Sunday, 12 January 2014

2000 and 13 Clichés


As these days I find myself confined in bed, fighting "not-malaria", a wrap up of the year that just ended seems very much called for. After all, it's been one of the most interesting and emotionally diverse years of my life. How many clichés can one fit in a year's time? I had to catch'em'all, I mean, overachiever much? And since I know very well that (Cliché#1) time does wash everything away, and this is one of those years I do want to remember with clarity, here goes what the past 12 months taught me, of course, the hard way.

My 2013 started with metaphorical clouds of storm and actual rainy days, in what better a setting than the (Cliché#2) city of love. Which is a bit ironic, cause right there I was ambushed into (Cliché#3) letting go of a whole love related lot. And since I saw no choice, with a tiny resigned heart I obliged, or at least so I thought. But how very wrong I was thinking that I can, just like that, accept what for me was a less than ideal course of events. And how many intrinsic back and forths and illegitimate feelings and hope I had to fight. Took an unacceptably long amount of time and a whole lot of ego taming to understand that it is perfectly possible that someone cannot love you the way you want them to. And that (Cliché#4) even if you find their new heart direction useless and inappropriate because it is not right up your street, it doesn't mean it's not there at all.

Upon wrapping up half a horrible year in Paris, an extremely overrated location for that matter, time came to move to Amsterdam. And I be damned if I was not bamboozled when I wept for letting go of my 20 square meter studio in the 17th district and my coldhearted colleagues. Because of course, (Cliché#5) one's routine, even if bad and harming in its nature, it's something one finds comforting in the face of something new. But there I was, having signed up for an everything but routinary lifestyle, carrying more than I could handle, in all possible senses. But after moments of perfect soul storm I switched to this new home and to a new stage of 2013, not lacking all kinds of lessons, more or less trivial. I taught myself (Cliché#6) how to ride a bike in Amsterdam, seems like I have a taste for choosing resonant locations. Soon after, I turned 26, and one of my biggest dreads, the late 20's, kicked off. (Cliché#7) I felt a different age for the first time after quarter a century, but good different for that matter. Then I discovered, the hard way of course, with tears and sweat and a whole new level of heartache (Cliché#8) that the best way to get over an obsession is to replace it with a fresh and as different as possible one.

Sometime halfway through the year the news about my third assignment came along, and then a distinct drama broke loose. Needless to say that stability had not been my strongest suit this past year, but I suddenly felt like I was being forcedly extracted from everything that was at least remotely familiar and thrown some unnecessary thousands of miles away. It was in the process of acceptance of this new upcoming reality when a few more truths occurred to me, not the easiest to digest. (Cliché#9) Difficult circumstances make for unlikely friendships, and (Cliché#10) similar experiences fast forward people's closeness. Complementary, (Cliché#11) those few people who matter and whom you matter for will stay despite of the rootlessness, the growing apart or outgrowing each other or even an actual continent standing in between.

By far the toughest relationship wisdom of last year, experienced from both perspectives -that of affection projector and projectee - was (Cliché#12) not taking people who care about you for granted. Because there's so much one can put up with before they say "F it, I am done". And while it is the easiest to take it out on people who you know love you, thinking that unconditional love will be enough for prioritizing your arrogant and needy ass, there is a limited amount of tantrums and eyes rolling one can prioritize you over. Because flash news, (Cliché#13) someone's boundless affection is not synonymous to them sticking around forever.

To wrap up a majestic 2013, in the 4th quarter my Africa begun. Which is too big of a deal to even begin fitting it in last year's story. Which was and still is beyond any imaginable cliché and beyond my explanatory power. The experience I feared most and still fear, that caused me to cross a lot of my boundaries and break a number of rules, that thought me different is not better or worse. Just refreshingly different, just how I feel now while blowing my nose, color coding my wardrobe and writing stupid sweet nothings.

Fruit taste better in Nigeria. Mac cosmetics are the best. There's no place like home. French people don't like to speak English. Your best friends are the same kind of crazy as you. You'll not be given more than you can handle. There are a million bikes in Amsterdam. Feelings put on hold are prone to kick back when one’s ready for them.

All of this and 2000 other tiny things broke my inside into tiny pieces and put it back together last year. And I kid you not, this refurbishment was much awaited for.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

That Awkward Moment

That awkward moment. When your prude princessy arse is taken out of its comfort zone. Way out. Say...7000 km. When one afternoon, without too much warning, you find yourself away from everything you are familiar with, both literally and figuratively. When your common sense is so peculiar to your new environment that you cannot do anything else but smile, and...wait. For something, or everything, to happen.

It only takes an email announcing you you're flying to Lagos soon, to be living there for half a year. After a series of initial "OMGs" and "WTFs" and "why me's", you experience a complete change in your priorities. You suddenly start telling people more [of course in a very awkward way] how much they mean to you. Not that you didn't love them before. But the perspective of being shipped thousands of miles away makes it more necessary to express it. So your love declarations fly out as often as you fly back home. Which is disturbingly often, to somehow compensate for the months you skipped before and the absent months you are about to serve. The logic of that? None whatsoever.

Then you start preparing. Physically but mostly mentally. You oscilate a million times between "f this shit, I'm going home" and "f, let's do this, I'm moving to Nigeria" with no clear pattern and of course, no logic in your decision making process. You discover how difficult it is to obtain a visa for this country, while running around to put together a huge pile of requested documents. You take a million shots against all these weird diseases, panic in the process, go again through the two gate decision tree, and make up your mind on moving forward. Buy all these crazy things and stuff your luggage with blond hair products and medicine, cause you don't expect to find them here. And you're superficial and prejudiced, but you're right.

You start asking random people for their opinion. They divide themselves into two big groups: the "Oh wow" and the "Oh yay", which of course doesn't help you in any way. You hear annoyingly often words like challenging, interesting, different, fascinating, which can only mean trouble. You start asking for input from people who've experienced the same thing. They give you precious information (to which you react either by panic or nervous laughter) but tell you that some things cannot be explained, you have to see them for yourself to understand. You have no idea what they're talking about, and imagine they are just being unnecessarily mysterious. You understand immediately what they meant once you set foot at the destination.

You pack, fly the longest flight in your life, land, scared shitless and embrace it all, even if sometimes forcedly. People ask you how you find it, you say challenging, interesting, different, fascinating...way too often. Then you say that some things cannot be explained, one has to see them for oneself to understand. They have no idea what you're talking about.

That awkard moment. Whan you are thorn between living The experience of your life and living Your life.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The Rootless


Every time I start gathering the many small pieces of my existence to move them somewhere new, I am invaded by equally numerous worries, more or less justified and obviously, more or less superficial. I’ve been called (yet again) shallow when I found out I was going to Africa for six months and one of my first thoughts was ‘What am I going to do about my blond hair? Who is going to dye my roots?’

If there is something I already appreciate about African ladies, without having interracted with too many of them though, is their amazing volatility when it comes to hairstyles. But as much as I appreciate that, somehow I am pretty sure that taking care of thin and moody blond hair is not on their skill list. And don’t get me wrong, I had the same fear while travelling around Europe. Shout shallow again, but it seems like my hair is one of my top concerns nowadays.

So after a few jittery days I had an epiphany, maybe it’s not the end of the world if the roots stay for a while. Anyway, they are the only ones I can hold on to nowadays. Which brings me to the actual point of this tell-tale.

I’ll admit, two whole paragraphs on ‘50 shades of blond’ can be tough to digest, but [in my defense] it was just meant as a witty (?) lexicon introduction to the matter at hand. It shall be called‘The rootlessness’.

They say that persons who keep moving around for several years experience this unfortunate feeling of non-belongingness. Which of course, to compensate, has its perks, like freedom from all imaginable constraints, independence, increased adaptability and tolerance, all those amazing, beautiful people you get to meet, the pride of calling oneself ‘a (wo)man of the world’ or an ‘international kid’.

I’m honestly afraid that one of my special talents is to be an early adopter of all them ugly truths. So take this as a testimony of an international kid, after only one year of wandering the wonders of the world. A kid who does feel and appreciate the perks, for sure more than the non-belongingness. But also acknowledges that she’s become ruthlessly rootless.

Thus here's acknowledging what may be nerve wrecking for the poor devils of the world. It's the endless anxiousness of not knowing where she’ll end up next. The heart ache when he sees all of his loved ones partying together +2000 km away. The lack of a fair notion of what “home”is, as this home changes so often that it can be anywhere. A messed up value system and crazily high and unrealistic expectations. The long flights, jet lags, heavy drinking, forever new and empty houses, endless string of goodbyes and fresh beginnings. But most of all, circumstantiality in everything. Mostly with people who are walking in their life, taking a small piece of their existence, giving a new piece in return.

But hey, who can be prouder of having such a diverse and international heart? No matter how patched and rootless.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

You Will Never Know

How I sometimes cannot eat my stupid dull sandwich or chase my pet mouse or proudly ride my colored bike without thinking what if.
How I could take me 3 years, 3 months, 3 seconds, to go from zero to crazy because of you only.
How I never told you I knew for sure you were the one, and then you just knew you weren't.
How I have no doubt it was wise to let you let me go, but then I have them all.
How I became so much better for you, and all of the sudden so much worse because of you.
How I knew I did not want crazy eyed, thin haired, moody and bipolar babies wearing tiny uggboots and foreign names, till I knew I did because they could mean more you's.
How I never shouted you should go, stay, care, come back when I should have said everything, and when you should have done everything.
How I don't care about being blunt about how I feel for the last time, or actually for the first.
How you'd make me more retarded and controlless than a space cake.
How I wanted you to be the happiest and I the one to cause it, and how disarming was to discover that I could only do that by pulling a disappearance act.
How I act half my age when having to face and stand up for my own truth, or when it comes to accepting concepts like No, Impossible, Contretemps.
How I was not ready to save you yet.
How I am scared that someone will love me differently, too soon, especially now when I try to persuade myself that different is better.
How I am even more scared that this one time ever you really knew what you were doing.

How this is not meant to be a bold statement nor a lame love song, but it's most definitely much of both.

You will never know. Only that now, you do.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Just A Lil' Bit's Enough


I just got a reason, and just a little bit was enough of the feeling that
something is going better instead of the already notorious negative trend.

I am quarter a century old and learning something completely new, just when I was starting to think that I was running out of possible new experiences. Even the 'never have I ever' started to be boring, I would get drunk so easily on my lack of new firsts. 

But voila! Never have I ever biked. Sunday it was my first time ever getting on a bike, and after half an hour of failed attempts to maintain my balance, despite the lovely encouraging smile and hoorays of my ad hoc teacher, I thought I would never be able to do it. Another half an hour later, I was slightly getting the hang of it and actually pedalling quite shyly. 

Today, second time ever on a bike. Proved once again that I am as selfsufficient as one can possibly be when it comes to learning something. It's like denying myself part of the victory if I ask for someone's help (although at times I should be screaming for it). Why do it differently this time? Some football court square meters, sixty minutes, a million micro heart attacks and two million bruises later, triple the ego, I can actually pride myself with pretty decent biking skills for a newbie.

Saddest or best part of this, or both at once, is that I cannot even remember when was the last time when my motivation and my pride skyrocketted together like this. So I am going to do what I do best, extrapolate, blow everything out of proportion, make a huge deal of a random humdrum act such as biking and infer that things can be going in a good direction once I decide to keep rolling. 

I have to give this blue and purple bike that I am so fullheartedly riding a name. A little bit of blue melancholy, a little bit of purple craziness, what if I just call it Life? Mine.




Thursday, 14 March 2013

Anything could happen

I guess we know that's just what humans do.

Crave for a little change and challenge, and get the full package instead. I mean, who would have imagined that only a few days and some hundred km away everything would be so overwhelmingly different?

I have to say, judging by some random sane standards, new does not necessarily mean better. I have the food, a cold house and the bipolar weather (at least) to vouch for that. But different probably does. The people, the paved roads, the lightheartedness, the stupid stoopwafels.

Cheers to the different, right? This time I choose to be not only foolishly but fully in, and whilst letting go of everything ever possible, I will hopefully start getting something in return, whatever that is. I would bet on my own self, who knows when and  to whom that was lost. 

Cheers to the different I said, with a glass of Zinfandel rose while searching for summerly NY flights, just to prove that despite all the rush of change I can still belong, even if in bits and pieces and not rightfully so.

Sensor based heating when indeed so much need to move (on), clean slate, a singing secretary, hundred square meters and a heart to fill, cheap love, a little imaginary (?) mouse for company since pets are not allowed, a blue and purple bike, big windows, innovation, a beer, two beers, three beers...I guess that from now on anything could happen.

(And now I know the truth that anything could happenAnd though I think I need you, I guess it does not really matter.)

Monday, 4 March 2013

Extraordinarily Ordinary

Worst thing you could possibly ever do to someone: go ahead and make them believe they're exceptional. Exceptionally good or outstandingly bad. Happened, eeerm, to a friend of mine, to be misled , on and on, in concentric and vicious circles, from trivial to core levels. True story, thus now she's learning stuff the hard way and paying the dues for not knowing how to take in the averageness.

Let's imagine this little bitter story. Say we have a baby girl who happens to walk and talk 'exceptionally well' when 1 year old. While the parents are a bit bummed for not having some gags and stutters to laugh about, they say, damn, we did well, this is a good one, one hell of an exceptional child. Say the girl goes on doing some unusual stuff for her age, drawing, singing, reading, being adorable, conquesting the adults, being first in class and shit. Say she learns from the ones around her she is doing some amazing things, thus she must be exceptional. Also say she starts to learn and value the taste of this outstandingness, to the point where it does not suffice for her to be exceptional on her own, but also by comparison.

Say she goes on and on like that, living her life and making her choices ruled by this god of exception, and that everyone is very happy to feed on that. Say she cries for any less than maximum grade, and suffers for every person she has chosen and who does not love her exceptionally. Say she cannot bear to accept minor success, mild pain or mere happiness, because one must be extraordinary no matter the price. That the only thing she knows is over the top being always better than fair, and life only being worth living from a certain degree of comparison upwards.

Say that she is just learning the hard way that averageness is an option, even if it is not. And that there are times when you cannot be exceptional...if you are not.