Who Says You Can’t Go Home…

It is a rainy September day and this inspires a heavy melancholy stemming from the days when left I home to return to class. The last sun rays lingering through golden leaves and the smell of autumn trigger an irrational homesickness.

In the past few weeks I have been working on a show called “Home Is Where…”, which used interviews with Third Culture Kids to explore the notion of belonging and well.. home. Third Culture Kids (TCKs) are those who spent a significant part of their developmental years outside their parents culture, creating their own hybrid culture. On paper, this would make me one. In practice, my parents have been the textbook examples of integration and I happily grew up in a small town in the Netherlands. Happiness is relative, there was definitely a subconscious sense of “Otherness” not to be explored until decades later: the main evidence was my restlessness, my need to leave home.

“Home Is Where…” is part of a bigger project, an online oral history library on SoundCloud and hearing the different testimonies on how TCKs struggle with the notion of Home, made me realise how lucky I am.  I have always known where home was, even though returning forever would be Option Z.

Then #Brexit happened in June and (unrelated) my parents sold the house I grew up in.

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Our family home by my sister’s Lomo

As I drove away last July with the boy next to me, my sister in the back and a car full of childhood memories: it felt like an anti-climax. My parents waving goodbye on the driveway, with me desperately trying to avoid the kerb while reversing… My mind was on the road before I even turned the corner.

Back in London the realisation hit.

#Brexit is a complicated matter and to me it felt I became the Other. When the UK rejected to be part of the EU after a campaign built on xenophobia, I cried. There are many valid reasons to have voted Leave but the main narrative of the Leave campaign was so hateful, it coloured the result. For the first time in my 14 years on the island, Option Z suddenly moved up the Alphabet of choices. Simultaneously, the house that I see when speaking about Home will no longer be that.  That what was once my nuclear family-of-four has levelled up into three couples. With their own lives and their own homes.

I wanted to hold on to a home where my friends are, where I drink in the same bar every time I return, but my friends are starting their own families and the bar changed ownership. I live out of suitcases and boxes, I don’t decorate where I sleep: always ready to move. Home was always somewhere else. Not yet here and now no longer there either.

The salvation to my lost soul is a homebody who fixes everything to his liking: modifying living rooms, bed rooms and car interiors within the limits of rental agreements and space. Wherever he is, he creates comfort and happiness.

Back in London the realisation hit: wherever he is, home is.

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry

It has been a full two months since I left the day job to pursue the dream once again.

Why not. Might as well. She says.

Over the last few weeks, I reflected a lot to see which direction to take. I have consulted mentors and talked with many friends. I noted that with my female peers a pattern in our conversations was appearing: stress levels, anxiety and the pressure we put on ourselves. Our society seems to have certain values and on top of that we struggle with our own goals.

We are women of a certain age, children of the 2008 recession, unexpectedly lesser progressed in our careers despite our upbringing and educational expectations.
We are women on a cross-road, unable to see the consequences that our choices may bring: motherhood and ambition, will it be compatible? Money making or art following? What if we miss the boat? Which boat are we trying to board in the first place? How to pay the rent? Are we allowed to lean on people – does that diminish our drilled-in declaration of independence? What if we cannot do it on our own?
To quote the great Maya Rudolph in the film Away We Go: “Burt, are we fuck-ups?”

“We are infantilised.”someone said today and I liked the phrase. What does it mean to be an adult? Financial independence, home ownership, parenthood? What we have learned we should have/be/want as an adult, does not line up with reality. Perhaps that is why we don’t give ourselves the credit of being adults and we are trapped in uncertain limbo.

Tonight I watched “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry” on Netflix about the Women’s Lib movement. It was enlightening. I was blown away to realise how radical the changes were that made on issues we now too often take for granted. The movement wasn’t perfect, mistakes were made, yet its journey has changed many lives and it is still ongoing.Screen-Shot-2014-12-05-at-10.48.18-AM-e1417805381734

If anything, it inspired me to be fearless: I saw women marching with children on their backs for jobs, for equal pay, for birth control, for day care. I heard testimonies about women performing illegal abortions on other women who were desperate to not become mothers.

Images of women disrupting men in meetings about female health care issues, men who laughed at the idea of Women’s Lib, women who agreed that a women’s place was in the home. Notions that are alien to me and the ones I associate with.

My fear subsided. I am an adult. My choices will be mine. The path I take my own. Thank goodness for the freedom and the opportunity to keep on pursuing that dream.

 

Lembrança do Senhor do Bonfim da Bahia

Three years ago, bar five days, I found myself in Rio de Janeiro. It was part of my 2012 project – 12 challenges for 2012. That year had started for me without a job, without a home and I needed something to focus on.

At the end of the year, I stood on Ipanema beach with the sun scorching me in December. It was a sensation I had never experienced before in winter and I was so incredibly happy.

A few days after my arrival, my very good friend gifted me a wish ribbon. She had just visited Bahia and in tradition, she wanted to tie the ribbon to me for faith and good luck. The ribbon is tied with three knots, and you are to make a wish for each knot. When the ribbon falls off by itself, the wishes will (have) come true.

Another friend laughed at me when I had the ribbon tied to my wrist; he had the ribbon to his ankle and it hadn’t fallen off in nearly a year. On my wrist, the ribbon would soon annoy me and I would cut it before it had a chance to fall off.

One should never underestimate the faith of those who have nothing but dreams and ambitions. Especially when those intangible things are suddenly represented by a simple ribbon.

Three years I walked around with a ribbon around my wrist: I wore it every day, every night, had showers, cooked, worked, travelled and went about my daily business. For nearly three years, I was reminded every day of my three wishes, making it that I was open to possibilities and created the opportunities for my wishes to manifest and come true.

20151209_202601Fifteen minutes ago, at time of writing my ribbon fell off. It broke while I was sitting on the bed in my home, which I share with the boy and I was emailing people about the play readings that I am organising.

My three wishes: a home, a man, a play.

Amen.

 

 

On the move.

It is nearly 1am and I am lying in the dark (phone light shining on my face) in my near empty bedroom.

It has been a hectic week: as if all the small events that have happened in the last few weeks/months, suddenly all came together and fell into place.

Time is a funny concept, while it is happening you don’t even notice it. All that is in the future seems still so far away but once you look back on it, you wonder how quickly things have flown by.

Two years ago, I moved into this room after a near sabbatical from the real world. That is unfair, even though unconventional my life was and is still very real. Yet two years ago,I continued on the road less travelled by and it has made all the difference. I am happier than I have ever been. I run a new writing group, I have a job that pays and is flexible. I am slowly and finally returning to my first love: the theatre.

After a near ten year detour, I seem to be on the right track. Was the detour worth it? Mwah… haha I suppose it took as long as I needed. Anyhoot it is getting late and tomorrow is a big day.Words of wisdom, kids: don’t delay your own happiness. It might take years, decades but pursue it. Once you got it, don’t apologise, don’t be afraid and don’t postpone. Time is a funny concept: the principle is infinite but not experience of it is not.

IMG-20150807-WA0007Tomorrow I am going to move once again. A new chapter, a continuing story.

Quelle cliché : life’s a marathon.

VLM2015Today the annual London Marathon is held and thousands of runners are lining up as I type. The publicity, the PR set off in me a sense of excitement: only a year ago, I was prepping to run marathon in Edinburgh and the runners vibe brings back the adrenaline. Not that I would be able to run one now, mind: yesterday, I struggled through my first 5K in a long while. The first run, after six weeks if not two months, when I pushed myself to run a hilly 10K just under an hour… by 12 seconds. Haha, it doesn’t matter. Like writing, running is something I enjoy going back to. (Yet perhaps like running, I would get better or more practised at writing if I made time for it more often. Now there is a thought for Sunday morning.)

Source: Twitter - hard to track, sorry.
Source: Twitter – hard to track, sorry.

Despite the buzz and despite a very tempting offer to accompany the boy on his job photographing charity runners this morning at 8am, I have decided to join the crowds later for the very last bit and cheer them on to the finish line. That moment is magic. I have already considered going back on my ‘once and never again’ but the awful amounts of training, the Chris Hoy thighs (ok, perhaps not quite) and the unsexy moments half-dressed in an ice-cold bath eating a protein bar, do flash back and dissolve that nostalgia once more. For now. (What is wrong with 10Ks? Half marathons?)

The marathon was an amazing experience, a transcending one almost; I now tackle all life’s challenges as a metaphorical run. The discomfort, and there is discomfort when you are schlepping across 26.2 mile, proves to be only temporary and the euphoria of the finish line is worth every effort. I have felt the physical equivalent of  ‘this too shall pass’ and as I am wading once again through a foggy patch, at 3-0 I know it will all work out ok. Good luck to each runner: enjoy the ride, I’ll be cheering each and every one of you!

30 1/3

Six months ago, I wrote my last blog entry and since then I have entered another decade. So here I stand before you: 30 1/3 years old.

My very first note, aptly titled First Note, is dated October 2008 when I was 23. Over the years, I have had flurries of writing and silences: the silences here often indicate activity in life. This time it is not much different with a new decade, a boy, a theatre company, a paid job, ups, downs: the whole rollercoaster ride. In fact, not dissimilar to seven years ago and if  was I waiting for adulthood to pour upon me then, I have come to realise that this must be it. There is no other level. No secret door, no certificates, no ceremony. Dang!

One day it’s just here and it doesn’t feel like it should be it: yet suddenly you realise that the ones you perceive as adults are bumbling about in similar fashion to oneself. Hallelujah, you made it, just try not to be underwhelmed by it: you are like everyone else. Going through the same motions ( even if they are personalised and tweaked to suit people’s lifestyles) and asking ourselves the same questions (even if the timing of the questions can differ).

A new decade comes with new expectations, new dreams and new challenges. After adjusting to so many new things, I have finally come back up for air. Juggling all the have-to’s, must-do’s, should have’s and want’s, I had forgotten that I like to write and I am back to rekindle the love.

A Letter.

Dear G.

Writing this is ridiculous and you of all people would be the last person who would want me to write this.  I am sorry. I cannot help it. There are things I need to work through and I only do this in writing. Why on such a public forum and not just in a diary? Because I love the drama and so do you – ha! No or yes and no, such a public forum because it will force me to write this rather than carrying the words around in my head.

You are dead my friend and you have been so for nearly seven years. It still bothers me. As I am approaching a new decade, I am spasming out about getting older while simultaneously realising that you will never reach this point. You would have reached this – last year and I am pretty certain you would have been icy cool about it. There are times that I wonder what you would be like now, how a more grown-up you would view the world. I imagine that you would have calmed down a bit, found yourself a man and settled down. Brunches, coffees, books, music, travel, outdoors, wine, candles, films – the good life.

That is what saddens me – I look at how life has rolled on since you passed and by gum, I think you would have loved it. The first babies are arriving G, and in my mind’s eye you pull faces at them from a safe distance, with a glass of wine in your hand. Winking at me – glad that the baby is not yours! They are still little now but when they get older you would have been great with them: drawing pictures, arts and crafts, singing songs… How frustrating that you are no longer here.

You know I was writing about you or writing about us after you. A painful two year process and suddenly this crazy ironic thing happened which has blown my whole piece to ashes. You would have laughed at the irony and told me to move on. You don’t want this play at all I know. But I do G. I need this play, I need to write this play with every fiber of my being. I never quite understood what happened all those years ago and I am trying to make sense of it. I never will make sense of it – fine. Perhaps I am trying to create something out of the emotions it triggered.

It has been a long time but if I don’t finish this, there will be another thing associated with you unfinished. I am getting old G! I need to move on and I can only do this by finishing this friggin play, I am sick and tired of it but it haunts me. Your death haunts me which was never your intention I am sure but it happened.

So let me finish this and then I will let you go my friend: we’ll drink one last glass of champagne and then we’ll say goodbye. Deal?