Apoptosis and Shooting Stars

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Sunset Hour in Austin, Texas

In light of recent events, particularly the passing of Anthony Bourdain, I’ve become deeply reflective of my own experience. On the day of his death, I wrote this little blurb:

In November 2009, I attempted death by suicide. I failed. After the fact, I was angry that I had to live. Eventually (with the help of a village), I came to realize that even if I physically died, I would remain alive metaphorically – in the memories and words of others. In due time, I found a “why” for living. My first why was travel. Naturally, I gravitated towards Anthony Bourdain and all that he stood for – he was charming, passionate, attractive, curious, an explorer, a pusher of boundaries, a novelty junkie. From No Reservations to Parts Unknown, I was present. He represented inspiration and possibility. In him I saw that by sticking around I’d at least get to see the world. While I’m not exactly sure what led Mr. Bourdain to that edge, I can speak of my own experience. I know what it’s like to feel trapped. I know what it’s like to stare at reality eye to eye and feel consumed by the weight of its meaninglessness, by the magnitude of its emptiness. I’m not writing this to deliver platitudes of positivity that bypass pain, but rather to acknowledge that pain is very real. There are qualified people out there willing to hold space for you and your discomfort without trying to change anything about you. Mr. Bourdain, I hope your soul finds rest and peace. In your honor, I’ll be trying an adventurous meal at a restaurant I’ve never been to.

Ever since my own suicide attempt, I’ve held a space of reverence and curiosity for death. If you look through my writing, you will often come across it in some form – literal or metaphoric. I’ve read about death, taken classes in the realms of thanatology, and have first hand experienced its presence in my life. Over the years, I’ve also learned that rarely is anything in life black or white. I believe that death is life’s greatest transformation agent. It is for that reason that in this piece of writing, I’m going to write about suicide.

Suicide. Often people hear about it and will do everything in their power to avoid the discomfort that it brings about. The Western developed world isn’t the most death positive of societies. In my opinion, it’s a society that actively avoids death in all its many forms. In the past few months, I’ve been philosophically exploring death  beyond our individual human experience of the the “self”. In my mental wanderings there were two mechanisms that surfaced that particularly caught my attention: apoptosis (“cell-suicide” or cell-programmed death) and “shooting starts”. Apoptosis comes from the Greek phrase “falling off”. This mechanism naturally occurs in our organism to quite literally keep us healthy. This programmed cell death is what allows us, as humans, to continue to grow and age. For example, the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body is called cancer. The body is so brilliant that it has developed a natural mechanism to keep homeostasis, balance. On the macro scale, there are shooting stars: meteoroids that fall into the Earth’s atmosphere  and burn. I’m sure that if I searched for more of these mechanisms, outside of the human individual experience of self, I would find more. A professor I had once said, “The universe destroys itself to recreate itself.” It’s a phrase that has captivated my curiosity throughout the years.

So, if these mechanisms are present in both the micro and macro scales, why do humans have a built-in aversion towards suicide? Of course, you can argue that from an evolutionary stand-point, we’re hard-wired to want our species to thrive, to continue. Yet from a more real human experience perspective, I’d like to present the theory that perhaps our discomfort with suicide is yet another manifestation of our obsession to avoid the d word: death. Death is necessary for life. One without the other would be catastrophic. As I mentioned above, I think death is a change agent that although often unwanted it ensures the continuation we fervently desire. In recent years, the conversation around death has been slowly shifting including that of suicide. The concept of death with dignity or physician assisted suicide has come forth as a potential option for the terminally ill. If we get to choose how we live, why can’t we choose how we die? I’m not at all implying that suicide is “the answer” nor encouraging it, but I think under certain circumstances it’s another option. Now that being said, I’d like to explore the concept of context.

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Trail in Austin, Texas

Based on my own experiences and hearing the stories of others, I’ve often noticed that my reactions towards death by suicide vary depending on context. For example, in the case of Brittany Maynard, a woman with terminal brain cancer who chose death with dignity (physician-assisted suicide), I felt an outpouring of respect and compassion. It was a decision that seemed logical, thought-out, and well-planned. She reached out beyond her experience, consulted her loved ones as well as professionals, and made the decision that would best suit her. Her experience seemed to have a different tone than someone unexpectedly taking their life. From my own experience, I feel deep love, empathy, and sorrow for the second scenario – for an unplanned suicide. Why the difference? I recognize that I don’t know it all. I can’t see all perspectives, all truths. From my own failed attempt to the sudden and unexpected deaths by suicide of others, what makes me ache for the scenario, is the intensity of silent pain and suffering the individual may have been undergoing. Depression is real. Accumulated psychic, emotional, and mental pain is very real. Unprocessed trauma is real. Mental health awareness is vital. Yet in addition to a sensibility to mental illness, I think it’s important that we recognize that the culture that we’ve created isn’t conducive to well-being. In the past two-decades the incidence of mental illness has increased. Is it possible that the majority of a society is pathological? Or is it the case that the increased rate in incidence of mental illness is a symptom of a sick culture, of a deeper issue? 

In the case of Brittany Maynard, her pain, though not first-hand experienced by the people in her life, was made vocal. It was out in the open. This is not to say that her death wasn’t difficult for her loved ones. I can imagine that it was heart-wrenching as loss can be, but there was an understanding, a knowingness of the pain that was to come. Yet, there are a lot of people that suffer in silence. 

So, if you suspect that someone is in deep pain or going through a difficult situation, or even openly declare that they are feeling suicidal, what can you do? Before I begin, I’d like to state that I’m not a licensed mental health professional. What I’m going to write in the sentences to come is based on my experience while being on the edge as well as my listening to the experience of others. First, I’d like to bring up the gift of presence. To be present without trying to change another is in my opinion the ultimate gift of love. I know it can be tempting to try to steer a suffering person to look at the “positive” side of life, but from my experience and that of sitting with others, the power of seeing someone and acknowledging their current reality, regardless of what that may be, is powerful. There is potency in being seen, in being heard, in being held. Secondly, remember why you love them. Remember the beautiful qualities you see in that person and tell them why you care for them and their existence. If possible, try to make it organic and authentic. Try to not make it sound like a “this is why I don’t want to lose you” pre-rehearsed speech. Remind them that they have worth and value by just being. Thirdly, extend invitations. Even if your invitations are not accepted, invite them to hang out, to grab a meal, to grab coffee, to do something they enjoy. Lastly, if you feel at a loss, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from someone that might be able to support you. Having difficult conversations can be one of the most intimidating parts of the human experience. 

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Live band in Austin, Texas

I haven’t covered the complexity of suicide nor explored all the little nuances that have exploration potential in this think-piece. From living, I’ve gathered that the human experience is grey and in technicolor rather than black and white. Over the years, I’ve learned that even if you have the best of intentions and put forth an incredible amount of effort towards everything you do, sometimes you will lose. Failure is part of the human experience. I’ve also learned, that while you can hold space, love, and be there for another, you don’t get to control other people. We all have our own agency. We all have the right to make choices. And when the choices of another or others in general don’t seem to make sense to you, I invite you to try to make space for the possibility that there might be something to the situation that you can’t see. That there might be a bigger picture and hidden details that may never make their way to the surface. The human experience invites us to make space for mystery. Death, the unknown, is an invitation to reflect in the mysteries of being. Perhaps, there is more to this life than what the eyes can see. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say: in life, there are parts unknown.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S): 1-800-273-8255International Association for Suicide Prevention Befrienders Worldwide

The Way of the Snake

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Ruinas Panameñas (Panamanian Ruins), Panama City, Panama

Silence.

I’ve managed to ride through the swells of life with beautiful carving. I’ve fallen into the ocean, the depths of the unconscious, and nearly drowned, more times than I can count. I’ve done it all in silence. I’ve turned ruins into cities. I’ve transmuted pain into fuel and alchemized sorrow into power. I’ve sat with trauma, have sailed through chaos, and have surfed through life toppled by currents of despair. I’ve done it all in silence. With a near unbearable flexibility:  The way of the snake.

On Sundays, regardless of where in the world I may find myself, I’m often overcome by a wave of gratitude and deep reflection. Through vagabonding and wandering, I’ve met many likely souls. I can see it in their eyes – the mountains they’ve conquered, the depths they’ve dived, the storms they’ve stopped with their own bare hands.  They always carry a beautiful sheen in the eyes with a dash of unspeakable sadness. Their souls carry a reverent silence, though often they’re vibrant, lively, and penetrating. Travel has been the greatest tool to my awakening – awakening to my surroundings, to the magic that resides on our very soil, to our interconnectedness, our need for interdependence, our collective agony, the truth that’s found between the lines of the veil, a vehicle to the realization of my own humanity. Travel has and continues to provide me with a view of the bigger picture. It has shown me a deeper truth of the human experience – from our capacity to birth seemingly impossible beauty to our desire to destroy the beauty we worked so diligently to birth. And everything in-between.

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Panamá Viejo, Panama City, Panama

There are days when I walk down memory lane and return to the once eager 15-year-old girl whom held a piece of paper on her hands with words that would change the course of her life. That piece of paper was a portal into a world of magic – little did she know. That piece of paper was a ticket into a world of infinite possibility, the world of science. She started working in a research lab thanks to the National Science Foundation (NSF), which led her to get into medical school at the age of 17, which then led her to her people, and eventually to travel – lots of travel.  Regardless of the shiny surface, in the 12 years that have transpired since, she has been to the depths of the underworld and back. All in silence.

Silence: her faithful companion, her constant guide.


These days,

I like large cities – their intensity matches the ferocity of my inner world. All dissonance is temporarily eliminated.

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New York, New York

Suddenly,

Contrast. Dissonance, change, and entropy find their way to inject their presence into my reality. I suddenly find myself peeking at the world through the looking-glass: Unspeakable joy cohabits with gut-wrenching despair. Ancient city ruins become adorned by modern metropolis backdrops. Conquered peaks are accompanied by all consuming loss. The double helix always unravels to replicate life. Meteoroids fall into the Earth’s atmosphere and burn; We call them shooting stars. A beautiful bird, spontaneously combusts – burning itself to ashes to rise again anew. In summation, the paradox of the human experience.

I move the glass aside and come across a sign. Adorned by neon pink lighting, the bold lettering reads – “Welcome to Reality: Where Truth becomes truths.”

 

Wild Enchantment

“In the fields, she stopped and took a deep breath of the flower-scented air. It was dearer to her than her kin, better than a lover, wiser than a book. And for a moment she rediscovered the purpose of her life. She was here on this earth to absorb its wild enchantment.” Boris Pasternak

It’s been quite some time since I’ve been inspired to write on this cyber space. Most of my writing has occurred in small journals, in airport napkins, in heaps of receipts, in the notes section of my calendar. The past few months have been intensely packed with training for my new position, adapting to a non-office based lifestyle, and travel. Most recently, I’ve been galavanting the streets of Panama  – a lovely Latin American gem.

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Panama City, Panama

The past few months have also been packed with a lot of growth and knowledge. For example, I prefer to travel on my own; and don’t you dare give me an ultimatum! My personal freedom seems to be my top priority these days. I’ve reached a peak of detachment, where everything is just passing by and I am simply passing through. I’m finally learning and understanding what these woo-woo mystical words mean: on topics such as manifestation, creation of your reality, and creating major change by simply creating small changes to the way you react to pretty much anything. I’m using psychology to ground these beliefs and give them substance. Now a days, I’m really starting to believe that I’m here on this Earth to simply have a human experience – there is no right or wrong way to do it.

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Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama

Then, there are thoughts of you. Faint memories of you occasionally seep themselves into my conscious state. After we parted ways, I adopted an unconscious belief that romance was an illusion that didn’t belong in my reality. I’ve experienced lots of attraction, but I can’t remember the last time that I had a crush. I can’t remember the last time someone made me giggle and feel giddy and full of butterflies. There’s no space in my life for anything other than casual encounters. I think that when you left, you took all the romanticism that resided within me and now I’m empty. Yet, it’s a beautiful emptiness – one that I welcome. A voidness that I’ve honored and that life has filled with adventure and travel – with new friends and countless stories. After Panama City, there’s Boston, then there’s Austin. Texas always still reminds me of you. How’s the post-Navy life? Did you follow those other dreams you spoke of? The only memories that remain of you are feeble ones and they’re no longer accompanied with emotion.

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Cambutal, Panama

I’m currently trying to figure out what city I’d like to get open dive certified in: Should I choose Barcelona (though the water is bound to be quite cold later in the year) or should I go with Conzumel (and ring in the new year with watery depth style)? I will decide within the month, but only time will tell. In the mean time, I’ll dedicate myself to lots of swim practice – reconnecting with my Pisces moon.

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Cambutal, Panama

Just wanted to write in this space with some minor updates. So much has changed since December that it’s sort of unreal. How does life do that? How does it change so quickly? So swiftly? Until next time xoxo.

Transient Reflections

JESSE
No, it’s not just three characters,
it’s a whole group of people. It’s
like, I’m working on a chapter right
now about a young Greek man named
Achilles.
ACHILLES
Me?
JESSE
Well, he’s named after you. And
this guy is caught in a loop where
all he sees is the transient nature
of everything, right? Like he looks
out to sea and thinks of the day
it’s gonna be dry and littered with
fossils.
(Before Midnight)
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Enchantment
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Glassy Reflections

Favorite song in 2017: Daylight by Beauvois

Favorite city visited: Honolulu, Hawaii

Favorite month: April

Favorite yoga pose: Standing Bow Pulling Pose (Balance, Focus, Concentration)

Favorite album: Jessie Ware’s Glasshouse

Deeply grateful for: Katie Pelkey – Meeting you was life-changing.

The death card. In tarot the death card is representative of transition (it is not often that it represents literal death). Rather it stands as a symbol of transformation – from one form of something into another. After all, death is the ultimate form of transformation. In a matter of days, I will be closing a chapter of my life which contains the past eleven years. From 2006 to the present. Prior to putting the finishing touches into this reflection, I coincidentally came across my first mentor – Dr. Sam, the cancer researcher from Cameroon. At times it seems as much as changed, at others it appears as if all has stayed the same. For the past few weeks, I’ve been deeply reflecting on my worth and value as a human being. What is my worth? What does it mean to be of value? Do I have either?

During these past few weeks, I’ve been able to catch a daily sunrise and sunset due to an inability to sleep. Food is interesting only sometimes. Running is the companion that keeps me grounded. I guess my yoga practice does too. Meditation allows me to function from day to day.  I’ve cried on a daily basis. It’s almost as if I’m purging everything I’ve been unwilling to let go of for the past decade in time to begin writing this new chapter. My heart and soul ache. The destroyer in me wants to seal this chapter shut, weave the pages together, and then burn whatever “garbage” I created.  Yet the artist in me thinks and wants differently.  The artist in me wants me to go find the most expensive of inks, the most beautiful pages, and a magical garden space. It wants me to work on making the last few sentences of this chapter the most beautiful yet. It wants me to take whatever residual pain is resurfacing and turn it into magnificent art. Ernest Hemingway once said, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.”

Worth and value.

worth: the value equivalent to that of someone or something under consideration; the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated.

value: the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.

I’ve spent the past decade plus trying to obtain some external ideal – in almost every aspect of my life.  And I suppose hard work does pay off because I landed my dream job, which I’m deeply grateful for and excited about! However, as I move into this new space and I reflect on how I truly feel inside versus how my life looks like on the outside, I am met with cognitive dissonance and sadness. I could write about everything that has occurred in these past eleven years, but the events don’t seem to be fruitful to share as much as my response to these events. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that my life looks good, but it doesn’t necessarily feel that way. I’ve been reading about astrology lately, for nothing more than curiosity (and to inform a writing piece I’m working on), and I found it rather interesting that the top recommended career for someone like me, with an ascendant in Cancer and a moon in Pisces is an actor/actress – the ultimate empath, a master of mystery, compassion, depth, and disguise. The fluidity in this combination quite literally allow me to take on whatever character I desire. Shape shifter. Rather than trying to run away from the discomfort of the sensations that run through me, I stand before my soul  with eyes of fire wanting to see nothing, but the truth. Whenever, I feel worthless or like I have nothing to offer this world, I allow myself to feel as such. Typically I enter a self-dialogue where I allow all of my fears to be manifested in front of me (it’s a really cool exercise).

What if you are worthless? Perhaps you are, but you’re still alive and breathing unable to escape the grips of time.

What if you have no value? Perhaps this is true as well, but why do you need to be of value?

What if you’re ugly? You are. What if you’re not intelligent? You’re not. What if you’re not good enough? You’re not. What if you’re not soft enough? You’re not. What if you’re too cold and harsh? You are. What if you are too intense? You are grossly intense. What if you’re a slut? You are. What if you’re incapable of building anything worthwhile in this world? You’re utterly incapable.

These iterations continue until I inevitably arrive at this question: What if you simply allow yourself to be?

I’ve struggled with this question for as long as I can remember. I’ve excelled at becoming a human doing, but how do I allow myself to become a human being?

As I stay present with this dialogue, time and time again I come to the same realization: I still have the greatest gift of them all – life force flows through my body. Which then leads me to an entirely different realm of thought: transience and the fragility of life. My favorite film series is a trilogy directed by Richard Linklater known as the Before series (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight). The series was inspired by a real-life encounter where the director spent a day with a woman in Philadelphia only to later  find out she had died in a motorcycle accident. Often, when I am with family or friends this story crosses my mind. The last time I kissed mami goodbye may very well be my last. The last movie I saw with my sister might have been it. The last time I got a text from him, a call from her, or a FaceTime session with them may be all I ever get on this earthly plane. Now is all we have and while it’s intelligent to dream and plan for tomorrow, it’s wise to stay grounded in today.  I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know how much longer I’ll have to roam and wander around this globe, but I sure know one thing: I’m going to make it count. With a Midheaven in Aries, the inner warrior princess in me is determined to thrive or else! Here’s to 2018. One day at a time. One breath at a time.

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Hair cut: Letting go
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Reminds me of Kintsugi

P.S.  I didn’t sleep during my last night in Honolulu. Though I had to catch a million flights to get to Puerto Rico, I decided to roam around the island in my rental car instead. At around 5AM, I made my way to Waikiki to catch the sunrise. As I parked my car, this song came on Sunset Lover. I remember that tears strolled down my cheek as I witnessed a ravishing Pacific sunrise. The sun must have been setting somewhere…

I’ve decided this new chapter I’m writing will be called Symphony.

The Hermit

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Flying Away

Distractions are to be avoided. A goal can be attained. Introspection and contemplation are required. The need for independence and self-awareness. One who may provide guidance or aid.Steve Luca via Japaridze Tarot

Thank you so much, Nico.” Selene said as she hugged Nico goodbye and headed towards the entry of Charles de Gaulle airport. “It was my pleasure. Don’t forget about me. Visit soon.” Selene nodded and walked away to be greeted by automatic parting doors. As soon as she was inside the airport, she felt the sensation of electricity possess her body. There was something so magical about these portals that allowed humans to get from one place to another with the use of what you could call a mechanical bird. At the security checkpoint, she showed her the clerk her passport as well as the boarding pass on her phone. She walked down a hallway and made her way to the gate heading towards Dubai. Prior to arriving to Colombo, there was a layover in Dubai.

Selene looked around, took a deep breath, and had opened up her laptop. Quite some time had passed since she had felt the inspiration to share her journey with the cyber world. Selene was the writer of a blog and would often update her readers with photographs and stories from her travels. Though she mainly used the platform to share poetry about heartache and triumph, the paradox of the human experience, and controversial topics, at times she would show her readers the places and spaces that had inspired the pieces in the first place. However, while in Nice, something had shifted. Selene found herself being very selective, which what she was willing to share. Furthermore, her relationship to travel had begun to take a different form.

Words had always been Selene’s favorite healing potions. When she wrote, she felt as if she could alchemize all the internal confusion within into something easier to make space for. Words allowed her to contain the intensity of her emotions. They allowed her to experience emotions without becoming them. Though there were times, when she recognized that allowing oneself to fully feel was the best medicine. To feel without words. To feel without containment. To become so submerged in the emotion that there was no like of demarcation between what it was and whom she was. While those moments of complete absorption were cathartic, Selene knew that she had to conserve her energy for what lay ahead. It was one of those moments where she had to tame her feelings with words.

I’m currently sitting  at Charles de Gaulle airport headed towards Dubai. Tomorrow, I’ll be arriving in Colombo to spend an indeterminate amount of time. I just spent the last three weeks in France. Mostly in Nice with the last day and a half in Paris. As you may have noticed, I have been largely disconnected. This is because I have been reflecting on what travel means to me. As a result, I have also been interrogating myself in order to determine the direction in which I want my life to head towards. For the past few years, I have survived off of running and blog and writing feature articles for online and paper publications.  From having the opportunity to do such remote work, I have been gifted with the flexibility travel widely.  While in Nice, I met a cast of colorful characters, that I can say with certainty have changed the course of my life – Giuseppe, Ms. Laguerre, Tristán, and the Flaurberts. These individuals have inspired me to live with more depth, with more truth, and with more authenticity. All of these human beings have traveled the world, yet in the present moment they lead what you would call a more ‘settled life’. None of them are nomads. At the core of all which they shared it appeared as if what was truly important to these people was the quality and strength of their relationships. Every single one of them has endured soul-shattering heart break. Yet every single one of them appreciates life in a manner that is near indescribable. While I have enjoyed (and continue to do so) writing on this platform as well as all the monthly publications I’m allowed to contribute to, there is a part of me that knows that there is something more. There’s a part of me that recognizes that I have more to give. A part that can only be shared once I explore it on my own. As it stands that part of me lies deep within uncovered in the shadows. Here’s to my favorite activity: exploration.”

Mesdames et Messieurs, nous sommes prêts à embarquer.” A voice spoke over the speaker. It was time for Selene to say goodbye to Paris to head on to the next wonder space. As she made her way to her seat, she thought of all the moments she shared with others while in Nice. Ah – a window seat. Selene settled in a observed the workers on the tarmac communicate with each other. In her gut, butterflies increasingly took flight as the scene was familiar to her mind – it was time for takeoff. As the plane sped on the runway, Selene’s heart began to race. This was the sensation that she lived for – what she continuously craved. Once the aircraft had lifted off the ground, she waved the Parisian landscape goodbye through her peephole window. Twenty minutes later, Selene was soundly asleep.

In Selene’s dreamworld appeared a dark scene, unveiled. The canvas of the scene was painted a dark, midnight blue decorated with textured orbs. In addition to the orbs, there was the planet Saturn, a diamond, and a lamp. In the center of scene there was a triangle partly overshadowed by a rectangle. The inside of the triangle base was painted black.  At the center, there knelt a woman holding a child – highlighted by subtle pink hues and a yellow undertone. From the upper part of the triangle, right where the triangle and the rectangle met, there was a hand holding an oil lamp. The top of triangle was decorated by a rectangle. The background of the rectangle was that of a blue sky with wispy clouds. In the lower portion of the rectangle, right above the mother and child, there was a circular kaleidoscope containing smaller versions of itself with varying visuals. From the circle, protruded a black, plastic arm holding a head which bore an indifferent expression. The face of the head was decorated with chalk and carried a small lamp in the center of its head.  Suddenly, Selene awakened as her body recalled the sensations of landing. In a little under seven hours, they had made their way to Dubai International Airport.

 

The Empress

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Charleston, South Carolina

“Unconditional love. Harmony and nature. Satisfaction and sensual pleasure. A new romance.” Steve Luca via Japaridze Tarot

I like it here. It has a semblance of home.” Selen expressed as she took a bite of a Pistachio and English muffin. It was the last day prior to Selene departing for Sri Lanka and a Parisian world of wonder lay before her. They both had awaked early in the morning and had made their way to Rue Jean Pierre Rimbaud to The Hood, a neighborhood café. “It’s one of my favorites.” Nico responded. The space was a self-described coffee shop for music lovers. From the outside, it was lined with long glass panels reminding Selene of Giuseppe’s book shop.Upon entering, a tile adorned counter appeared. Beyond the counter, a staircase led to a second level. Tables with varying chairs and stools decorated the stone floor. The walls were mostly white, though at times interrupted by the presence of a green-pink wall paper. The wall paper reminded Selene of one of Mr. Flaubert’s paintings. It was called The Empress. The painting was laden with vivid colors. At its deepest layer, the background was colored a bright yellow on the top half and a grass green on the bottom half; representing a sun-lit heaven backdrop and the earth. On the top upper left-hand corner, a giant fuchsia flower petal grazed the bright background. Gravity didn’t exist in the world the painting portrayed. There were orbs – dark and light, material and energetic aimlessly wandering on the canvas. Some of the floating objects stood out: a conch, a colored scarf, and a star fish. To the center right of the canvas appeared a floating woman. She was floating through the air, head down. Her skin was a turquoise hue, one of her breasts were exposed, and she had additional appendages protruding from her body. From her head, curly, sponge-textured fiery orange locks of hair expanded onto the heavens. 

They paid the check and began to aimlessly walk. For the remainder of the day, Selene and Nico strolled by the eiffel tower, the Louvre, Notre-Dame, Arc de Triomphe, and other well-known Parisian sites. As the sun began to set and the night began to approach, they decided to head to the Latin Quarter to dance the night away.  She fell in love with the way the city made her feel. The next morning, Selene was set to fly to Sri Lanka.

Two of Tides

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LoPan (Cocktail bar), Toronto, Canada

Love and commitment. A bond formed. Establishing a new partnership or joint project. Forgiveness for a past slight. Avoid isolation. Look for connections. Mutual assistance. Attraction of opposites.Steve Luca via Japaridze Tarot

After dropping all of Selene’s belongings at the apartment, Nico returned the car at the rental car agency. Then Selene and Nico walked to the apartment on Rue de Ménilmontant.  Prior to heading to Nico’s apartment, they stopped at a bar to grab a quick bite to eat and perhaps a drink. As soon as they walked in, Nico noticed that Selene’s energy levels weren’t quite as high as usual and proposed they head back. Though well past the evening time, Selene loved the coffee shops, the art studios, and the restaurants that were available just outside the door. Nico lived in a small apartment, which he shared with a classmate. From the outside the building was a beige color lined with Juliette balconies. The very first level was occupied by a bridal shower and a store that provided electrician services. The nicotine-smelling, stained, carpeted staircase up to Nico’s apartment, reminded Selene of her flat in Nice. “Welcome. My roommate is currently out of town. I know you’re tired so I think it’s best if we stay in tonight so we can take full advantage of the day tomorrow. Would you like a glass of wine? Tea? Water?” Selene responded, “I’d love some peppermint tea, if you have it.” 

They walked into the small kitchen, where Nico began to prepare a kettle. “You know, I really appreciate that we’ve been friends for quite a while. On days when I’m exhausted is almost as if you feel it. While I love my life on the road, moments like these make me appreciate all of you that much more – there’s a beautiful sense of security and understanding from bonds as long as the one we’ve shared. They also serve as proof that though we continue to evolve and change, in many ways we remain the same. I find that oddly comforting. That though I’m no longer a grad student riddled by night full of stress and little sleep, when I’m sleepy I become a bit withdrawn and those closest to me can instantly tell.” Nico walked over towards Selene and hugged her. “I love that although you’re no longer a grad student slaving your life away in New York, that you’re still keenly observant. You’re sharper than ever. I think that path the that you’ve chosen for yourself not only suits you, but it’s quite courageous. Out of all of my friends, I particularly enjoy that we can laugh over silly matters, drink our sorrows away, make fools of ourselves, but also have the capacity to have deep intellectual and spiritual conversations.” 

Nico, I’ve missed you. I’m sorry, I wasn’t able to spend more time with you while in Nice. My body had been calling my attention and in true Selene nature, I just kept going, going, going until I get sick. If there’s anything that I learned this time around, it’s that I need to learn to take better of myself. Being on the road alone, decreases your immune system’s ability to fight anything off – including a simple cold! My body’s teaching me so much as I continue to travel. Well, I won’t keep ranting on. I’ll save the rest of my thoughts for tomorrow. It’s time for me to sleep. Good night, Nico.”

Bonne nuit.”

That night Selene had a dream of a wolf and a dog. Though having different habitats and overall lifestyles, both belong to the same species.  In the dream, they appeared to be close – protective of each other. The dog had blue eyes and the wolf had yellow eyes. They stood upon a wet surface with a pink-green background staring at the dreamscape viewer: Selene.