Transient Reflections

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
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
(Before Midnight)
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.

Hair cut: Letting go
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

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

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

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.

The Chariot

Minneapolis, Minnesota

A difficult of challenging undertaking. Responsibilities that must be attended to. Ambition and achievement.Steve Luca via Japaridze Tarot

Selene’s last day in Nice arrived like a soft feather gently falling from the sky of a birdless region – soft and unexpected. That morning she grabbed her carry-on, her satchel, and water bottle and bid adieu to her Nicean flat. After whispering words of good riddance for the next flat inhibitor, Selene went down the stairs to be greeted by an early morning and a familiar face. Waiting outside was Nico. They were going to road trip together back to Paris, where Selene would spend the evening and a day to then take-off to Sri Lanka. But prior to the embarkment on her new adventure, Giuseppe had invited Selene over for a pre-departure breakfast.

Nico drove them both to Giuseppe’s beautiful majestic home. Selene was glad that the majestic view would be the last place she would be on Nice prior to take-off. Upon arriving, she felt the sensations of caress from the early morning breeze. Warmly, Giuseppe opened his front door and  welcomed Selene and Nico. To her surprise, Tristán and Ms. Laguerre had joined in on the celebration. “Selene, I want to thank you for rekindling my passion for life.” Giuseppe remarked. “Your presence was a gentle nudge from the universe reminding me to never let that inner fire go damp. In life, we’ve all experienced heart shattering losses, illogical situations, and more pain and suffering than any of us ever care to share. Yet those experiences are even more reason to forge forward in life with an open heart saturated with passion.” As they ate, they reminisced on the memories they created during Selene’s short stay. “Selene, I will miss you dearly. It is my hope that you’ll return to Nice someday! You know where to find me. I want to hear of all the people you meet and continue to enchant while you make your way around this globe. Your curiosity and hunger for life on the road have inspired me to take a trip of my own. In all my years of travel, there was one place that seemed to be most elusive: Antartica. In the modern day, it seems much easier to reach. If Tristán here is willing, I’d love for him to accompany me on the voyage to the furthest land below.” With a startled expression, Tristán nodded. “Well, my dear. I know that time is of the essence. Nico, it was a pleasure to meet you. If you’re ever near or around Nice or want company in one of the area cemetery’s, please let me know.” Selene grabbed a couple croissants, a pound of fresh strawberriesand some green grapes for the road. “Wait – before you leave. Let’s all do a toast.” Giuseppe rapidly made his way to his kitchen and returned with five wine glasses and a bottle of rosé. “Here’s to Selene. Here’s to Nico. Here’s to all of us. And most importantly, here’s to life on the road. May you travel. May you explore. May your interactions with this world make you feel alive.” They exchanged hugs. They said their goodbyes. Next destination: Paris.

Though tired from a night without sleep, Selene managed to stay awake as Nico drove through the South East of France heading North. The first part of the drive, they were surrounded by mountains and greenery. They first drove through Cannes, where Selene almost decided to change destination, but stood by her gut to continue on to Sri Lanka. On the road from Cannes towards Marseille, they were surrounded by open meadows, small towns, and the sonder of thousands. They continued driving from Avignon to Valence surrounded by Parc Naturel Régional de Luberon, Parc Naturel des Monts d’Ardèche, and Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors. At around four and a half hours in, they arrived at Lyon. Nico stopped the car overlooking a pleasant view and Selene awakened from a short nap. During her snooze, she had dreamt of a scene of a circus. She could see pulleys, unicycles, and bicycles floating in a gravity zapped space with a pastel-colored kaleidoscopic background.  What was it all supposed to represent? She shook her legs, closed her eyes, and inhaled the crisp air. “We’re so close to Geneva. If you had more time here, I’d definitely say we go.” Nico stated. Selene nodded, “I will return.”After a coffee refuel, they were back on the road, halfway to Paris. As Nico continued to drive, the mountainous terrain began to decrease in occurrence.  An hour into the drive towards the capital, Selene fell asleep only to be awakened by Nico prior to arrival into the city. “Selene! We’re arrived. Let’s get to my apartment to set down your belongings, grab a bite to eat, and decide what to do with what remains of the day.”

Four of Tides

four of tides
Durand Eastman Park, Rochester, NY

Dissatisfaction or discontent. Locked in habit or routine. Something taken for granted. A lack of appreciation Emotional detachment or disinterest.”  Steve Luca via Japaridze Tarott

Walking towards her flat, or what was to be called her flat for one more day, Selene came across a painting that struck a deeper chord of melancholy than the story of Freya and Giuseppe. As she walked by a gallery she saw a painting that was reminiscent of of Eric and Ariel in a world above the sea. In the middle of a pond there lay a canoe inhabited by a couple. They sat facing away from each other, back to back. The feminine figure in the painting was barely visible – her head turned away from her spectating viewers. All Selene could see was her long hair and her royal blue dress. Facing the audience, was the male figure. He was wearing a black cloak and his eyes were serenely shut with an expression of disappointment. The canoe was neither heading north nor south – or east or west. In the background of the painting there was a pink sky with a setting sun. In between the setting sun and the diverging couple, a tree deeply rooted in water created an organic arch.

The painting made Selene stop in her tracks – it reminded her of Steven. Selene had met Steven during her senior year as an undergraduate. She had met him at one of her kickboxing classes and had been attracted to the way that he controlled his energy. They instantly connected and cultivated a friendship until the moment prior to Selene taking off to New York – when they began to date. Eventually Steven moved to Brooklyn to be closer to Selene.  The day Selene decided to set jet and leave it all behind, she had forgotten one of the most important relationships in her life: Steven. Her 5’10 film making musician. Steven was adventurous, intelligent, dependable, and magnetic. Yet over the years, Selene had taken his presence for granted.

Salty rivers decorated Selene’s cheeks on the midnight hour. After two years of globetrotting, the grief she had packed away in a darkly lit room of her psyche finally gained enough speed to catch up to her conscious being. When she arrived at her flat, she grabbed her laptop, lit another one of Caer’s cigarettes, and began to write an email:

I know it’s been two years since we last spoke. I’m currently in Nice, France headed to Paris to meet with Nico tomorrow. After that, I’ll be heading to Sri Lanka for some undetermined amount of time. While in Nice, I met an older man by the name of Giuseppe. A recovering world-traveler turned bookstore owner. He shared many adventurous stories, but the most impactful of them all revolved around the loss of his love Freya. They dated, split apart to pursue their individual passions, and fate gave them the opportunity to reunite and build a life  together. However, the dream was cut short. Cervical cancer. Freya passed away. As I walked back to my flat, I came across a painting that made me think of our time together. All of a sudden, years of suppressed grief came to the surface and nearly drowned me. Steven, how did I ever not see your beauty? Why did not I not spend more silly time with you? Why wasn’t I able to relax in your presence? Today I thought about your dark sense of humor, your intelligence, your strength, and the way that you simply ‘understood me’. Not because you were some sort of psychic, but because we were somewhat similar – even with varied interests. If I could only travel back in time to stand beside you and watch you smoke a cigarette. If I could only travel back to sit next to you while you played a video game or read a book. If I could only travel back in time to accompany you to a bookstore. If I could only travel back in time to feel that warmth of your embrace. If I could only travel back in time to join you for a death metal dance party – yes, I mean that.

If I could only, but I can’t. I think some people come into our lives to teach us what goodness sounds like, what it feels like, what it looks like. Your presence in my life inspired me to become grounded. In your presence, I felt strong and capable. Not that I don’t have the same attributes without you  – I do. It’s just that when we were together, they were amplified. How many times did I hurriedly come back from class or practicum, to lay down next to you and assume the next day was a guarantee? How many times could I have slowed down a little, held you a little closer, kissed you a little deeper, heard you with more intent? After we parted ways, I was busy packing, selling, working at a few coffee shops to make this travel dream of mine come true. Today, I’m sitting from a balcony in Nice living my dreams. The one I spoke to you of. And suddenly, it hit me. You’re not here. Caer, Sofia, Dmitri, and Nico left yesterday. I returned to an empty apartment wishing you would have been waiting for me – with a whiskey coffee in hand. I wanted to crawl in bed with you and watch American Horror Story. I didn’t want to yell about the fact that I was bored because I was ‘indoors and not engaging with the world’.  Though I’ve met a lot of people and covered a lot of world, , I still miss you. I seek for you in everyone I meet.

My only hope for you is that you’ve met someone deserving of your attention. Someone that lights up your world and pays attention to the smallest of your details – the rate of your breath, the sound of your beating heart, the scars your skin carry, the tattoos that cover your body and their meanings. I hope they listen to music they can’t stand for the sake of making you happy. I hope they see you as an embodiment of magic – what we all are. I’m not writing this with the expectation of a response. I’m writing this because I’m burning. I’m writing this because I must. I’m writing this because I can. When I boarded that plane at JFK heading straight towards Cartagena, I remember listening to one song endlessly on repeat, while uncontrollably crying – Even Great Things by Elliott Moss:

You can’t have forests without any trees
Can’t have rivers without any water
You can’t smile without any teeth
And now you won’t have me
And now you won’t have me
It’s always hard to say goodbye
But even great things die sometimes

You can’t time without any sand
Can’t build cities without any men
You can’t lock fingers without any hands
I can’t go on, but I hope you can
It’s always hard to say goodbye
But even great things die sometimes
It’s always hard to say goodbye
But even great things die sometimes

Don’t worry, I stayed hydrated – the flight attendant gave me a water bottle, free of charge. Prior to settling back into his seat he mysteriously shared some words with me: ‘Sweetie, we’ve all been there’. Cheers to wherever in the world you may be, Steven.

With Love,

Selene xoxo”

She hit send, closed her laptop, lit another cigarette, and laid on the floor looking at the unusually bright star lit sky.

Two of Winds

two of winds
Booksmith in Haigh-Ashbury, San Francisco, California

Tension leading to an impasse. A balance of power. A conflict of worlds, ideas or ideals.” Steve Luca via Japaridze Tarot

Giuseppe’s gleeful demeanor darkened. His eye gaze shifted from the beauty of Parc Phoenix to memories of a distant past – almost as if the mention of her name had haunted him. “Freya? What makes you ask?” Selene quickly noted his change in body language – from the shift of his gaze to a slight slouch on his shoulder – Who was this woman? How exactly did she fit into Giuseppe’s life? “Ms. Laguerre?” Selene nodded. “Well, I think this is a conversation best saved for the bookstore. I can provide you with visuals – photographs, paintings, things of the like. What do you say we head to Trois de Jardins?” Selene shook her head yes and asked, “Would it be possible to stop by my flat on the way? I left my phone charger and I often use an application on my phone to catch rides back to the flat when it’s late at night.” Giuseppe responded, “Well, of course.” 

They arrived in the building where Selene’s flat was located and the smell of cigarettes overpowered the hallway. While Selene entered the apartment to get her phone charger, Giuseppe relished in the nicotine tinted air in the old brick building. The aroma reminded him  a New Year’s Eve he had spent with Freya in Boston. The year prior, both had taken a road trip across the United States starting in Los Angeles. For the entire month of December, they had stayed in a small apartment that belonged to one of the sibling’s of a friend of Freya’s.  “All set.” Selene came out of the flat ready to head to the bookstore. As they walked towards the bookstore Giuseppe began to tell Selene of that New Year’s Eve they had spent in the city among some of Freya’s friend. The joy he had felt. The year had been 1994.

Upon arriving at the bookstore, Giuseppe looked around, opened the store, turned on a small light and headed straight towards the painting room. He then remembered there was something he had forgotten. “Ah! The photo album!” He went to a small safe in the southeast corner of the room Selene had failed to notice the first time she entered. He opened the safe and pulled out what appeared to be a photo album. Giuseppe flipped through the pages until he pulled out a photo of a lovely ballerina. The photo was labeled as Freya (1965). “Right after I left Brazil in 1977, I went to Italy. My intention was to spend some time with my parents as they were in their fifties and time wasn’t moving backwards. I was twenty-six and it had been exactly a decade since I last had visited Naples. I remember arriving and feeling a warm embrace – as if the city never held onto any grudges for me having left. After a few nights home, I became restless. I think my parents wanted to keep me all to themselves – based on my travel patterns, they were afraid it was the last time they were to see me. On a Friday night, January 27th to be exact, I decided to head to a pub in the center of the city. It was there that I met Freya.  Her hair was up in a tight ballerina bun, she wore a sleeveless, patterned dress that rested right above the knee, and high-heels. She made the room brighter. That night I had the courage to speak to her. We spoke for the entirety of the night and once the pub closed, we walked around the city until we saw the sunrise. That night, I asked her if it was possible to see her again. She told me to meet her at the same pub the following Friday.”

Giuseppe flipped through the photo book frantically searching for something. Suddenly, he stopped and carefully pulled another photograph out of its encasing – a photo of the pub from March 1968. “How long did you stay in Naples?” Giuseppe chuckled. “I had promised my parents that I was only going to stay for a two-week time period. Yet, the week after meeting Freya, she was all I could think about. Normally, I would be planning for my next city, for my next stay, for my next adventure. That week was different. Every corner I turned, I would do so hoping and praying I would run into the lovely ballerina I had met at the pub. At this point in my life, I had met my fair share of beautiful people, but Freya’s intense and direct energy was captivating in a manner I barely have the words to describe. I’ve spent the rest of my life buried in books in an attempt to find the right words to describe the essence of her soul.” Selene looked at the old man in front of her light up as he spoke of this woman that had changed the way he perceived the world.

He continued, “The following Friday, I awaked with an all-consuming joie de vivre. I remember nearly skipping on my way to the pub! That night, I asked Freya that if at all possible, I wanted to see her more often. I still remember her laughter and the twinkle in her eyes when she responded, ‘I’ll have to see if it that’s possible’. She led a demanding life devoted to the dance universe. It was her passion. I still can feel sensations in my body arise when I remember the first time that I saw her dance in front of an audience – it’s almost as if she was possessed by the all the muses themselves. Eventually we began to see each other more often. My two weeks turned into months. I found a job in Naples. Got a small apartment near the pub. And lived contently in one place for a while. At the same time, I reconnected with a lot of my childhood friends. My life flourished. However, one evening while flipping through my travel journals I felt a deep melancholy settle in my soul. On a Thursday evening, while waiting for Freya, I took out a map from my satchel – one I always carried with me. There was still so much world for me left to see. When Freya arrived, I asked her to travel the world with me. I told her of this elaborate story of us I had managed to craft that afternoon. Freya began to cry and then spoke to me in anger, ‘How dare you insinuate that I leave my dance career behind! You are like those other men!’ She walked out of the coffee shop and ran down the street. I chased after her. I apologized – but suddenly it seemed as if something had been broken.” Giuseppe’s story reminded Selene a lot of the story Mr. Flaubert had shared with her. However, it seemed that though Mr. Flaubert had eventually found a new Mrs. Flaubert, Giuseppe had not.

In July of 1978, I gathered all of my savings, packed all of my bags and headed to India. After arriving, I felt an empty void in my soul for the many days, weeks, and months that came. I wrote to Freya on a daily basis. So much so that the india post workers knew me by my first name. Freya never responded to any of my letters. I painted this painting – Two of Winds to try and capture what I felt was going on between us.” Selene looked at the painting in front of her. The painting was a lot more minimal that Giuseppe’s other paintings. It wore a light blue, slightly cloudy background and had an odd figure in the forefront. The head of the figure was in the shape of a bat – forming a dark face in the middle. From the wings of the bat, the body was split into two. The right side of the body was yellow and bore a geometric shape. The left side of the body was that of snake. Both pieces were conjoined by a conch from which a pair of hands protruded; the right holding a spear, the left holding a sword. That Christmas, December of 1978, she appeared in front of my apartment. It was a rather embarrassing day. I was walking home with a woman I had just gone on a date with, only to be greeted by a fiercely powerful ballerina at my door. When I arrived at my door that evening, I remember bursting into laughter. I remember feeling tense and saying, ‘Freya, next time you plan to visit, please warn me in advance!’ The woman I had walked home with must have felt the tension because she simply walked away.  There we were – Freya and I, face to face. After our encounter in India, I continued to travel and Freya continued to visit me during the holidays. This arrangement was ongoing for five years. She continued dancing, I continued to voyage. In 1983, Freya relocated to Nice to become a dance teacher – eventually opening a studio of her own. I followed her there and we began to build a life. And here I am today.”

Selene looked at the calendar sitting on top of the bookshelf. She stared at the date it displayed – her second to last night in Nice. Though her time there had been riddled by illness, not exactly what she had expected, it had been transformative. “Where is Freya today?” Holding back tears, Giuseppe responded: “We built a beautiful life. In the beginning, while she continued to establish her dance school, I continued to travel solo. Once her school was established, we traveled together. We would go to two countries per year for extended periods of time. She loved it!” Giuseppe laughed as he spoke of her joy. “A year after our New Year’s Eve in Boston, she was diagnosed with late stage cervical cancer. A year after her diagnosis, in November of 1997, she passed away. Well my dear, I think it’s time I close shop and you head back. You have long travels ahead of you.”  Selene said her goodbyes to Giuseppe. That night, instead of calling a ride home, she decided to walk under the full moon. While she took breath after breath on the streets of Nice she contemplated the pain that we all carried, the grief that has been in residence with the joys of the brightest souls on Earth – the full range of feelings in the human experience.