My open closet door reveals a wall of brightly colored scarves for all seasons. I know exactly which one is coming with me to the city of lights next week.
In contrast to the bustling evening the morning streets of Nice with the sparkling sun peaking up over the palm trees are still yet simultaneously alive. I was sauntering down to a cafe for a boost of caffeine and Pan au Chocolate as I watched the golden rays of sun light up the city as if it were covered in honey. Gratefulness nipped at my heels like an eager dog following me around, as a broad involuntary smile welled up out of happiness, this is a side effect of a life well lived. As I wrote my morning pages savoring a cappuccino I watched a robbed priest sternly sweep the the sidewalk in front of the church I sat directly across from. He was solemn and joyless completing his task. The church bells began to ring announcing the 8am mass. I don't think I watched a single soul enter the church aside from the 3 or 4 other priests who floated in as the bells tolled.
This particular cafe with it blue chairs lined up facing the street was where I drank a cafe au creme yesterday while watching an English couple argue bitterly. The women frustrated, sad and seething hissed "Why are you so set in your ways at the expense of others?" He mumbled an unenthusiastic apology, but clearly not caring that he'd hurt her feelings, as he stood there drinking his expresso listing out what the errands of rest of the day were and what their order should be. I could read her frustration and I was uncomfortable to be witness to her sadness. I knew exactly what she was feeling as if I was reading an open book. She was mad to be in paradise with her insensitive husband. I watched the silent anger pour out of her. I couldn't believe he was ignoring her sorrow and pain, and I could see her wondering "how had it gotten here, how had to gotten to this very moment, to this place? how had she wasted so much time on him and how many more years would she waste unhappy?" It was as if there were a rolling tape of her inner monologue playing all the sorrow and anger I could read on her face. This couple was a wonderful reminder that alone is often better than coupled.
The cafe I was sitting at seemed to have some dark energy about it, in fact although it looked inviting enough there was clearly something wrong with it. Yesterday it was the arguing couple and a homeless man scowling at me and throwing a tantrum when I wouldn't give him money for a cup of coffee, in fact he sat down in the middle of the street and scowled at me until some else gave him the 3 euros he needed. Maybe I should have given him the coins, maybe not. I'm always uncomfortable when strangers come directly up to make and ask me for something. Boxing me in and making me feel unsafe. I never know what the right thing to do is. Today I watched the priest scowl as he swept the doorway. I listened to 3 french adults laugh over their coffee fueled breakfast while they enjoyed a cigarette. A drunk angry man who seemed to know them came over from down the street and yelled at the one of the three standing. In fact he didn't just yell he grabbed and head butted him as I watched. The standing man began yelling "Police, police" and the drunkard stumbled away mocking the standing man he had just hit and repeating "Police" in an angry defeated way. This is the type of energy being drawn to that particular cafe. Maybe it's because the cafe sits across from a church as if the demons of those people who enter the church wait outside the doors of the cathedral knowing they are unwelcome in the dark holy ground of the incense filled church? While the demons wait impatiently outside for their victims to return they torture the souls of those around. This seems to be the only logical explanation for the scenes I've witnessed the past two days.
I finished my morning pages and coffee thankfully without another event and made my way slowly back through the city square to my hotel. Changing into running clothes I started to rush now eager to feel the pounding of my feet on pavement. I slapped on my garmin giddy to think about uploading this upcoming run that would list it's city as "Nice, France". It's also embarrassing to admit how long it's been since I've run. Between the mediation workshop I attended, getting to OH and back, and preparing for this trip running took a back seat in the last 2-3 weeks and I'm back at square one, but as long as I have legs that move and work I'll run when I can, it makes me feel whole. On the street my garmin finally found the satellite and I popped my ear buds in. I knew just the album to play as I ran down the promenade "Ain't No Man" by the Avett Brothers of course. I was still smiling as I'd been all morning even watching other peoples demons. As I ran I smiled boldly wishing this type of travel and adeventure could last forever.
After lounging happily on the rocky beach since 9:15am this morning I looked at my watch realizing it was almost 1pm and if I didn't look for food now I'd be stuck hungry until places open back up for dinner at 7pm, since I'd skipped breakfast in my eagerness to be near the sunshine and water I thought laziness was not a good option now. I reluctantly pulled myself off the beach to hunt for lunch. I was hoping for a place with light fare, and close so that I could get back to the sea and to my book as quickly as possible, although quick and lunch don't normally go together in France. After little searching I chose an outdoor cafe with a cute bearded waiter and fresh sounding seafood dishes. This place I ducked into had oysters (which I adore) and I believe we just entered a season ending in ember so I think that means they are officially in season? I ordered a rose and 6 salty oysters followed by an espresso. The practice of an espresso post lunch has great pick me up effects and I need to remember that when I finally get back home and hit the wall after lunch at work, but I won't worry about that until next week. Today after my late lunch the only conceivable and appropriate decision to make next was indulging in an ice-cream cone of hazelnut gelato and a slow stroll down the boardwalk.
When I finally planted myself back on the beach in almost the exact same spot as I've been every time I've visited this week, as if the beach gods are keeping it open just for me, I could feel the sun was even warmer than before and I decided to take a quick dip before settling in. Slipping into my sandals to walk down to the edge of the water because it hurts to walk on the rocks is a funny drawback to paradise I thought as I reluctantly took them off to enter the refreshing aqua water. Even stepping in I winced as my feet felt the sharp rock edges underneath me. I tried to hop into weightlessness as quickly as possible knowing those same sharp edges would be waiting for me when I was ready to stop riding the soft waves.
Slipping out of my wet and salty bathing suit this afternoon I realize I'm burnt. Slightly crispy in many spots, resembling a lobster in others. Looks like my sunscreen isn't doing the job. Maybe I didn't put it on soon enough after getting on the beach today, maybe reapplying while still wet after a dip in the Mediterranean wasn't smart or maybe it was a combination of the two. Risk of skin cancer aside the vitimin D has other effects that are restorative, nourishing and are making me feel healthy and rested despite the sun burn.
It's almost 7pm when cafe's open back up for dinner. I'm freshened and rested and about to head back out for a leisurely dinner and an evening stroll. I hope your Saturday has been just as nourishing as mine.
Letting myself relax and let go isn't something that comes all that easily to me. A vacation like this one in Nice is strategic even if I feel guilty about the extravagance of a second European vacation this year. Out of the country is extraordinarily helpful because I have limited access to voicemail, e-mail, internet and the distractions of home and work. Being out of my normal space not speaking the language and being immersed in something that is relaxing and outside of my comfort zone helps me see through a new clearer lens. A beach town is a major plus because laying in the sun near the lapping salt water has immensely calming effects on my spirt. I'm actually doing a whole lot of nothing, or at least what feels much like nothing. Lazily lying on the beach, eating light southern Italian inspired faire, drinking fresh rose, and walking until my legs cry no more is allowing my soul the much needed space to reset it's self. It's comforting to know that for at least 2 and a half more days there's nothing more that must be accomplished aside from maybe consuming an ice-cream cone and I'm thinking my next one will be chocolate gelato in a waffle cone.
I hadn't realized how tightly wound I've been until dinner last night sitting in a cafe slightly zoning out and feeling fully content, not a single "to-do" nagging away within my brain. I found for the first time in ages I wasn't worried about what work I'd left undone, I was simply sitting and having dinner. I didn't even have to rush through it or worry about how late it had gotten. I've become so relaxed that it wasn't a big deal when i realized I was completely lost when walking home from the restaurant. I could even laugh about it because i knew eventually I'd find my way back and I could sleep in the following morning (and I did) if it took a long time to meander back to the hotel.
Nice was a top choice when I was thinking about a get away because I couldn't pair it with an art class, yoga workshop or some other form of learning (which is something I tend to fill my time away with. Those things are all great, but they don't give me time to recharge. I tend to schedule myself ragged even on the weekends in real life and I wanted to gift myself days of nothing to do. Busy is something I'm trying to stop being, but that's not always easy. I find it's a balancing act, there seems to be a place for me of just enough tension. On one side of the weighted scales are the self care items from little to big, and on the other side of the scale are all of the work things. It's a balancing act and when one gets too heavy it throws the whole scale out of whack. I've been really out of whack this year feeling the tug that only a new job can bring and wondering if the choices I've been making recently have been the right ones. I think this trip is really bringing clarity to that.
I'm standing in the customs line at the charlotte airport in a large whitish/grey room with no windows. It looks like I'm underground but in reality it's the first floor, the air is stagnant, but not stale. The magic of my vacation is about to come to a screeching halt. All goods declared through the customs line, bags grabbed and walking out of the airport I'm the same and completely different in the way only travel can change you. Outside humidity encompasses my body, this is home. My eyes rest on the lush green of NC, home feels simultaneously wonderful and terrible. Driving back to Greensboro gazing at the familiar comforting terrain and reflecting on the last week I know I'm in big trouble. What exactly is it that's different now and and making me feel so uncomfortable?
France unleashed the little girl inside of me. I hadn't forgotten she existed but I was doing a great job of ignoring her. She was my spark, she dreamed of travel, adventure, living in France, speaking French, making friends around the world and living by the sea. She had demanded I dream because she knew anything was possible. College brought the pursuit of being an adult because, paying a ton of money and incurring a large amount of debt meant I damn well better get a "serious job". So in college I bound and gaged her, threw her in a closet, locked the door, turned my back pretended she never existed; never mind that it was her passion that had gotten me to a college 600 miles away from home in the first place. This was a crime that wouldn't have been as easily committed if I had realized the long term ramification. Now looking back I know I told myself to stop dreaming too big. Banishing her made it a lot easier to set aside ideas of becoming an artist, ignoring my love of theater, and working on my fall back career because "that would pay the bills". I locked my big scary dreamer away because it was safer for my future. I've got my mature responsible bill paying shit together and she would muck things up.
But damn if Paris wasn't the prince that kissed sleeping beauty and broke her free! She's out of her high towered prison and there is no putting her back. Sleeping beauty is about to shake things up big time! Look out tidy little life I've built because not only does this wild women know herself and her passions she's also demanding I make big changes. She will not settle for this boring life in corporate america. She's refusing to let me settle for silly things like "day jobs" and "security". She will not tolerate this life of no risks. She plays only by the rules of David Whyte who said..
"Anything or anyone that does not bring you alive
is too small for you".
Sleeping beauty says I've been settling for too small and she won't tolerate it. Much to come even if it takes time.