The end of the summer holidays is famously a time of reckoning and personal revolutions. I managed to complete a cross-country European trip while narrowly avoiding mandatory quarantine. I drank red wine and spoke bad French with hot étrangérs while roaming the streets of Paris. I had short walks and long drinks on beautiful Italian beaches. I ran errands in small independent Neapolitan shops. I walked to and fro in the big travel corridor that is life and now I’m back in my East London double room that’s really a single room with a double bed and a bedside table that’s really an Ikea chair with a table lamp and a box of expired Kalms tablets.
I’m standing in front of my overflowing wardrobe. That’s usually the place where big life-altering changes take place. It’s a war zone, the sublimation of months of chaos and disorder. Three piles of trousers and shorts and sweatpants. A chest of mismatched socks. A shelf packed with woollen jumpers and baggy sweatshirts. In my tradition of having full conversation with inanimate objects, I stare deep into my closet and whisper defiantly: “I’m about to go full Marie Kondo on yo ass.”
|The view from my double room that's really a single room|
The wind of change is blowing on me, or maybe it’s just the £20 mini-fan I bought on Amazon. Either way, I live in England so it’s safe to say that summer is over. And boy, am I ready for this Hot Girl Autumn.
This was a long painful summer, studded with multiple mini-breakdowns that culminated in radical life decisions. Or rather, the decisions were made for me by my weak instinct for survival when my body and my mind simultaneously sent off a strong and unequivocal message: “You need to calm the fuck down.”
So I celebrated the need for change by getting two tattoos and a selection of vintage shirts from the aforementioned Neapolitan independent shops. My skin is evenly bronzed and my left ear is adorned with a thick silver ring that resulted in the disapproval of the oldest members of my family – which of course gave me great pleasure. In short… I feel GOOD (most days).
|The bigger the hoop...|
We’ve been here before. I think it was Schopenhauer who said that life is nothing but a pendulum that swings back and forth between self-help podcasts and repeat orders of chicken chow mein from the local Chinese takeaway place.
My 20s are everything I was expecting and more. There’s no room for dramatization because things are pretty dramatic as they are. Bloody difficult years. Every day is a Florence and the Machine song. But I think I’m finally getting the hang of it.
Sometimes life gets in the way of my narratives of self-delusion. But a quick look at my existence was enough to prove to myself that I am not just waiting for a dream to come true. This is the dream. It’s just a lot harder than I had imagined.
I like to look at the whole lockdown thing as one big-ass cleansing operation that resulted in me breaking down multiple times before I could finally start building myself back up. I think I have finally embraced a more realistic notion of “serenity”. The awareness that living life at the extremes is just not a viable way to exist.
Feeling sadness doesn’t make me a sad person. Experiencing anger doesn’t make me an out-of-control mess. Letting in those waves of lust and affection doesn’t make me a needy little shit with unhealthy attachment partners but just someone who’s more keen on consuming life instead of just observing it from the side-lines. I am determined to carry on diving into the All-you-can eat buffet that is life, even if that results in emotional indigestion.
|My sentiments exactly|
As Lana Del Rey stated in her Twitter bio (quoting some other sad American poet)… I contain multitudes. I am not defined by a bad day. I am all my days: the good, the bad, the tragic and the fucking amazing. And I have all of those, sometimes in a row. I have abandoned any pretence of orderliness in life. Life doesn’t make sense and the sooner you embrace this revelation the easier it becomes to just go with the flow and follow the light, even though you have no idea what’s waiting for you at the other end of the tunnel. And God, it’s terrible… but it’s also so much fun.
You wouldn’t say that by reading this post which, again, is all about me-me-me. But I think the most effective lesson I’ve learned in recent times is to spend less time looking inwards, quietly stepping out of the spotlight I put myself under and paying more attention to my surroundings and invest even more of my time and energy into the people around me. I want to know how my friends’ dates went. If their job interview went well. I want to be able to recognise when the people around me are suffering and try to do something about it, on a personal and collective level.
This made it easier to love myself. There’s more to life than relentless self-analysis. I so badly wanted to figure out a way to “live well” that I felt guilt every time I allowed myself to pursue unadulterated pleasure instead of methodically attempting to devise strategies of survival. I intend to spend most of my time actually living rather than attempting to learn how to live.
Learning to live well means letting go of your mission to have control over everything that may happen to you. It’s more of a gradual process than a sudden epiphany. I do what I have to do: go to work, clean the house, pay the bills. And when that’s done I eat and drink and sleep, alone or with someone else, and I enjoy the things that make life bearable even though most doctors, or priests, or my parents, would probably advise against it. For now, I’ll keep doing my thing – and try and forget about today… until tomorrow.