I Wish I Was You

My trips around the world are officially over. (Till next time).

Things are changing. My 95 year-old grandfather stops obsessing about me getting a steady job and tells me I must write about my travels and the people I meet. He said: “I don’t worry about you finding a job cause I know you will. I’m not talking about jobs. I’m talking about your intellectual arousal.” Bless him. I promised him solennellement that I was going to publish my Patagonia adventures to record that big human drama theatre.

I’m moving back to Paris. I almost have a French bank account and I almost have a flat. It wasn’t planned, but one random fact led to another, and why not after all. I didn’t know what else to do with myself: no one or nothing is expecting me anywhere. Circumstances paved my way to a sofa in the 13ème arrondissement that should soon become my “permanent” home.

That’s the longest period of ‘homelessness’ I’ve ever experienced. It will be six months on the 5th of April that I don’t really have a home. The other sleepless night, instead of counting sheep, I counted the number of beds and sofas I’ve slept on since I moved out of my London warehouse last October. It came up to 37 different places.

I used my hot wax machine again this morning to put my pilosity in order. I was shaving with shitty razors while I was gypsying around the world. I thought: “Hot wax means that the nomadic period is behind”. It’s the ultimate stepping stone to settling down again. Cheers to that.

I haven’t lived in my home country for seven years. I was a student and a baby queer back then. The atmosphere and social contexts were different. I’m disconnected. I walked to the social services office today to claim unemployment allowance and my shoes cost about half the amount of a monthly pension. My days of designer clothes may be behind but I couldn’t care less. I knew what I was signing for when I quit my comfortable life. The future is uncertain, but one thing I’m sure of is that whatever happens my fashion will remain.

On my way to the social services in my fancy shoes, I walked past a famous school of graphic design and I spontaneously walked in to drop my life model business card. I used to model in art schools to pay for university. I have missed the atmosphere of drawing classes, the smell and sound of charcoal, the density of the concentration in the studio. I love the challenge of being energetic in stillness, capturing the attention of an audience by giving them everything I have. Life modelling is the best job I’ve ever had, cause it’s the only job where I’ve had the space to expose myself fully and stand in front of people completely as I am. I didn’t have to conform.

I refuse to complain, but things have been far from easy in the last months. It’s challenging to find what to cling to when you have no daily habits and can’t find reassurance in material things. I’ve had to reinvent myself every single day. I open my eyes every morning and think: “How am I going to use my free self wisely today in the broad wild world full of possibilities?” It’s like heaven and hell in the same sentence. Freedom is terrifying. 

Yet, in the middle of my deliberately chosen struggles, I’ve been told several times by people in more comfortable positions that they would like to live like me. I’m told “I wish I was you”, “I wish I had your life”.

This is raising an infinity of questions in my head. How do we perceive other people’s life? How do you make total freedom and security co-exist? How do you find comfort in a nomadic life? How do you thrive and find peace as a creative, non-conforming, super sensorial queer woman in today’s world? How do you keep refusing to get back on the beaten path even when you’ve exhausted all your inner resources? Like the founder of the 5 Rhythms, Gabrielle Roth, used to say, it takes such great discipline to be a free spirit.

I really aspire to become the serene version of myself now. Maybe I’ll even settle down for good. Envy is not part of my mind set, but I envy people who have reached some kind of emotional stability. I am promising to myself that this period of time will be the last roller coasters of my life.

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A Philly Story: Cheese Steak & The Rhythms

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I spent five days in Philadelphia which felt like a month, even a lifetime. I know I often say that, but it’s a fact. What can I do? Travel and dance distort our perception of time.

I was in Philly for a 5 Rhythms dance workshop about the different cycles of life. I sweated my prayers six hours a day with about fifty other people from the most diverse ages, shapes and cultural backgrounds. That was AWESOME as in life-changing.

Each day was focusing on a theme and a rhythm. Day 1 was about our conception, birth and mother (Flow). Day 2 was about our childhood, father and male lineage (Staccato). Day 3 about our teenage and puberty (Chaos). Day 4 about maturity and leading the tribe (Lyrical). The final day was logically about death, including our own (Stillness).

I was staying in a very weird house in South Philadelphia, with two lovely hosts (one of them was a photographer who got punched in the face for his birthday – no joke), two cats and a strange decoration. There were piles of random objects everywhere and peculiar unidentified pseudo-decorative items hanging on the brown wooden walls. Most of the houses on that street looked abandoned so it’s a miracle that this one wasn’t. It was fun staying in an odd place though. It added to the extraordinariness of the overall experience.

My Parisian friend C², who recently moved in with her boyfriend and left to New York for three months after a few weeks of common life (I only know unusual people) came to hang out with me in Philly to share the bedroom. We laughed a lot. She’s obsessed with planning her meals and always carries left overs in her handbag. She even found the way to pick fresh parsley and tomatoes from a shared garden in the city and she had them for lunch.

Every morning, I was walking to the dance studio in the autumnal sunshine for the yoga warm up with a beautiful Israeli-American teacher from New York. I was attending classes half for the stretches and half to stare at his beautiful skin colour. I’m drawn to very specific complexions and he had the perfect one for my taste. It was hard to focus on what he was saying. Jaw-dropper.

The dance studio was in the heart of the apparently famous Philadelphia cheese steak sandwich alley. A bunch of Italian immigrants got the clever idea to put some steak and cheese inside bread in the early 30s and that got renowned worldwide. All the spirituality of the Cycles was therefore surrounded with fast-food, meat and neons. Interesting balance.

I was getting my bi-daily 50 cents coffee from Pat’s King of Steaks which is featured in the movie Rocky, back in 1976. Every time I was ordering, a sign under my feet was reminding me that Sylvester Stallone once stood there. It gave me goosebumps. By the end of the week, the dudes working there had become familiar with me. The nicest one gave me my ultimate coffee for free on Sunday. He made an announcement to the rest of the crew: “She’s going back to New York!” How sweet is that?

I tried to see some of the old stuff that is really constitutive of the American history, but I only got to see the Liberty Bell in the dark and a bunch of important buildings that I’m all mixing. A policeman told me off for getting too close to the statue of George Washington. That’s about it for culture. I’ll have to come back.

This trip wasn’t about architecture or history anyway, but about people. As often on the dance floor, I met the most fab tribe of dancers of the human disco. They would give faith in humanity to the most sceptical. I hanged out all week with a trio of hot ladies from Toronto who organically adopted me.

Above all, I found a spiritual father and a spiritual young aunt/older sister during these few days. Why do we click with some people like that and start liking them irrationally and instantly? No one really talks about this phenomenon outside the traditional “love at the first sight”. But what about “spiritual fathering at the first encounter?”

My “spiritual father” is π. He was born in the US in 1942. He told me the incredible story of his father. We danced a lot together, his gestures were unusual and full of his life story. On the last day, he told me: “You are delightful!” and kissed my forehead. He gave me a mini-pumpkin as a souvenir when we parted.

My spiritual aunt/sister is ε². She’s from Toronto. We have almost the same birthday, 19 years apart. On the first day, we randomly paired up and she said things that I’ve been thinking most of my life, picking the words that I would choose too.

I exchanged details with them. We will all cross each other again anyway, in one country or another. The 5 Rhythms is such a small wide world.

I’m heading back to London, the place I nickname Hostile City to myself, after this high time of my life. I’ve always been in conflict with it, and I sometimes forget where it originally came from.

Time for flow.

I don’t care about hating the city where I live any more. After all, London is a hot spot of earth with super cool human disco dancers too.

Dusk of Brooklyn, Dawn of Philadelphia

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I read the phrase “Dusk of Brooklyn” in a magazine or leaflet somewhere, years ago. I don’t remember the context, but I remember contemplating this appealing mental image with desire. I wrote the expression at the top corner of a random note book. See, I need it now.

All of last week, the dusks of Brooklyn were mine. I let them inundate me like I wouldn’t let anyone. My New York time was peculiar. It’s been the quiet part of this adventure, like a restoring pause between two hectic discovery phases. Feels like I’m a New Yorker now and nothing special happens there cause I’m melting in the daily scenery and routine of the City.

I woke up at 5am this morning and finished the night on the Greyhound bus bound to Philadelphia. As the tradition requires, I spent my last night in New York on the 5 Rhythms dance floor. Every time the teacher was asking to pair up with another dancer, I was looking through the window and chose the Empire State Building as a partner. I love dancing with New York and I was shouting on the inside “Manifest that shit!!!!!”

It was such a joyous leaving party, very tall muscled (straight) guy wearing leggings with cat faces was there, and it never feels like I’m leaving New York anyway. I’ll come back again and again and again and one day I won’t have to leave. That’s how the story goes. (I played the Green Card Lottery on Friday and purchased the long life payment option, the “until you win” one. I had found out in the morning that I’m homeless when I get back to London. The friend I was subletting from is getting evicted. How fun! No roof upon my head in Hostile City. So, Mrs Goddess up there or whoever runs the lottery of life, it would be very welcome if I became a permanent US resident by Monday. Thank you.)

I’m sitting alone at a 24 hour diner in South Philadelphia on a rainy evening as I’m writing this. The Wheel of Fortune is playing soundless in the background. I love diners because they never close and are available for drowning your loneliness/sorrow/hunger at any time of night or day (not like people), because they have cosy seats which feel like private booths, because coffee refills are unlimited, because waitresses wear a uniform, and finally, because they are one of the archetypes of America that I cherish from all the 80s movies.

I’ve seen very little of Philly so far, but what stroke me is the number of American flags (way higher ratio than any other US city I’ve visited) and the colourful mosaics on the facades.

I’m in town for a 5 day long 5 Rhythms dance workshop called Cycles, about the map of our family history. It is taught by Jonathan Horan, the son of Gabrielle Roth, founder of the 5 Rhythms dance technique, who passed away two years ago today. We focused all day on the Mother figure: the actual Mother and the Cultural and Divine Mothers. It is hard to describe. I started the class hating everything and everyone for no reason and I gradually sank into the seductive charm of this odd technique. I had to tell strangers the circumstances of my conception and birth.

I loved it.

Dancing The 5 Rhythms In My Bra

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There is no ultimate New York experience without the 5 Rhythms and there wouldn’t be the 5 Rhythms without New York. It is where it was born, thanks to Mama G (Gabrielle Roth). It is no coincidence that the City and 5 Rhythms have this history together – they have their own space-time relationship. New York is a world in the world and the 5 Rhythms make you go through your whole life in supersonic time.

I have danced the 5 Rhythms in various cities, but New York doesn’t compare. The equation wins it all:

NYC energy + 5 Rhythms energy + seeing the Empire State Building shining on me through the window = take your best orgasm x 10 and you still won’t reach that level of intensity.

New York is the only place I’ve experienced where the practice goes through chaos two times – so there is not one but 2 peaks and it’s multiple climaxing. It is almost disturbing. I was about to faint.

Heat increased quickly and I ended up in my bra which enhanced the feeling of freedom and power. I physically lived the most intense moment of my life.

There was a girl on the dance floor with Lisbeth Salander’s haircut (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). She caught my eye. I ended up in a circle close to her. We touched but didn’t look at each other. She kissed my hand to close the night.

I hope she will be back.