Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Dance me to the end of Love






Hello...I have the tiniest smile curving up my lips as I type. Call it a baby Mona Lisa.

Because I finally figured something out. It is so basic that it is of the hit yourself over the head with a frying pan until stars google out of your eyes kind of simple.

You see, for weeks now I have been wanting to reach out but as I would whine to my friends, "Oh, the words aren't coming. I don't know what to do. I can't find the words. " 

Well, if that isn't the biggest load of ego on a train track of malarkey that I have ever heard, I don't know what is. Of course I have the words.

I have exactly the words that I need. 

They are:

I miss you.

I love you.

Are you ok? 

****


Let's get back to that last question in a moment. For, some of you (I am not being insincere when I say "bless you") have come wondering. To check in or to ask about my how and where. I will most happily fill in the blanks a bit because if I would like to know about you, I am - hopefully - rightly assuming that you would like the same from me.

I don't often talk about the day to day basics of my life here on the blog. Not only do I like to keep a certain degree of privacy, but I was also simply ashamed to admit the details. I am, finally, just plain tired of comparing my present life to my past. I have worked hard to get where I am now. There is nothing to be ashamed in that, nothing.

I have two jobs, sometimes three. The bread and butter full-timer entails being a receptionist/concierge at a luxury hotel in Avignon. The property is, under mandate, closed until at least mid-May and we will see if I have that job to go back to when the time comes. The amazing news is that I am getting paid 84% of my salary until then - Vive la France! Additionally, this is my second year of teaching English at the University of Avignon. Can you believe that I am a professor? That too has been suspended but I will apparently now finish up the rest of my school year via Zoom, even if I am highly dubious of my ability to understand how to do so. And lastly, if you would be so kind as to look to the right, you will see that I give walks in Arles. We will leave that one alone as a dangling participle for now. ;) 

All of this means that I am in lock-down, alone, in my apartment in Avignon. I was quite ill a few weeks back but no one was willing to test me (this despite my explaining that I was in daily, close contact with tourists from China, Japan, Korea et al.) so despite my having EVERY single symptom, I don't know if I had COVID-19 or not. Gratefully, I am better now. 

Emotionally, it has been a web of a more complex weave...or of an on-rolling wave if you prefer. For the first two weeks I couldn't label that listless, numb feeling for exactly what it is - depression. Shock. Fear that is both excruciatingly specific or nameless, blind. The sleepless nights were/are not my old insomnia rearing its head, but due to anxiety. Now that I have accepted that to be true, I am actively using the tools that I know work. Yoga. Meditation. There are some days when I reach out to every person who might listen to say, "I need help. Are you there?" Or I turn the attention outwards, such as taking food to Cyril, a sweet homeless friend who is sleeping in a tent on a nearby overpass. His situation is so far worse than mine. The phrase "one day at a time" has become my mantra, whether exhaled gently or clutched invisibly between fists topped with tears.

Perhaps I am wrong, but it feels as though we are being stripped down to our essence...from the micro (our internal, personal existence) to the macro (our world, society). On my good days, I see an incredible amount of possibility in this. After the virus has run its course, after the deepest grieving, we can, perhaps, choose to begin again. I know that I am hardly alone in saying so and yet I wonder if it might take more courage than we realise to not run to our former anaesthetised comforts and ecologically expensive ease. Or. Maybe there will be no choice. No turning back. 

What I do know, and I know it completely, is that what remains once everything else has been stripped away is Love. I see it in how we are strengthening as a community, the new old ways of connecting. Amidst all of this pain and suffering, there are a million silent, unknown stories occurring that are filled, propelled by just that. The clapping for our health-care workers, the couples swaying on their balconies, the police serenades, artists supporting each other...the examples are all across our bruised map. So let's see them for where we are. Take me there. Dance me to the end of Love.

In a beautiful exchange with Brooklyn-based artist Camile O'Briant, she wrote, "How the world is/was set up did not take care of everyone and we can no longer do this. There will be some bumps ahead, but remember your own power to create and be a source of grace and good in the world." She concluded by encouraging me, herself, us all: "Let's be a light in this world." We can. 

****


Apparently, I had more words than I thought. But to return:

I miss you.

I love you.

How are you?

Tell me please.

It actually isn't a rhetorical question at all. 

****



The title of this post arrived on a sleepless night and I scribbled it on a post-it. It was only later that I realised that it was that of a wonderful Leonard Cohen song. My Mom mentioned this version today and I love it (although not as much as I love her) so here we go. This one is for you, Mom. 




Dream. And be well. 

With Love from Provence,

Heather





We keep going...



39 comments:

  1. I miss you, too! Love you, too. I've been better! But like you, I'm trying to take it one day at a time. And to try see the beauty all around and not get overwhelmed with fear/anxiety. It's SO nice to read your words again and see your photos - WE missed YOU! Thank you for this little respite and dose of love! xoxox

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    1. You have sooo much beauty all around you, and within you! I admire you so much, everyday for all the hard work you are doing right now. I love you!

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  2. Aha !! Rocket is alive, vibrant, and centered .. Excellent !!

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  3. I miss you! I have missed you! I love you, your words, your photos, your spirit and your honesty. Continue to reach out!!!! Here, there and everywhere. So many are suffering and depressed and even if they don't say it out loud they are.

    Take care my dear

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    1. Thank you so much my sweet Elizabeth. What you said did me so much good. I hope you are doing well... xo

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  4. I am SO SORRY you were sick ( I cannot imagine how frightening that must have been ) , and so grateful that you are well again! Thank you for being so generous with with your words, I always love a blog post from you. Continued health to you as we get through this together. xoxo

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    1. Health and...bangs? ;) (I want to see them, I doooo) I am super grateful too. IF it was the virus, it was a light version of it. My prayers to those who are suffering. Love to you. Yes, together all the way baby.

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  5. Yes, we miss you! I missed your writing, your images, your news! Unfortunately my comment to your last post got lost and I haven't tried again. I should have. Of course it was only encouraging, telling you to continue and to be proud of who and where you are. And to follow your path.
    Now all of our paths are pretty diverted even blocked right now. We all have to work aganist bad thoughts and depression.
    Please be proud of what you do and did. You found a job to earn a living in the south of France as an expat. Thats something to be proud of and not to be ashamed of! A full time job + teaching at the university + the walks in Arles? I mean thats something! A lot! Even if all of this is stopped right now you should feel what you have achieved. Though I know your feelings well. I struggle with similar ones.
    I am thankful that my situation is not yet that hard. My two jobs are still running. Though definitely not for long. Since I work twice a week for a European Assistance for transport and voyagers. And Europe is still, very little is moving. So that job will be soon closed down for a while. The other is my freelance graphic design where I still have jobs. But we'll see for how long.
    We too live in the City. La grande ville la plus touchée maintenant en Allemagne, je pense. Cologne. At least in Germany we don't have a confinement absolue.
    So I go jogging every second day. We make Yoga everyday. At least we have a tiny balkony and a garden with our house community. Now these are the times we regret not to live in the countryside..., but hey.
    We are in this boat now really all together. Hopefully we will get out of it and wiser.
    I wish you so much strength in this special situation where you are alone in your appartment. I send you love and a lots of resisting power. You have the tools as you mentioned already such as yoga and meditation and the memory of what you have already been through.
    I wish also that one day we can meet again. Keep going and be proud ouf youself! And stay healthy!
    All the best
    Silke

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    1. Silke!!! When I saw your name my heart LEAPT! I was soooo happy to get this beautiful long message from you. We have such a special connection. It sounds like things are going pretty well, all things considered? Hopefully, your work will stay strong enough that between the two of you, you can get by. And you have a balcony! And a garden! That is so wonderful. I am beginning to joke with my Mom about going out into the night to steal some of the flowers that the city has planted because I miss them so much. Greenery, fresh air, light...
      Yes, hoping to meet again and sending Love and Gratitude. xoh

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  6. Hi Heather, So glad you're blogging again. I have missed you. Sorry you were I'll...hope it means you are now immune. I am well, though repressed anxiety gave me bad, sad dreams last night. My dear husband seems to have a mild case, but it's 9 days now, so I hope he'll soon be better. Sending love and virtual hugs, from sunny Florida!

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    1. Oh, I am so sorry to hear about your husband but am so grateful that it is mild. And that you are in good health as well!!! Yes, I know about those sad, strange dreams. I have them every night. They are not reality, they are just your brain trying to take care of your heart. Sending love and hugs back to you. xo

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  7. Hellooo, so good to hear from you! All is well here. I have always been a homebody, even so, the anxiety is there as it is for most of us. I am glad you are better, and maybe have more time to write and reflect. Stay well, my friend.

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    1. You too, my lovely friend. I have been loving your photographs of Karina as of late. They are so reflective of this time, somehow. Bisous

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  8. A beautiful post to wake up to Heather. Your writing and photos are exquisite.
    All is calm and quiet here we are staying home only go out for my daily walk in the fresh air...and once a week get groceries for ourselves and the elderly neighbours who cannot get out.
    The world will be very different when we get over this crisis I think it will change us all.
    Stay safe.

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    1. It is lovely to hear from you. And I am glad to know that you are well. Yes, I hope that you are right. I do. My plan is much like yours. I am super careful to do distancing on my walk and "gear up" for that and completely for my weekly grocery run. I get along super well with the security guard at my store and he laughs and laughs at me but I don't care!
      Thank you for the peace in your words.

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  9. You are such a beautiful person. And you have a way with words that is uniquely yours. Please keep writing and keep well, hopeful and hold on to the compassion. X

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    1. I think YOU are a beautiful person. But you knew that I was going to say that. :) You are helping me to stay hopeful through our friendship...and at the prospect of FINALLY meeting in person. So close, so far. We will get there. xox

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  10. It is so nice to read your message Heather and I’m happy that you are doing well and have found work in an area of this world where you wish to live. When I read that you were ill awhile ago, the virus crossed my mind because I think it had just started to spread here in Italy. Thankfully that has passed for you. I’m sure my husband and (or) I had a touch of it with mild symptoms, but we are fine and together with our pups, finding our way and organizing everything, yet unable to fully process this, like most everyone, as we take turns venturing down the hill for food (1 person per family requirement) masked and gloved. I haven’t been able to work since 1 Feb (English prof also) unpaid, which is so tough but will, at some point, resume ;-). Wishing you well and thank you for sharing your kind thoughts In your lovely way!

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    1. Michelle, are they not offering you the option of giving your classes online? I am having my first class this afternoon and am a bit nervous about how it will go...but like you, if I don't work, then I am not paid! I am so glad that you are both well. And I have been following your photos of your walks with the pups. There is quiet beauty in them, as if you were holding your breath. Continue to be well. My heart to Italy, where the grief lies hard.

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  11. So glad you're back. It's been a while and I've missed you. We're doing well here. Staying away from people as much as possible. Schools are out for the rest of the year and my husband and I are working from home. I miss my colleagues and all the liberties we took for granted. I miss visiting my parents and just walking around with my camera. But, it will pass, and then, as you said, we need to re-examine the fabric of our society. Maybe this will change things for the better. Maybe not. But I hope it will. Turning the clock back and remember what's most important may not be a bad thing for anyone.

    Good to hear you're keeping well. It's normal to feel anxious in these troubled and uncertain times. We will all go through it, in one way or another. Stay strong and safe.

    P.S. Dance Me... is one of my favourite Leonard Cohen songs.

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    1. It is such a beautiful song. And I love how he sings it. I just wanted the touch of Hope that is in the Madeleine Peyroux version...Yes, you and I both treasure our little explorations. I know. It is amazing how the thought of having a glass of wine in the sun at a café just sounds like the most luxurious thing possible right now...
      I hope that there will be lessons to be learned. So much death has happened. Is happening. There are a lot of questions to be asked.
      Stay healthy...for your family too please. xoxo

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  12. Thank you for asking how we are, how I am.

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  13. Your writing and photography is beautiful Sorry you were ill and glad you re now well. It's been said a thousands times but it's so true; we are all in this together! Yes, the stories of communities and countries coming together is heartwarming and I hope it isn't forgotten once the crisis is over. By the way I have always loved the song "Dance me to the end of Love"- both versions you mention." Stay safe and well.

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    1. Dana, I admit it that I have days where I am practically living on Instagram! ;)) Chatting away, connecting with old friends, it helps me remember the importance of connection. Now and always...
      I hope you are well!

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  14. Good to hear from you again - and what beautiful photos! I'm just finishing my book - index and copyediting to submit - so I have something to take my mind off being in lockdown. It's scary, especially the non-availability of online food shopping. Yet also so peaceful, hearing birdsong, seeing spring flowers in the garden. Stay well and take care of yourself.

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    1. That's awesome Jan!!! Congratulations!! I am so psyched for you...

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  15. Thank you for the wonderfu,l wonderful words...I'm glad they came and that you shared them...
    I am in a small town in Maine. While we do not have the outbreak of the cities, we are follwoing guidelines of lock down, etc. I visited Arles, a fascinating town, and have been in Avignon. Stay safe, and yes, I too am focusing on keeping my spiritual and physical health in the best form possible.

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    1. Oh it must be so beautiful up in Maine right now. Please do stay safe and take very good care of yourself and loved ones...

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  16. Hey hey Heather.
    I am tired, anxious, my chest is sore my throat is soar. I fell into a deep sleep for three hours this afternoon. I have an intermittent head ache no fever and my appetite is good. I am worried for my husband as he is older with some breathing issues.
    On the up side, I live on acreage and can get outside in the lovely weather we’ve been having. Am walking my dogs and make sure to laugh and stay light hearted and positive on the outside.
    A duplicitous nature? No just a survivor with a strong undercurrent.
    In my mind I constantly hear the lyric....
    “We are all together”
    I don’t know the rest of the song,
    I’ve got the important hook though.
    My husband has been catching up on yard work and seems strong. I shouldn’t worry so much about him. It is a disservice to him.
    Than you so much for asking how we are. I feel encouraged by the interaction.
    Love Light and Health to all.
    Bernadette

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    1. Bernadette, somehow my reply slipped down below!

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  17. Oh Bernadette, I hope that you are ok. I don't like that your chest is sore and that you are over-sleeping. I had that too. Please take good care, please please. A dear friend suggested drinking warm water with lemon (and I put honey too). It felt so good going down in the part of the chest that ached. I hope that could help you too. But I know that you are a survivor. And bravo to your husband too. One day at a time. With much Love your way, H

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  18. Dearest Heather ~ As I mentioned to you on IG, I read this post on my phone and then could not comment. So here I am, simply because I want to be attached to this beautiful post that brings you back into all of our lives here on your very special blog. Bienvenue chez toi! <3

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    1. You are so wonderful Patricia. You really are an angel in my life. xo

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  19. Hello Heather
    I thought I would check in to let you know the storm has passed. Thank you for you kind words. It is so nice to connect to the greater world In this time of retreat. ❤️��❤️
    Bernadette

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    1. I am so very grateful to hear this! Please take VERY good care of your wonderful self...

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  20. It is a relief to read you are all right.

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  21. Thank you Maywyn. Still coughing but oh so grateful.

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