An ode to what once was and what will be

If all moments in life were treated as that, moments with a start and end date, we would probably seize them with full consciousness, we would clasp onto every bit of emotion, feeling, or thought a given situation inspires in us. We would see the world with wonder, and would rejoice in the goodness and the bad, because we would know they have an expiration date. We are often blind to the wonders that life has to offer, treating the human spectrum of emotions as a most mundane affair. It is only in retrospect that we can look back and see the purpose in the pain, the charisma in the hours spent feeling lost. And then there are days that come and go with stagnancy.

Wake up. Commute. Go to work.  Go home. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

And then BAM. You open your eyes, hundreds of days later, to find yourself in a different space and time.  The scenery of the journey may have seemed abiding, but yet you went from point A to point B, without much realization in the process.  However, in hindsight, all feelings and thoughts make sense, and you realize they are the most precious experience. Of course, that only applies for some people.  There are others who do everything with intention.  They know what they want their path to be, and they get closer to point B with every day that goes by.

I am not one of those people.   I navigate through this world a bit blindly, with hedonism being the big picture.   The goals I set for myself are small.  A trip to plan, another place to have my heart, a book to read, a song to write.  I however don’t have a decade-long plan.  I’m not sure if it’s a ‘blessing’ or a ‘curse’, but there is something incredibly rewarding in allowing myself to derail.  It is infinite freedom. It makes the future exciting with possibilities, with every day a blank canvas with possibility of so many lives! And it makes the past beautiful abstract expressionism left for hours of interpretation and introspection.

About a feeling

You came to me  in apathy, a stranger, and you brought with you a multicoloured palette to paint this town a bit more bearable.  A lot more bearable, who am I kidding.  You came to me in great sadness.  My heart wasn’t fully mended yet,  I always took care of that on my own before, you see.  There you were before me, with such novel kindness in your every word and move.   I succumbed.

I had been mourning scenery, faces, bridges, and cities, far away from here.

You understood.

You long for those places too.  Your blue eyes glistened as you spoke about that little town in the North of England, and then of Valladolid.  You took me on a trip to parts of this world where I’ve never been before that rainy night in August.  I saw it all so vividly in my head, making up landmark arrangements and inventing the traits of the characters that were part of your stories.

You came to me when I felt like I had absolutely nothing to offer to another human being.  You see, I was bent, and emptied of all vulnerability I used to be capable of.  But you noticed that, and you waited patiently, without the pressure of time, without apprehension.

You came to me in a time when I thought stories like these only happened in novels filled with sentimentality.   You brought with you everything that the ones who have come before you didn’t have to give. Giving yourself selflessly.   It felt strange.  You triggered such rawness out of me, that I never knew I was capable of before you came.  The many states of me, that I used to be worried would never be known by people before you, just manifest themselves so easily.

And then there was ease.  There was ease in the nothingness and in the longing.  There was ease in the way I saw this place,  and all my struggles.  A lightness I haven’t felt around another human being in years, if ever.  A lightness that can only exist in the presence of everything a human being is:   his neurosis, psychosis, conquests, defeats, history, heartbreak, silliness, great ideas, idiocy.  His entire vulnerable form.

You made me conscious of the beauty that remains, even in rock bottom.

From the place you came from

Cars rushing past the house, which is not yours.  Traffic sounds, on an otherwise quiet centre town street.  You sit on someone else’s balcony, eyes on the view.  Buildings, so many buildings, probably built in the seventies.  Ugly, apartment complex buildings, nothing else.  A void settles in the midst of your ribcage.  Inhale, Exhale.  Air travels the tube, all the way through to your lungs, in a mechanically forced manner.  You feel it stalling, as you expand your abdomen to inhale deeper.  The weight of the breath traps in, the void fills, grows heavy.

I don’t want to be here.

10:40 on the clock, precisely 15:40 over there.  You think of the streets you’ve walked, a mere two weeks ago.  You think of the faces you saw, the excel spreadsheets you hated working on, the underground, the pubs, the nights out in Dalston, the parks you would go to soothe your busy mind, the meridian line, strolls through Brick Lane and that ethiopian vegan food stand, train commutes to the seaside, and even the 176.  You think of your flat and your housemate.  You think of that one evening in April when you both sat outside that old pub in Angel, staring at the street sign across from you, sharing your deepest thoughts and your respective neurosis with one another.  It was cold and rainy, but sitting outside that old pub in Angel, just felt like the most right thing to do.

You think of all the commutes to Euston, after work.  Ten minutes away from the station, there is a small Cyprian theatre, where a most inspirational 80 something year old man directs plays.   He rarely eats, sleeps, or drinks water, but you’ve never met anyone with more passion, drive and sense of absolute humanly possible internal freedom.  You remember all he months of intense rehearsal, and the liberation you felt during those two weeks of performing as a Dyonisian Initiate.   You then think of the panto you were part of, and all the silliness it came with it.  You think of all the amazing, talented, kind people you met, and remained friends with.   You wish them, and the city were polly-pocket sized, and that you could, wherever you find yourself, open it and indulge in all the goodness you found in those years spent in that place across the sea.

You think of Emma and the day you met her in that cat cafe.  It was two Octobers ago.  She wore her blue coat, you wore your multicoloured sweater, she complimented you on it.  She spoke about teaching, charity work, and other things.  You did not have a clue then what an integral role she came to play in your life.   It is funny like that, you never know where an afternoon latte in a cat cafe, or a walk across a bridge will take you.  For me, it took me all the way through some of the best years of my life, to a train commute to the airport, having a shoulder to cry on, and two solid hands to reassure me that everything will be okay.

You look at the clothes you’re wearing, and nothing remains of that place, except the trainers you bought in a shop in Camden, the first month you arrived.  The next morning, you ran across Waterloo Bridge, down to the Thames, running past the banks.  Those banks that carry the history of your thoughts.  Standing there, an evening in August, two years ago, looking at the view.  You felt so alone, remember?  You looked at the unfamiliar grand city before your eyes.  On one side, the parliament houses, the London eye and its blue lights; on the other the majestic sight of St Paul’s cathedral, the Gherkin and the Shard standing tall and proud.  Little did you know back then,  the memories to be on all those streets, by all those landmarks and sights.

A watched pot never boils

from archived files…

I took a walk in Hampstead Heath today amongst the bare trees and the occasional magpie.  The wind started to blow and it resurrected the leaves from the ground.  They started flowing, dancing before my eyes and for the first time in a long time, I was humbled by the scenery.  I sat on a bench and watched the spectacle, alone.  A few strangers passed by me, some were walking dogs, some were running, others were walking briskly, as if they had somewhere to be.

I sat and sat and sat for an hour or so, until the wind ceased.  I continued my way, without direction, unsure of where I was headed.  That is the great thing about Hampstead Heath, I don’t know it enough to know what is coming next.  I felt mentally exhausted, and emotionally jaded, but I knew it was a sorry state to be in, and so I tried very hard to get out of my head. I observed the brittle branches, I observed the pale gray skies, the ponds of water upon which ducks and rubbish were floating.   I think it was Bertrand Russell who wrote that introspection only leads to holding a personal diary and psychoanalysis.  Well, in my case, it is no longer introspection, as much as it is being completely, entirely, destructively self-involved.  My mind has been mostly blank lately, it frightens me.  I should probably take up solving riddles, completing the daily sudoku in the Evening Standard.  Yes, I will start doing that tomorrow.

Walking did not feel as therapeutic as it used to years ago.  I wish I could pretend it was the cold air that numbed me, but I am well aware that it would be lying to myself.  It was strange though, London city felt so far away.  Funny how something can be part of  and exclude that something at the same time.

I came upon dozens of dog walkers, their dogs had more personality and sass than themselves, I came upon a young guy balancing himself on a chord attached between two trees, I came upon a couple picnicking on a bench.  It made me want to get a dog, kiss that tree balancing boy and buy a cheap bottle of wine and ask you out on a picnic.

I then came to a vast hill, as vast as hills in a city can get, and there it was, the view of the entire London city presented itself in front of me.  I walked towards one of the unoccupied benches and sat, in the middle, facing the view.  London, from this distance looked soulless and empty.  The view omitted the beautiful bridges, the ever-flowing Thames, the liveliness that surrounds South Bank, the grand historical structures, the city parks, the millions of people, some with purpose, some without.  The view was grey,  two-dimensional, making it seem as if all buildings were glued to one another, yet I wished you had been there to watch it with me.  Would you even appreciate it, or would you demean it?  You would probably glance at it fast, point out where your house is, and in jitters tell me “Let’s go get beer now!”

A guy was sitting on the bench in front of me, with headphones on his ears.  Behind me, another guy was texting, or browsing the internet on his smartphone, who knows.  There we were, three complete strangers sharing the same view, a different moment.  I wondered about their lives and realities for at least a minute or two, but then my own problems started to rehearse in my brain again, like an automated message, that I could not even decipher because the voice was so robotic and the words were hastily mis-pronounced.

I gave you until midnight yesterday to reach out to me.  I have read years ago, somewhere, could be in a psychology textbook, or in Cosmopolitan, that I must give myself a time-limit to mourn.  It may be unfair to you, seeing as you are completely unaware of that time-limit, but I tried my best sending you cosmic vibrations.  I already practically lost my mind, so what else is there to lose by trying, right? Right…

On my way home from Hampstead, I stumbled upon George Orwell’s house!  I bet you have no clue who that is, you were never much of a great reader, or great mind in fact, but then again neither am I.  I think that’s why I liked you so much, from the instant I met you, you appeared as the perfect balance of stupidity and wit.  Everything came too easy, you listened to my theories as if I had something interesting to contribute by talking too much, and I quite enjoyed the slightly nasal sound your voice would produce and I enjoyed your convictions.  I enjoyed that you thought horoscopes were bullshit, but that there may be a god, I enjoyed the way you laughed at silly humour, yet I can’t recall the sound of your laugh anymore.  I liked that you could talk to me in an unapologetic and inconsiderate manner and that it would not make me feel uneasy or slightly insulted, that must have been a first, I’m quite the sensitive type.  Your brief presence in my life brought out this ease out of me, and I enjoyed that.  They do say that you fall harder for how a person makes you feel, than for their precise characteristics.  You did not make me feel special, you did not make me feel safe, yet I felt completely comfortable with how things were, and that right there, for an over-analytical person like me felt like the biggest accomplishment that I needed to hold on to.

And so I tried holding on to you.  I laughed at your jokes, I baked you chocolate chip cookies, I made you an origami horse – because you asked me to – I would answer the phone when  you would call, I maintained that safe distance so you keep allure of your freedom, and when I would see you, I’d hug you so hard, so you can feel something.  Truth be told, I did not even feel a like-love feeling, I just knew I had the potential to feel it one day.

I then rushed out of Hampstead, because my phone had no reception.  When I reached the Belsize Park area, I had no missed calls and no text messages, but a watched pot never boils.

You proved it to me that one night about a month ago.  I was out on the town with Stella.  We went to a new nightclub, I had no reception, and quite frankly did not care to know how your night was going. I met a guy, he looked like you, only younger, yet more mature.  His hair was sun-kissed and his eyes were blue.  I could always tell a person’s eye colour, even in the dark of a nightclub.   We danced, and we kissed.  He then took me by the hand and yelled out over the loud bass of the music: “I don’t want to fuck you, I want to eat your pussy.”  I nearly spat my gin out

“Excuse me?” I asked.

He then repeated, slowly, confirming I did not misunderstand, “I-want-to-eat-your-pussy.”

I started to laugh and then I said “But you don’t even know my name.”

“So?”, he said, with a blank expression on his face.

I knew I did not want anything to do with someone who did not care to know my name, but he amused me.

“You don’t have to reciprocate”, he announced.

I laughed even harder.

“Listen, I’ll come over to your place, I will pleasure you, and I will leave.  That is it” he persisted.

Agreeing crossed my mind, but I was not the slightly bit excited at the thought of having a stranger over.  I have done it before and nothing came out of it but a post-one-night stand shame and seasonal depression.

“Thank you but no thank you.”

He then went into how he doesn’t believe in reciprocity and how he finds it demeaning.  I did not quite understand his arguments, they seemed like drunk gibberish and empty words, but he kept on with his new age monologue.

My mind drifted towards you, being the only person I would want to see at the end of a night out. I left the blue-eyed boy and went to look for Stella.  Thinking she had already left the club, I got my coat and decided to walk home.  Upon exiting the club, I had two missed calls from you and three text messages, it read “We should meet up at the end of the night” , “I miss you” and a sad smilie face.

Those stupid emojis tend to mean so much in this day and age!

The last time I saw you, I felt like it was the last time I’d see you. We stood on the platform, you told me that I was the most interesting outcome of all and that you want to get to know all sides of me.  My train approached, you gave me a soft kiss and said goodbye, but before you could walk away, I embraced you once more and then walked to the car, sat inside, and watched you walk away with a strange pressure in my chest.

Now it’s half past three in the afternoon, and the lanterns are already starting to light up.  A child passing by waves at me, and I wave back.  I walk up the High Street, to my apartment, go straight into my room, sit on my bed and stare at nothing outside my window.

The stuff that remains

There was a river on a cold day in winter, ornamented by deserted banks, flowing on.  There was a glorious bridge from the 1800 on which we stood to watch the water, two quasi-strangers.  You were everything at once that day.  You spoke with eloquence about how you’re convinced you’ve once seen a ghost.  I laughed.  The rain kept on pouring.  Our feet and hair got wet.  We found a café.  You couldn’t eat that day, I think I made you nervous.  ‘If you could live in a parallel reality where everything is as real as it is here, and  everyone as you know them would exist, but things would be as you want them to, or this one which would you pick?’ You asked.  Without hesitation I told you I’d choose the alternate reality.  You made me feel nervous when you said that my friends and family would miss me here.  I felt selfish I didn’t think of that before.   I always felt a strange sense of novelty and familiarity in your calm nervousness.  Your presence was comforting.

There were dreams made out of stuff, albeit intangible.  They stayed in our heads most of the time, as to preserve them intact.  Untouched.  On some occasions however, such as during long hours of insomnia, mornings during which the harsh English sun would fill the room, or Friday evenings on which you or I would get off that train which would lead us to one another, those dreams would escape our lips. We would tarnish them with pretence, vulgar words,  names of places, ifs, wants and will be’s.  You’d speak, I’d listen. Then you would listen and I’d speak.  They were dreams of foreign places, towns where neither of us had stepped foot in before.  There were seas and country sides, there were roadtrips, my hometown, and a little house by the South coast of France.  You will get your license and we will buy a cheap car and then we will set off and drive.   We will drive through all of Europe, to nowhere in particular. We will eat ripe fruit on the way, and will get crappy jobs to sustain us.  Then we will fly away, and find a small apartment in the centre of the city.   I will be at yoga while you will write.  We will drive to see koalas, and roam from coffee shop to coffee shop in search of that perfect flat white, or soy latte.  We will swim and get tans.  We will eat so much ripe fruit…

There was touch, filled with a sense of purpose and determination.  Hands brushing through tangled hair; fingers entwining; bodies longing to merge into one another; eyes on eyes, fixated, as if to try to catch a glimpse of that thing they call ‘soul’.  There was a need, a need that was not rationalised, nor thought through, a very urging need we absolutely had to succumb to.

There were streets and roads others have walked, in towns where we too left our mark.  Cathedral ceilings, old coasters in local bars, empty bottles of cider and a made up boy and girl, talking in seven different accents.  They always made us laugh so loud, I cannot even remember the names we gave them now.  Then there were forests and fields with grass that went up to our knees.  By the lake, two men were fishing, you said we needed to be quiet or we would scare the fish away.  I didn’t want him to catch any fish, and so I spoke loudly, as it comforted me knowing no fish will die before my eyes that day.  There were hills in the smallest of towns and a cemetery where Sylvia’s body lies.  There was pouring rain and a deserted pub where I told you I thought your personality type was ‘INFJ’ and urged you to do the myers-briggs test to see.  I guessed it right.  I wasn’t sure if it was a lucky coincidence, a sense of intuition I did not know I had, or that indiscernible thing that made me feel like I knew your essence.

There were songs exchanged, books to read, and those we said we’d write.  I have changed the plot of mine several times since then, and you, you may never start yours.  There were jobs to do, and applications to be sent on days when we would part.  All the mornings spent sleeping in and nights spent laying awake, we would tell stories until sleep came.  There was a shared birthday we never celebrated, and the day you took the train so we could celebrate our 10,000 days of life.  There were candles in the room, and wrapping paper with tiny hearts, a notebook in which you wrote, an envelope of stuff.  And all the laughs, and silences and fears of everything we could be, an ego to preserve in a body shaped container, putting everything on pause.

There was a river on a cold day in winter, ornamented by deserted banks, flowing on.

You are not broken, you’re loving

The other day, I was early for a meeting, and so while trying to kill time,  I caught myself judging myself.  ‘Why did you let this go on for so long?’ ‘Why do you respond in this way and not that way?’ ‘Why are you thinking these things or replaying scenarios?’ etc etc.  It’s less than empathetic, and full of judgement and quite frankly, spite.  It always strikes me by surprise when I catch myself talking to myself that way, because I am not a spiteful person and I am not an impatient person with other people’s feelings and complexities, but for some reason I inflict this mental abuse onto myself.  As soon as I caught myself doing it that day, another part of me jumped out and almost screamed on the top of my lungs (internally of course) ‘Stop viewing yourself as pathetic, you just really really care(d) about this person and about this situation!’ It is amusing how complex we all are, there I was, me and my multiple entities having a debate about what acceptable thoughts and feelings are and aren’t, all that right before a very important meeting.  My internal dialogues are the strongest in matters of love.  The best way I can sum up my stance about it is as follows:

I am scared shitless of love and of loving, yet I cannot help but love.

The older I get, the bigger the fear gets, the more the complexities of uncertainty overwhelm me, but they never phase me enough to hold me back from feeling the AWESOME spectrum of feelings we are capable of.  They have not once deterred my capacity to love and to give and share that love.  And yes, sure that love is sometimes unrequited, and sometimes it extends itself past the due date the other person has attributed to it, and sometimes the other person doesn’t recognise, or worse, cares for what it is you’re handing them because of their own limitations.  None of those circumstances matter as they should not demean your own capability to love and feel these incredible feelings.  There is no foolishness in your thoughts, no matter how many times you have recycled the same stories in your head over and over again.  Sure there comes a point when you need to direct that love towards yourself, and at that point you will most likely start moving on, but let it be a natural process.  Don’t force it by putting your thoughts and emotions down.  It is okay for you to cry, it is okay for you to suffer, it is okay to feel so low, it will pass, and one day you will look back at this time and think to yourself how amplified all of your experiences were, because these grand emotions replaced that numbness brought by routine and by taking things in life for granted.  Nothing is wrong with you, you are just full of feelings and that is a beautiful trait to have in a world where we’re all too distracted to feel.  ‘But you’re just being foolish now, the other person has moved on.‘  Well ego my friend, it isn’t about them this time, is it?  It is about yourself.  It is about doing things and feeling things at your own pace, in your own time, it is about honouring yourself and your experience.  The heartbreak is not theirs, it is yours and yours alone, you own it, and you are entitled to every single cryfest you need to have.

One of my friends, who’s wise way above her years, wrote me a beautiful message yesterday.  I feel like it needs to be quoted somewhere.  She wrote:

‘The way I see it is that it shows that the love that you had for him is not something he can take away.  Because he simply acted as a catalyst for you to feel those feelings – to feel the depth you’re capable of.  You have such an open heart, with so much to give.  And being with him has given you an idea of the capacity you have.  It is the difference between looking at yourself as a person who has loved, and seeing yourself as someone who can love – who loves.  And let’s face it, he’s actually not the best catalyst.  Imagine what you could feel for someone who felt the same for you, or rather, who felt the same and was strong enough to fight for it.’

On Your Own (part 2)

*Note, I had written this the day I wrote the previous post and thought I scheduled it to go live that same week…well three weeks later now, here it is*

I’ve mentioned in the previous post the fact that one of the harshest feelings after a break up is facing yourself in your most imperfect, possibly weakest form.  I can only speak for myself, but as the highly emotional being that I am, it has never been easy for me to distance myself from a situation, or from emotions resulting from that situation.  I tend to unfortunately often times dwell in them.  That in turn makes it very hard (although, certainly  not impossible) for me to rationalize myself in moments when I feel less than enough.  After a break up that happened a few days ago, I made a point to surround myself with people every single day.  I did not feel the strength to face myself and my feelings alone, and I was very vocal about that to my friends, or anyone who would listen, to my own surprise.  I normally consider myself quite independent, but I do think that people and interpersonal relationships are the most precious things in this world, and so I don’t particularly feel any weaker being vocal about the dependence I need in this moment.

I am very fortunate enough to have very great, patient, attentive and inspiring people in my life, who all have something different to bring to me, particularly during hard times, when I have absolutely nothing to give in return.   They let me cry in front of them, cry in public, and most importantly, never make me feel uncomfortable, or as if my emotions were too much or unjustified.  I’m not sure how I’ve scored such friends, in this city, or back home, but I am very very fortunate that I did, and that in turn made me immensely humbled by their kindness and caring persona.  They understand and don’t judge when I go from laughter to tears within an amount of minutes, or from optimism to complete despair in one singe day, multiple times a day.  They take me to cat cafes, picnics, sing me songs, force me to eat croissants, go with me to plays,  recommend me books, and let me be sad without pressuring me out of it.  They text me checking up on me, and e-mail  me from abroad with no bullshit philosophies, but the reassurance that they know I will be okay.  As a natural extrovert, these people and these relationships in turn not only make me feel less lonely, but just simply nurture me and are mending me a bit faster than I’d be able to mend myself in my own head.

That said, today is the first day I am spending alone since then, and although I woke up teary eyed this morning (just like the others), I am now sitting in a cafe, drinking an americano with my own thoughts.  The strangers passing by all have a smile on their face, and are either drunkenly happy because their favourite team has won the FA cup, or because it is a sunny day in a normally gray city.  How can I not feel reassurance from such a scene!

There are moments, like right now, when I find myself with a rather unfamiliar sense of comfort, a comfort that startles me, particularly given the circumstances.  Something in me is letting me dream, and makes me feel like I can choose what I want to do, where I want to go and what I would like to be.  I don’t remember the last time I felt that freedom of choice, or more precisely, I don’t remember the last time that I let myself feel like I had access to all the choice.  Yesterday, while sitting through a play, I realized how important the cliché ‘the most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself’ is.  And to be quite frank, I am feeling quite excited to finally start having that positive, nurturing and understanding relationship with myself.

When it comes to my recently discovered will for companionship, something in me makes me feel like I will connect with another person on that very intimate and emotional level again, and that one day that person will be on the same page as I am.  Someone who will comfort me as much as I comfort them, who will not get offended by my sense of humour, or get embarrassed when I sing out loud to a song that a busker is playing on the street, someone who will care about me as much as they care about themselves and who will show it in a way that is reassuring to me.  That vision could be a defense mechanism, but the fact that I can imagine that is such a pleasant surprise coming from a normally pessimistic mind.   With those thoughts, I feel as if I had been given the opportunity to reset myself, for I was emptied of everything I wanted, gave, and thought was going to be, or not be, not by him, but just the circumstances accompanying a break up.   And now, here I am, a blank slate, unsure about what to do, or where to go, but there is such bittersweet feeling that comes in the midst of the heartbreak that just anything could happen.

A guide to how to smile

  • Drink a liter of green juice that you have made yourself, out of vegetables, that you unfortunately did not grow.
  • Shower, immerse yourself in the smell of lush products.  How could the scent of  honey / citrus not make you feel slightly less miserable?
  • Wear your best Sunday dress.  Why wouldn’t you.
  • Go out and get as caffeinated as your body can handle it, it is impossible to have coherently sad thoughts on caffeine.
  • Take a walk through the park and enjoy the smell of lilies
  • Buy yourself flowers, because no one else will.
  • Make plans for the summer, make sure it involves a lot of summer festivals, parks and gigs.
  • Make plans for after the summer, because you have to move, and not knowing where you’re going is stressing the crap out of you.
  • E-mail your mom and dad and tell them how beautiful they look on the selfie they have texted you yesterday.
  • Tell your best friend that everything will be okay and that you will always be there for her.
  • Write your friends letters that you will post tomorrow.
  • Try to find a cat on the street to pet, or if that fails, google photos of cats.
  • Make cake, and if you can’t be bothered, just eat cake. any cake.
  • Sing out loud, because you have the house to yourself.
  • Practice Leonard Cohen songs on your purple ukulele while there is no one there to judge you.
  • Read Fernardo Pessoa and smile because, well….a lot of other humans feel the way you feel, ain’t nothin’ unique about that, and that my friend is a very very beautiful, universal, human truth that should make you feel part of a collective whole and that should take you out of your own wrapped thoughts.

Sing some more.


You will never be to some what you are to others

There are some people who will, from the beginning, find out about your authentic self in its fully raw form.  The self that has multiple personalities all clashing with one another, that comes with destruction, beauty, over analysis, incoherence, aspirations, hopelessness, a stagnant sense of being a non entity, an overwhelming feeling of being part of a collective whole, and of being in and being the universe, both at once.  It drives you from point A to point B and then back to point A again, in entwined circles in your mind.  The self locked inside your cranium, feeding off patterns of previous fragments of thoughts, fragments of feelings, starts to weight heavy, like a deep dark secret that only starts making sense when it manifests into clumsy words during a conversation with another fellow being.

Until then, it is nonsense.

And then, there are people who will only know fractions of you.  You show them what it is what they want to see, what it is that they evoke out of you, carefully guarding the hundreds of mad facets that could bring you closer to that person, but that could also bring you closer to complete eventuality of destruction.  You are not ready to witness your great fall, not just yet.  And perhaps one day you will offer them the gift of your madness on a plate, but until then, you will feel like a fraud, like Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde, everytime you smile, or laugh, or feel genuine happiness, or content in their presence.  You will feel like you’re conning that person into thinking that is all you are, happiness and content.  You, with your joie de vivre so blatantly expressive in your eyes, in your laugh, in the way you marvel at sights, or have the ability to recall the most perfect memories!  That side of you will drive you further into darkness, even when at your happiest, because you are unable to accept and nurture your own inconsistent states.  And you will, in passing, mutter out ‘I am not always happy’, just to let out an indication of your deep dark secret, and then resume laughing, thinking to yourself that they too are human, after all.

You will never be to some what you are to others, in the same fashion you will not, to yourself, be tomorrow who you are today.

The Beauty in your Existential Crisis

I was sitting with a good friend on a busy street last night.  Rain was drizzling as we sat beneath the rooftop of a pub, sipping on Blue Moon.  ‘The world is so depressing without the internet to distract me from my mind’, I voiced out.  I went on about being as lost as ever, after all, it comes and goes in waves.  When it comes, that feeling of absolute nothingness overtakes my brain, and everything about this world and life seems insipid.  Why bother to love, why bother to try, why bother to be!  Without some distractions, it is hard to sit in your overwhelming sense of loneliness.  It is hard to acknowledge how greedy your mind is and how you fail to practice gratitude for all the good things in your life and all the choices that led you where you are, and how where you are is exactly where you need to be. Instead, a voice in your head repeats, louder and louder ‘Is this all there is?’

Every now and then in the midst of that darkness and complete loss of purpose and meaning, you find peace in ‘Yes this is all there is.’  It makes you feel, even if for the brief instant of that realisation, that you are not fundamentally flawed, you are not wasting your life away, you are doing exactly what you want to do, but failing to realize it, failing to acknowledge it.

See, when that peace comes in, you suddenly feel filled with the ability to observe and take it all in.  The heaviness in your chest dissolves with every conscious glimpse you take on the world:  The homeless man on the street stopping you in your train of thought that one rainy evening to tell you Irish jokes in exchange of a pound coin, the dog who decides to make eye contact with you, the way that rain is tapping on the old London streets, the street sign before you,  your friend’s philosophies, the French music, the simple fact that this moment is exactly what life is!

You know that a year from now you will remember that moment, and you will remember it fondly.  That thought is enough to ease your over-analytical brain into the reality that this is all there is!  Life is not some grand scheme of linear progress, it rarely has a purpose.  The only coherence that life as we experience it has is found in a series of moments, in human interconnectedness, in the ability to share your neurosis, your banal suffering and your senselessness with another human being.

You are one of those people who, if you could, would divide themselves in thousands of entities…

When I was a child,  I spent weekends in one house and week days in another.  My parents are not divorced, but both, my mom and my dad had jobs in another city.  I was therefore raised by my grandma, my granddad, two of my aunts and my one uncle five days out of the week.  It was a full house in the country with a quite communal feel to it.  Despite being under five at the time, I have very vivid memories of those days.
I tend to digress, and so I was going to elaborate about the chickens, the cow and the sheep, the various fruit trees and vegetables growing in my grandma’s garden, and the many ways I found to amuse myself, but I think that is beyond the point.
When I was five, I moved countries, because of oh you know, circumstances such as a civil war.  Then, a few days after I turned eight, I moved countries again.  From there on, I moved provinces, cities, houses, and well, countries again!
Today, decades and three languages later, I feel like what one would call ‘citizen of the world.‘  My roots are spread here and there, and I took with me a part of all the places where I’ve been to and lived in.  My stay in England is going to end eventually, and I realize that, thanks to all the people I met, routines I have developed, places I’ve seen, the day I leave London, I will feel like I left a bit of me here.  Isn’t that what the sense of home is?  In a figurative manner, a big chunk of my heart is where my family and friends are, another is where my childhood memories are, and others are all the places where I’ve made new memories that my sentimental mind will think of with fond nostalgia.
I no longer feel guilty about being scattered or ‘all-over-the-place’ and that lack of guilt is probably what makes life seem easier.  As my dad once put it :  ‘You are one of those people who, if you could, would divide themselves in thousands of entities and be everywhere at the same time.‘ That was his parental criticism, but he was entirely right, and so I didn’t know how to contest, I just smiled in agreement.  Is that really so wrong?  Being older and somewhat wiser than I was even just a year ago, I say no, but I can only speak for myself in this case.  We all have different neurosis preventing us from sleeping at night, or triggering heart attack-like feelings during day time. The trick is in finding peace of mind with decisions made, or uncontrollable circumstances.   There is peace in lack of direction, as it takes you to the realization that you can go where you want to go, and live this life exactly how your mind pleases in a given moment.  And that is exactly what life is: a series of moments!  So as long as you are alive, you have power to change, to grow, to be!  There is no linear progress that needs to take place, and there is no regression, only moments, all different from one another, all turning you into a different individual from the one you were yesterday.   Whoever objects to you willingly accepting the uncertainty in your life, will eventually get over it.  Whoever fears for you, let them, but don’t make their fears yours.  There are millions of people who view life with the same type of philosophy you view it, and so go out and meet them, and submerge yourself in their energy.


In the Future Tense

If you disappear tomorrow I would call in sick at work.  I wouldn’t eat, I couldn’t eat.  I’d have instant coffee and would pace around the house.  Maybe I’d paint the cracks in my walls, maybe I’d paint my nails a pretty colour.  If you disappear tomorrow, I would lay motionless on my bed for half the day, staring at the ceiling, until I would talk to myself out loud to snap out of it.  I wouldn’t go on social media at all, and I wouldn’t care to know what the current situation in the Ukraine is.   By the end of the day, I would have written at least a dozen of poems about you that I wouldn’t write today because today I’m happy, and I never write poems when I’m happy.

If you disappear tomorrow, I would listen to Tori Amos on repeat, followed by Françoise Hardy.  I would sing out loud.   I would cry and spend the day avoiding my housemates to not have to explain why I’m red eyed and dishevelled.  I would take the longest and hottest shower and just stand there, staring through the water with eyes vacant.  Knowing myself I’d break down in tears uncontrollably, and then  I’d think how it reminds me of a scene in Girl Interrupted, or a similar movie that I have seen in the past.

I would fall asleep, eventually.

On Saturday I would wake up early because of the heavy feeling in my chest.  I’d have another coffee, and perhaps toast.  I’d dress myself and go for a walk on Brick Lane.  I’d avoid looking at couples and avoid looking at places where we’ve been together.  I’d think of going to walk by the Thames, but then would decide against it, because it would remind me of that one day with you when everything was a possibility.   I would head to a coffee shop and write.  I’d write about hope, I’d rationalise every bit of emotion overtaking my body, and I’d write about how one day this won’t matter.   Then I’d get that heavy feeling in my chest again and would message every person in the city that I would want to see and make plans with for the rest of the week. That night, I would put make up on and go drink whiskey with a friend, in a random pub.  I’d talk about you a lot, repetitively.

Sunday I would wake up with a hangover, which would distract me from the heaviness in my chest.  I’d step outside my house and buy flowers from the flower market.  Then I’d go to the drugstore and buy pink and purple hair dye and I’d ombré my hair pink again, while listening to my good old spotify list ‘we meet again my heartache.’  I’d smirk at the thought that all love songs and heartbreak songs are so generic, I’d laugh at no matter how concentrated the pain or the passion, and how unique our experiences feel, human feelings are generic.  My flatmates would bake me chocolate chip cookies, because by then I would have told them, and that’s something they would do.

If you disappear tomorrow, I would buy a one way ticket to Melbourne with my savings, for five months from now.  That would chase the terrible sense of dread for at least a few minutes.  I would e-mail all my friends abroad and have detailed skype sessions with them.  I’d avoid my mom, she’d ask too many questions that I wouldn’t want to answer.   If you disappear tomorrow, I would go see as many plays as I could and eat as much cake as my appetite would permit.  I would make plans for the summer and you wouldn’t be in them.  I would spend weekends in other towns than yours and would go to the planetarium with a new person.  I would blog every day, because last time I was heartbroken, I blogged every day, and I’m an individual of pattern.

If you disappear tomorrow, I would finish translating some ted talks, and then I would build a portfolio and apply for freelancing positions.  I would make a plan to send ten applications a day until something would come along.  And something is bound to come along if you try, right?

If you disappear tomorrow I would reactivate my ok cupid profile and go on pointless dates that would fill some of my lonely evenings with some form of entertainment.  I would talk with them about everything but you.  If you disappear tomorrow, I would make a point to run every day by the canal.  I would go to bed and fall asleep effortlessly, completely physically exhausted.

Eventually summer would come and I’d spend evenings after work picnicking in Hyde Park and on weekends, I’d take the train to Brighton.  My hair will be a bit blonder and my skin a bit more tan.  By the end of the summer, I would be in another country.  I would then think of what it would be like to be there with you, and quickly, the thought would disappear, because I would be too busy figuring the rest of my life out.

But I don’t think you’ll disappear tomorrow, and that thought makes me happy, as frail as that reality could potentially be.  The fear of abandoning myself in you, in us, the rational thought process of heavy cautiousness is never fully departing me.  But if you disappear tomorrow, I know that I would live on, no matter how broken and hopeless I would feel.  And writing this out puts me into perspective: allowing you in my dreams, and in my imagined plans is not what would break me.  And so, I, finally, consciously am going to let my mind do the thing that used to be so natural to it back when it was naturally vulnerable and had child-like naivety and hope about love:  daydream about us in the future tense.

The Feelings that Come and Go

I concluded I am finally okay with growing old.  The longer I bathe in this sense of living, the easier living feels.  Heartbreak, loss, unpremeditated twists of fate, they quickly morph from that heavy feeling in my chest into a lightness of being.  I used to be of opinion that some things in life never get easier, and perhaps, they never really do.  But I now have a different way of treating those feelings.  They trigger neurosis, they trigger psychosis at times, but I am fully conscious that they’re fickle and come to pass.  And with that realisation, lightness appears.
I remember the times when I felt like I could never be without that somebody, when I felt emotionally tied to things or people, when the end of us would pain every cell in my body to the point where I would feel like I was suffocating in my own being. When things ended, I would lay motionless in my room, staring at the walls, bathing in sadness, rehearsing sadness, training my body to grow dependent on that state.  I know better now.  I know that, throughout those emotions, I have come to a different place, and that life and circumstances led me to different people and different experiences, that I am so grateful for.  I am aware that this sense of hardship is the biggest blessing one can experience, and I am no longer interested in fighting it.
I don’t think I’ve grown jaded, I feel. I feel a wide range of powerful emotions, in full connection with every little thing in this world and with every little thought in my head.  I think I just interpret those emotions in a whole different manner.
I don’t consider myself particularly resilient, but I managed to get to a point in my life where I finally realise the meaning of ”self-sufficient”.  I don’t deny my dependence on other people, for they bring joy and laughs in my life, they level me and we feed off each other in order to grow and morph into people who we are today, and who we will be in ten thousand days of time.  Yet, I cannot imagine going through one single thing that would leave me permanently scarred or broken. No mourning, no end is finality.
Still, this doesn’t prevent me from overanalysing everything.  That is just a trait that I have yet learned to kick, or may never kick.  The great thing is that now, I get to overanalyse those everythings in a different light.  ‘Everything happens for a reason’.  It truly does. Everything happens for the reason of who you will become, and what action you will take once that something happens, and the place that action will lead you to.  I sit here, with a certain weight in my chest, caused by uncertainity.  And although that weight persists, it is so grand to realise that despite what happens or doesn’t happen, I will be okay.

Your life is good

Your life is good, because you slept in as long as you pleased, and now you’re sitting in your room, on a Saturday morning, with absolutely no obligations but to entertain yourself.  Your room is clean and freshly painted, and your skin smells like papaya&mango from the shower you just took.  Coffee tastes good, and the view from your window gives on a sunny and busy street.  The laundry machine is on and Arcade Fire is playing on your macbook.  Your phone buzzes, and flashes a message from someone that makes you feel like a 15 year old schoolgirl.

Your life is good because you have people who care to know how you are, they ask you about your life, no matter how far or how close they live in relation to you.  And you care about them.  More than you imagined you would care, a mere 5 years ago.   You have spent years building strong connections, and realising that life is about those connections, and despite where in the world you or they find themselves, you will still pick up the phone to text, or to have a skype session filled with laughters and shared concerns.  Your life is good because, as guilty as you feel about not doing what your parents want you to do, and as worried as you make them feel, you have parents who care and who have always cared, in their own way.  And if everything you pursue somehow one day fails and leaves you empty handed, you know that for as long as they’re alive, you have a refuge.

Your life is good because you met and continue to meet people who leave a trace in the book of your life.  They make you smile, laugh, you spend evenings and weekends indulging in each other’s company, and losing yourselves in stories and aspirations.  You meet them in a foreign country, on a trip you pursue on your own.  You stay with them for a while, and go your separate ways.  You think that there are so many great people you have yet to meet, who will one day come your way and stay, even if for a brief moment.

Your life is good because you travel.  You travel as much as you possibly can, and there are so many cities and lands to be seen.  There are so many birds left to observe, so many paths to walk, and that feeling of lightness, that can only come from finding yourself before a beautiful scenery to fill you in all its humility.

Your life is good because you live in one of the most beautiful and grand cities of the world, in the greatest neighbourhood of that city, on a street that caters to your every need.  Your worries consist of where to find the best red thai curry, or what museum to spend this afternoon in.  You go on walks, through parks, through streets, and everything still feels so new and novel, years later.  While, this is temporary, so is everything else, and so you finally feel at peace that this is now, and now is all there is.

Your life is good because you’re worried about not having the capacity to worry about the future.  You’re worried that one day the inevitable will happen: death of a loved one, poverty, depression.  But while these are all eventual, and sometimes inevitable outcomes, they are not part of your nowness.  And you feel at peace that life is not a linear path, it is a circular web, that entwines possibilities, and to’s and fro’s, that goes forward and backtracks and then turns left or right, and there is no such thing as regression as long as you are living.

Your life is good, because the worst that could happen is going to happen, and will happen to everyone.  The worst is out of your control, it is granted to you in an unpremeditated moment, and it doesn’t ask for your opinion.  And when the worst happens, the only thing you will be left with on your mind is how good your life was.

Like-love Take 2

Fireworks are going off.  Every bang more spectacular and grand than the other, and then, always unexpectedly, it ceases.  You stand there in the middle, on some urban hill not far from your apartment, watching the multicoloured light soften the darkness of the skies, and then fade into them, blown away by the wind.

Something about the boy drew you to walk towards him and ask him about his life.  It could have been his tranquility that seems to have an immediate calming effect on your overactive brain.  It could have been the night itself, or the bottle of sparking wine you shared,  you’re unsure, but something made you walk towards him with certainty that it is what needs to be done.  You stand next to him, by the fence, watching the sky grow darker, behind the city buildings.  ”Tomorrow we’ll see pictures of the fireworks in the papers, and they will look nothing like what we saw today,” you tell him to strike up a conversation.  He says something, you’re not sure what it was anymore, you haven’t memorised it.  He gets closer and tells you how about what he did four years ago, he tells you about the books he reads and the music he listens to, he speaks about how sad he was last year this time, he tells you how sometimes feels so young, and then so old.  It makes no sense.  You relate.  He starts telling you how he turned twenty-seven a few months ago.  You both realise you share the same birthday, and laugh at the coincidence, wondering which one of you is lying.  He asks you if your view of the world is based on science or magic, and something about that question softens your cynicism briefly, while you ask him to explain what magic is.

You decide to cut the conversation short and head back, your friends are waiting on you on, and they must be cold, so you head to a bar.  There, you have tequila and whisky, until one of them is too sick to go on with the night, and so you go back to your place, make the bed for him and your common friend to sleep on and say goodnight.  You go to bed alone, with a sense of sadness that as alcohol evaporates from your bodies, so will the moment and the certain sense of connection you shared the night before.

Morning comes, you walk over to your kitchen.  He comes down, and you talk. You decide to head out for a walk, just him and you.  The banks of the Thames are almost overflowing.   You walk across the Tower Bridge.   It’s raining heavily and your feet get wet.  You decide to stop for coffee.  It strikes you how comfortable you are sharing random thoughts and being in silence with him.  Night comes, and you walk to London Bridge where you part ways, he to take his train, you to meet a friend for dinner.  You say goodbye, and as you turn around and start to walk, he shouts ”Hey…If you ever feel like coming up North for a trip, let me know.”  Two weeks later, you go.

The heartbreak that shaped you

Years ago, I used to write a blog, a bit more intricate, a bit less concrete, and a bit easier to update than this one, because it was written in a diary format.  I wrote  almost every single day, it wasn’t much of a chore, my mind was urging me to write.   There was no other way.  I was filled with a very unique type of sadness, the sadness that differs from the day to day apathy.  My first post was called ‘The End‘ and  written in the following words:

”Don’t say too much, say just enough…or barely anything actually. Just. Enjoy. This.  Don’t speak, unless it’s to say something that has nothing to do with anything. Shades of purple and green projected on the immense monuments, we walk the dark hills…And I feel alone in the universe with you. ‘I love you,’ I whispered, and it got to your end of the echoing monument, you laughed and whispered it back…it echoed. We walked through statues, views of bridges and cities, rivers, galleries…stray cats. A gazillion of stars were lighting up the sky. ‘The flickering star is mars’, you told me. It felt like this was the very first date, the one we never had, or should have had.  We both had a cold, walking in our recycled clothes, and our messy locks. I was never one to pay attention to apparence, and neither were you.  ‘Let’s go’ you said abruptly, as I was enjoying the sounds and the lights, and the images that were being projected. My bus came right away, you kissed me goodnight, and we parted…We always hated parting before tonight.  On my way back, I tried spotting Mars.  It looked closer than ever, from this side of the river.”

I documented that heartbreak, practically every single day.  Gradually, with time, the theme progressed.  It wasn’t my first relationship, nor was it the longest, but something about it made it the most intense one in my mind.  Perhaps it was the state that I was in, that I never found myself in again.  The hopelessness, the tears, the emptiness, the darkness were all novel, and I explored them in full consciousness, rehearsing the same idea over and over again, in words and posts all different from one another, until there was nothing left to explore.

Perhaps my love for that person was simply based on the novelty of those emotions and nothing else.  I haven’t felt that broken ever since.  A part of me misses the fullness felt in my stomach, the nights spent sleeping next to my housemate because I couldn’t bear to sleep alone, it misses the pain that lasted longer than the ‘love’ itself did, it misses how every sad song intensified the sadness to a point of feeling unable to handle the rush of nothingness navigating its way through my brain and manifesting itself in my every gesture and my every sight.

In hindsight, I cannot quite tell if it was having my heart broken, or just the overactive 22 year old mind of mine, but one day in the summer, on a bus in Ireland, I found myself changed.  As if the two seasons spent mourning over the potential pretence of something have altered the composition of my every cell. I had metamorphosed.  And so, although years have erased those feelings, and I tell that story in a comical and rather satirical tone to my friends now, those two seasons during that one year were the most defining two seasons in the last decade of my life.  It was then that everything I once knew about myself, about life, about love, about the world had departed me, and I was left in a quasi tabula rasa state of affairs.  That feeling and realisation was worth every second of darkness.

A Recap of my 2013

I decided to stop to think (thing I fail to do nowadays) and to summarise this past year in the laziest fashion I could: a bullet point format.

  • Dyed my hair pink in January
  • Took random day trips to places such as Brighton, Stratford upon Avon, Leamington Spa, Windsor
  • Had my friends, my parents and my aunts visit me
  • Got a little heart broken
  • Got a new job
  • Had the honour to be in my first Wedding Party
  • Visited NYC and home
  • Went back to Edinburgh and to Paris
  • Got involved in theatre again and took part in two plays
  • Made a lot of new friends and made very good friends
  • Said a few goodbyes to people who left London
  • Spent my birthday walking Regent Park with a stranger who shared the same birthday as mine, then had a lovely dinner
  • Saw a lot of Pete Doherty
  • Took up juicing
  • Saw Leonard Cohen again
  • Went to Italy again and visited some places I haven’t been to before
  • Started understanding the concept of ‘being in the moment’ a bit more than before
  • Moved to a new place with the best location
  • Spent end of December hiking in Bavaria with my family

You spoke of now

We will never sit on the lawn in the Brixton square and watch the sun set behind the clock tower again.  I knew it back then, but it still feels like a new idea in hindsight.  Everything was so tangible then!  It wasn’t that long ago you see, the autumn had come, and we both wore our jackets, but still, the crisp air didn’t phase us. And so we sat outside on the lawn, not far from the buskers and the homeless, until midnight.  You spoke of now, you spoke of goodness, your naive wisdom resonated within me and during that one night, I felt young again.
There was nothing deeper than that moment between us, nothing to romanticize, except two humans opening their hearts and speaking of their fears in the most vulnerable and honest manner.  Some people have the talent to bring something like that out of you.  They have the talent to share, listen and inspire.
When we said goodbye that night, I felt light again, and that’s when I realised that feelings and impressions come and go, the same way people do.  I fell asleep that night with that thought and left it untouched until today.  Today, you’re crossing the ocean, you’re on your way back home.  Knowing it’s the end of your own personal adventure, knowing that you are not somewhere in this city makes me terribly long for that moment in Brixton Square, when we drank cider from the bottle, climbed trees and watched the sun set over the clock tower.

Now is Now

I cannot believe it’s been almost 4 months since my last post!  How time flew!  It is precisely that realisation that brings me here this evening.

This evening I had a good conversation over japanese food with a new friend.  ”My visa expires in August”, I muttered out, and as soon as I said it, I felt nervousness.  I felt like, despite everything I’ve done, I’ve wasted the past 16 months dwelling on things.  I spent a lot of time dwelling about my family and friends not being here, then I dwelled on the fact that I didn’t have as much money as I wish I did, about failed non-relationships, about still being as confused as ever about what I want out of this life, but mostly, I’d dwell on the fact that I’m dwelling.  Counterproductive ”innit’‘!

Yet time doesn’t give a flying fuck, and it doesn’t await for you to be done dealing with things in your head.  I guess it’s part of the human experience, to bathe in primitive feelings, and to aspire to have it all figured out…but to never ever figure much out.  Still, there comes a time when you have to consciously train your brain to simply call it quits.  I suppose having limited time inspires you the impermanence of everything.  It makes you view things in awe and focus on nowness.  And I guess, that is what I intend to do with the remaining time I have left, focus on now.

I felt like I got to London just the other day.  In a way, I feel like the same person, and also like a completely different person.  In a way, I feel both, more and less brave about the future.

Somedays, I want to go back home and hug my family and friends, take a long walk in the Maisonneuve park with my mom and dad and tell them how these past years have shaped me, sit in a cosy coffee shop with my sister while watching snow fall and listen to her stories about her patients, but I know that distance makes the heart grow fonder.  Days like today, I want to stay here, and explore every inch of my new east London neighbourhood, buy flowers from the Columbia market every Sunday for the years I have left to live, listen to all the different accents, drink coffee from all the random coffee shops, continue meeting incredible characters, keep on going to pubs more days a week than I should, continue living in a city where age and social expectations are barely existent…But there is only so much red wine that my liver can handle, before it puts me into perspective: Whether this should last or not, this is now, so live it as such, live it as fully as your entire core permits.

The first four seasons in London (part 2)

The 10 steps someone like me takes when they get to London:

The days that followed my arrival consisted of me wandering around the city aimlessly.  I remember trying to walk to Regent Park, all the way from Covent Garden, but then getting to Mornington Crescent instead, because, well, reading google maps fails me.  Besides wandering around, my induction to this city went something like this:

First step is the step anyone would have to take: Equipping yourself with an umbrella, and carry it with you at all times, no matter how clear the skies may seem when you walk out of your door that morning/afternoon/night.  Ideally, you would buy wellies too, because wet feet are the worst, but if you’re like me, you’ll just spend a whole year without rainboots, skipping from dry spot to dry spot.

Second step consisted of me buying a camera to photograph all the random sights I’d come across.  Although I visited London on two occasions previously, I never had to navigate it on my own, and so all sights were entirely novel to me.

Third step in establishing yourself in a new city is finding  a café worthy enough to be graced by your regular presence.   And so I did just that.  I found a café where I would spend some early afternoons writing e-mails to my friends, my old boss and my parents, where I would update this blog from.

Step four is of course opening a bank account at an institution preferably close enough to the café, cos ‘yo’ americanos ain’t gunna pay themselves, sista!’  That will take you two whole months, because…uh, that are the service standards at the bank you chose to open your account with for the people with your visa.  You just feel lucky that nobody is driving a van with ‘Go home!’ posters in front of your flat, so you accept the inconvenience without fretting.

Step five  is researching the vegetarian options and restaurants.   That’s how I discovered certain places in Neal’s Yard (where I just remembered I need to go back very soon!) and Mildreds, a lovely vegetarian/vegan restaurant where I went for my birthday last year.  Their puddings are just to die for.

Oh step six is adapting to the lingo.  Pudding is in fact not a runny custard-like substance, it is simply ‘cake’.  Lemonade is not made out of lemons and ‘Are you alright?’ is not an intervention by a stranger about your visibly morose state of mind.  I made a post about that previously.

Step seven is getting an oyster card, and that in itself means understanding the tube maps, and also ensuring you get TFL notifications about weekend closures.

Step 8 is making friends. ”How does one make friends in a new city?” you ask!  THE INTERNET, naturally, where else?!  So you will go on OkCupid dates with random women and men, telling them ‘I’m open to romance, but have zero expectations.’  You will meet girls who want you to meet their boyfriends, you will meet musicians who pop acid through their eyeballs, and you will meet guys you will need to high five as they lean in to kiss you, simply because they do not get the social cues of ‘not interested’ at the end of a date.  You will feel like Michael Cera in Arrested Development, but it will at least fill your days with eventful evenings.   You will remain friends with most of those weirdos, because, well, you have a whole lot of weirdness in yourself too, and you find things to bond over!

Step nine: Great!  Now that you have deep and meaningful connections established, you must look for a job to be able to pay for beer.  Nevermind your education and previous experience in office positions, you didn’t come to London to make money, no, you came here to meet locals, to understand their culture and history, and so naturally, you will get a job in the most cultural establishment that exists: The pub.  There, you will meet alcoholics, tourists, locals, and 90% of the Polish population in this city. You will have tons of fun, and you will also feel tons of anger.

Step 10: Now that you have at least three friends in this city, and a job, you can focus on quality hobbies: so you go from pub to pub, killing your liver, and trying things such as ‘Snake Bite’ and experiencing a newfound love for tequila.  Mazel tov, you’re now a Londoner!