Rose Petals in the Sand

We can do anything if we put our minds to it/ Take your whole life then you put a line through it (Eastside, benny blanco, Halsey & Khalid)

Rose Petal at Cassidy Beach, Oceanside, California

Getting lost in the lightness of being while communing with rose petals in the sand. Evidence of a life well lived: The beauty that the rose once held, now nearly faded. Change remains the only constant I’ve ever encountered. It’s been quite some time since I’ve poured pieces of my soul into cyberspace. Since I last wrote here, I’ve accepted and started a position in San Diego (county) California, I sublet my previous place, was hospitalized, found a place to live in Oceanside, flew across the country, and bought a car. Thankful for all the divine guidance throughout this process, as I don’t think it would have happened otherwise. 

It’s been the hell of a journey to get here. The past nine months, I lost complete track of my beingness. I was working 70-80 hours/weeks, spending 90% of my time completely alone, and living in a constant state of panic and anxiety. Within a few months, I found my self in an extremely dark place I thought I would never get out of. Whenever, I had “down time”, I would furiously apply to jobs because my soul knew the time had arrived. Opportunities began coming through my door – there was the UK (both Wales and England), there was Boston, Farmington (CT), Austin, San Francisco, and San Diego. As I started walking away from my previous situation and began to navigate towards a new one, I only made one promise to myself: “Go where it feels right.” I wasn’t being led by the external (like, “Wouldn’t it be cool to say you’re moving to London?!”), but rather was committed to following the call of my spirit. And my spirit was ferociously pulling me towards Southern California. Finally, on the 29th of August (2018), I accepted an offer from the amazing new company I now work for. I’m still in shock that such a unicorn of a place actually exists!

Beauty, Moonlight State Beach, Encinitas, California (Anyone know what kind of flower this is?!)

As I transition into this new space, I’m startled. It feels as if I’ve always lived here. It feels like home. The transition has been smoother than the rest of my life combined. This entire move has made me believe in fate and purpose in ways I could have never imagined. I’ve been met with nothing but kindness, love, and grace. My life is overflowing with beauty, with adventure, with abundance, and most importantly peace. Towards late 2017, I began working with a coach, Katie Pelkey (check her out!). One of the exercises she had me do towards the beginning of our work together was to outline my values – beauty, adventure, abundance, and ease. It’s Sunday, October 14th and though part of me does wish I could see my sister on her birthday, I feel entirely calm and I’m living by my values. I don’t have an itch to leave or go or flee. Life is moving as it’s supposed to. And I’m trusting that amazing things are yet to be discovered and uncovered. This is the beginning of a marvelous life adventure. The beginning of a new chapter in my life. The culmination of years worth of work. The payout as Saturn returns. In gratitude, in awe, with love, Wanda.

Moonlight State Beach, Encinitas, California

P.S. If you live in Southern California and are reading this, let me know what your favorite neighborhood to live in is. Once June comes around, I’ll have to find a place to permanently settle. I’m currently living in Oceanside, head over heels in love with Encinitas, but I’m open to suggestions! 

PPS. Happy birthday, Cely!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 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.


Nine of Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, Colorado

Realization and recognition of success. An end to hardship or suffering. Luxury and refinement. Gracious living with appreciation for the arts and the finer things.” Steve Luca via Japaridze Tarot

That evening was the last where Selene, Caer, Sofia, Dmitri, and Nico would all be together in Nice. The following morning, Caer, Sofia, and Dmitri would make their way back to the States, while Nico would head back to Paris. Though Selene still wasn’t feeling at her best, she wouldn’t be able to live with herself if she didn’t spend at least one last time with her friends. They made their way to the Tramway and once they got off, they were en route to rue Chauvain for a restaurant called Le Boudoir. As they entered, their host walked towards them. To Selene’s disbelief, it was Tristán. “Tristán!” Selene exclaimed. “Great to see you.” Caer, Sofia, Dmitri and Nico all remained silent. “These must be your friends.” Tristán added. “Eek! I apologize about that. Yes, these are my friends. This is their last night in Nice so we thought we’d get something to eat to spend  some time together without the fuss and messiness of cooking.” Tristán chuckled. “Follow me.” 

Dmitri had called ahead of time and they were seated near one of the restaurant windows. Selene, Caer, and Sofia sat on a large leather upholstered seat against one of the restaurant walls. Across from them, Dmitri and Nico sat in purple cloth upholstered chairs. While the bunch ordered away with decadent meals, Selene opted for a small salad and some tea. Though she was feeling well  enough to be present with her friends, she didn’t want to jeopardize the moment by making adventurous food choices too soon. Tristán bid the crew farewell prior to his shift ending. They all talked, laughed, and reminisced on moments of a near and distant past. After the meal they headed back to the flat in preparation for departure.

The following morning, Selene  bid her friends farewell. “Thank you all for making your way out here. It’s been replenishing to reconnect and see you all again. I apologize for not being able to spend as much time as I wanted to spend with you all. If you feel the need to head to a more tropical destination and join me in Sri Lanka, please do not hesitate.” They all laughed. They hugged. They kissed. Then, they were gone. The silence their absence left in the apartment was slightly haunting. Though Selene had spent the days prior in silence, knowing that the days’ end promised their return was comforting. Today was different. She knew that not only was their lack of return guaranteed, but she didn’t know when their next reunion would occur – well, with the exception of the few days she was going to spend with Nico in Paris. Their communication would become a series of impersonal exchanges via phone applications, web teleconferencing, phone calls, and the occasional exchange of gifts for birthdays and major holidays.

Without much hesitation, Selene grabbed the apartment keys and made her way to Promenade du Paillon. As she walked through the 12 hectares and 1.2 km space, she admired the palm trees, the assorted greenery, the fountains, and the reflecting pool. Along the way, she stopped by a sculpture that resembled an opened horseshoe.  There were two friends sitting in the middle basking in the warmth of the sun. She made her way to a nearby cluster of trees and sat under a palm tree in the shade. After a few breaths of reprieve, she got up and continued to walk. Finally, she made it to the ocean side and stared out into the breeze. Shortly after, she felt a tap on her shoulder – Giuseppe.

In excitement, Selene jumped off her feet and hugged him. “Giuseppe! What a pleasant surprise. How is your brother?” With a sad expression in his eyes he responded, “I don’t think he’ll be with us for much longer, but he appears to be holding on. He has pancreatic cancer and the prognosis looks rather bleak. How are you, dear? I heard you weren’t feeling stellar.”  Selene nodded. “I’m sorry to hear it. Eh – you know, healing.”  Selene responded as she felt a chill up her spine. “Thank you, dear. So goes the cycle of life doesn’t it? One day you’re young and doe-eyed ready to take on the world. Crafting and scripting dreams on parchments only to realize that the ink runs out in the end and there’s not way to replenish it.” Giuseppe and Selene walked and continued to talk about the cycle of life and death that’s intricately woven into the human narrative. “Most of the time, these cycles occur in their metaphoric form. I’m sure you’ve experienced multiple – when you left graduate school, with the loss of a lover, illness, when you no longer click with friends, the change of jobs – metaphoric death riddles our existence. And I have an inkling that you know how necessary it is order for life to continue flourishing. What do you say we pay some proper gardens a visit? Selene nodded.

They boarded a bus route headed to the airport and got off on Boulevard René Cassin. Upon entering Parc Phoenix, they were greeted by a fork in the road – to the right hand, they had the museum of Asian arts and to the other a walkway around the lake. Giusepee headed towards the walkway and Selene followed. They didn’t walk very far when they stopped at the Fontaine musicale. As music played and Giuseppe told Selene about  the history of the park, her attention shifted to what appeared to be the statue of a woman. The statue stood tall amongst the beauty of the garden. The statue’s skin had a blue hue with beautifully lavished decorations, which blended with the orange sun- blue clouded sky in the background. Her garments were brightly colored, textured, and intense. Fuchsia and magenta silks were interwoven with pieces of light red tulle. Towards the front of the dress, a scene painted of the gardens with a night sky called to the attention of all those whom walked by. Throughout the skirt of the dress, there were flowers accentuating the beauty of the surrounding garden. There were red roses, white bell flowers, and pink carnations. She wore Sienna-brown shoes. At the top she was covered with an assortment of flowers and wing patters. On her right shoulder, there lay a flamingo who sat on a bright pink ball. In her hands, she held a mirror in the shape of a shell. Upon her head, there was a large headdress made of Japanese kimono silk and a large orange english tea rose. Suspended in the right air next to her, flew a monarch butterfly. Coming from the flowers in the her shoes, an olive green snake walked with pride – head lifted. “Selene? Are you still here, Selene?”

Selene looked away from the statue and up to Giuseppe. Giuseppe smiled and continued to talk about the hundred birds that lived near the lake, the Green Diamond greenhouse, the caimans, the iguanas, the exotic birds. They continued walking and made their way towards the Pyramides. In front of them, exposed, was the Grand Pré, serving as a stage to the Gran de Serre Diamant Vert, one of the largest greenhouses in Europe. Upon Selene’s eyes encountering the sight, she intensely asked Giuseppe, “Giuseppe, how come you never told me of Freya?”