wish I was, I’m just not these things. And it turns out, these are the things that most people choose. Perfect, right? I found what was missing and lost everything in the process.

So, that’s it. Sorry, but no ‘magical’ words of wisdom come to mind to share. I am a bit nervous, to be honest. If there was a time for me to be jaded, this would be it. What if I already am? What if the cynicism sticks? Is there no going back? Is this just how it’s going to feel from here on out?

No idea. So I do the only thing I can at this point. I get up in the morning. I try to do things that used to make me happy. I force a smile and initiate conversation. And I try to do what seems to work for most…I try to face reality.

Maybe there really is no such thing as magic.

 

11 Months, 9 Days Revisited (published in Thought Catalog)

A little ‘light-hearted’ reading to start your weekend. Okay, it’s not light-hearted, but it might have something to do with that general area.

Hope it at least makes you feel…

Living With a Shattered Heart

Sneak Preview: Salsa, Heartbreak, and Redemption (or something like that)

Thought I would give a taste of why I have disappeared for a spell. I have no idea where or if this will be published, but I thought I could try to spread a lil’ hope for those of you in the thick of ‘rebounding’ from a heartbreak in the absence of a rebound, at least in the traditional sense….

“Burdened no more is soul for whom life flows through dance like breath.”
― Shah Asad Rizvi

He grabbed my hand and slid his arm around my waist, pulling me closer. Our lips were close enough to kiss. My eyes lingered on them as they made their way up to meet his gaze. He smiled playfully, “Relax. Try not to think, and just let yourself  feel. ”

The music started. A cacophony of horns and percussion thrust us into motion. I knew I was tensing up, and the only thing I could feel was my heart racing. He let go of my waist and slid his hands down the length of my back, letting them rest firmly on my hips. He paused for a second, teasing me like he always did before he sent me spinning. I threw my head back, laughing, as our playful improvisation began, our bodies syncing up perfectly. Without saying a word, he would tell me exactly what he wanted me to do, and I would gladly submit. He had me exactly where he wanted me. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than how I felt, completely immersed in the moment, and deliriously happy. Then the music stopped.

This is how I got over my first heartbreak. I started dancing.

My boyfriend had found someone else. I didn’t blame him. We were going on year four of what had become a vicious cycle of trying ‘just one more time’. I knew it needed to end, but I wasn’t ready to give up. He was, and he did.

So I did what I always do when my heart gets broken; I planned my escape. I sold everything that wouldn’t fit into my suitcase and bought a ticket to Spain. Just over a week before I was supposed to leave, my stepdad called. My mom had been in a car accident.

I didn’t go to Spain; I went to bury my mom instead.

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I finally stopped rambling when he walked over and motioned for my hand. I wiped it on my skirt, confessing,

I’m kind of nervous

He smiled. Really? I had no idea. 

I feigned annoyance, laughed and offered up my sweaty palm. He led me through some basic steps, which I fumbled through, stepping on his feet more than I care to admit. He finally stopped, stepping back and studying me for a minute.

Not bad, he said, acting surprised. Actually, that was pretty good. You clearly know how to dance; we just need to get your confidence back. But first, there is something more important we need to do.

He had my attention.

I think you’ve forgotten how to feel. And you can’ t dance if you can’t feel. So I am going to try something that I think might help.

He most definitely had my attention.

Close your eyes and don’t open them until I tell you.

I stood there, my heart racing, waiting to see what would happen next…..

 

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More to come….   ;o)

 

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Briya produces fashionable bags and accessories that allow adventurous spirits and dedicated change-makers to travel in style while helping women and children to reach their full potential in underprivileged regions around the world.

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