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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Québec City : 10 Years After

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I first went to Québec City in July 2001 for a modern dance summer school. I was meant to stay for a month. My return ticket was booked and my bag was packed with summer clothes. I stayed for 3 years – 2 of them without seeing France at all. I slightly rearranged my original plans to go study at University in Lyon. After a few weeks in Québec, I called France and said: “That’s it, I’m staying.” I was 18 and crazily willing to embrace life. Now I am 30 and still being faithful to my posh gypsy life style. I embrace life in an even crazier way because I am financially stable and I don’t care anymore about what people think of me. I did all along my 20s. That’s enough. (Now I reply : “Fuck you. I rock the world.”) (I am very close to get “Fuck you” tattooed on my skin on a teenagy spot. Just like that.)

Back then in 2001, I randomly enrolled for a modern dance professional program without knowing too much what kind of trouble I was getting myself into. I loved it and hated it so much from one day to the other that I don’t think I’ll ever experience a similar level of thermic amplitude in my day to day routine whatever else I do in life.

Dance is both physically and mentally the most demanding discipline, because it requires all your body AND all your emotions. There is not much left to yourself. Passion for dance can resemble a malediction. I remember going through phases when I was crying everyday, not only out of sorrow or doubts – because questioning yourself rapidly becomes your daily companionship and you don’t notice it anymore. It was purely chemical, like the effect of adrenaline constantly rushing in my veins combined with nervous exhaustion.

I also remember that there has been no other period of my life when I was so strongly driven to get up every morning of my life with the certitude that my day ahead was super important not only for myself, but for the world’s karma. Dancers indisputably make the world a better place, because society misunderstands them and always implies that they are useless.  But they are stubborn enough to keep fighting this secret battle towards some kind of artistic and physical achievement. Dancers are my favourite heroes.

So every morning of my life, I was running to get settled at the ballet bar with the intimate conviction that I was at the heart of my own action, that I was touching the core of the true nature of my existence. I almost never found this exact same feeling again on a day to day basis, although I reshape my routine every couple of years. Just inhabiting your life and your body to the fullest, I suppose. I can confirm that I am way happier and more balanced today though. I couldn’t deal with this perpetual dissatisfaction of myself. I believe everything is at the right place.

On my 3 year journey to artistic introspection and self-discovery, through all the ups and downs, all the enthusiasm and passion followed by cruel disappointments were along with me 8 partners in crime. We were 9 strong-minded girls graduating together after 3 intensive years of bounding. We didn’t only dance together, we became adults together. And we wiped each other’s tears in a couple of occasions. But there was also tons of laughter, because dancing can be hilarious and we had a few nutcase teachers*. Most teachers had trouble with us, because they struggled coping with our strong collective energy. We were bound in a way that people exterior to our group couldn’t quite break into it.

We put our own show together over the last year, from fundraising (selling hot dogs or dates with random guys in a bar) (no kidding. I was sold $100 to a farmer for a date, to pay for our dance trip to NYC**) to conceiving the costumes whilst training and performing the choreographies.

I moved back to Europe shortly after our last ever show together, and we vowed to reunite every 5 years to keep posted on each other’s life. We’ve been successfully doing it. First reunion was in 2009. As the only foreign, I hadn’t seen anyone in 5 years and I was welcomed again like an exotic bird. Even some of the girls who didn’t finish the program showed up. That’s how hot we are.

Second reunion was last Friday. The 10 year anniversary of our graduation: 2004-2014. No one was missing! I took advantage of my adventures in NYC to pay those guys a visit. Our cult ballet teacher, λβ, gave us a class, reiterating as a motto to our old bodies : “The boundary between pride and stupidity is very thin.” Our cult percussionist, ΣH, was playing live music. It felt so natural to dance back together holding the same ballet bar that there was a time warp twist to it.

We had an endless dinner as it took 4 good hours to go around the table and collect everyone’s updates, what our respective lives are like now. Our 3 male waiters really took our group in affection, because every time they were entering our private room they were catching bribes of one or the other’s adventures and péripéties. At some point they even pulled themselves a chair to sit down at our table and listen to the end of a story. We were the last customers in the restaurant, the staff was desperate to go home but they still told us at the end of the night that we were a very inspirational group of friends and that all girls should stick together like we do! Oh yes!

We still had so much to catch up that we piteously ended up at the MacDonald’s drinking gross tea. Who cares, I would have eaten a burger that night just to enjoy more of the company. μμ, who turned 30 at midnight, had to spend the first couple of hours of her 30s at MacDonald’s, but with the hell of ladies around her to compensate.

At the last reunion 5 years ago, there was only 1 child for the whole group, now there are 9. And 3 pregnant women around the table. I am one of the 3 childless. I pondered and decided that I am fine with it. I had so many epic international house movings, horror break up and raising from the grave stories to tell that I effortlessly filled in the time I was allowed.

It was such a great day! It felt like a huge love puff. I needed it. My relationships with my female friends have sometimes been problematic, but these girls remain.

After 2009 reunion, I remember that I was feeling uncomfortably different, “why-don’t-I-have-a-house-and-a-boyfriend” type. I actually found the answer to “why don’t I have a boyfriend” that summer, and I believe our reunion rushed my urge to come out as a lesbian (including to my mum).

This time, just like every other girl of the group, I am feeling better with myself, more on track and in sync with my own rhythm. I may have children in this life or I may not. I am comfortable with both ends.

I will anyway keep creating my own type of life fertility.

*This is a broad topic that should be subject to an independent post

**This was very lucrative but really got us in trouble with the board of our school. Don’t sell people to make fast cash!!