Original post written on November 11, 2020.
It's the moment we've all been waiting for— the one we knew was bound to happen once I stopped trying to have everything prim, proper, and planned.
Anyone who really knows me, knows I don't actually plan the 'little' everyday things, probably annoyingly so, to those around me who prefer having very detailed and concrete plans. (Hah, don't believe me? Oh just ask my best gal-pal, Lady A, about that time we traveled to Vienna and didn't have a place to stay... I was in charge of one thing and one thing only, which was to get the Airbnb).
Postscript: It all worked out, and the Airbnb host ended up confirming the stay right before we arrived to the location. Also, with my most recent trip to Colombia... let's just say you'd all be so proud with my level of before-hand organization.
What is usual for me to have planned, though, are life's BIG plans, complete with the what, the where, and the when.
However, 2020, YOU GOT ME.
2020, you officially have made me cancel, rethink and defer any 'plans' I had once worked so hard to have proudly puzzle-pieced together. I no longer have any plans, which leaves me in the most perfect place. Meaning, I'm both attached to nowhere and everywhere, as well as in, more conceptually— a perfect place of mind to go and be the nomad I've always known myself capable of being.
The moment we've all be waiting for has finally arrived; the moment #wwshn decides to jet set around the world.
So, Where Will She Handstand Next?! Well readers, that's a very fine question you ask, a very fine one indeed. Right now all I can say is that neither I, nor you, yet know the answer to that Q... only life ahead knows, and soon we'll start catching up with time and will be out of this deep drought.
2021 started STRONG. I'm out of the drought that was 2020 (lacking in adventure yet so overwhelmingly FULL of thought and healing), and have definitely started catching up to what this life has in store. In the last two weeks alone, my calendar now has boxed off (approximate) dates for: teaching in Rwanda, dancing in Colombia, and returning to London.
I've avoided writing for awhile. I don't know about you, but when I write, my most authentic thoughts and feelings present themselves in such this objectified way. I've always written in times I feel I need to express something that I cannot yet verbally, or when I need to face my own truths. These last couple of months I haven't written. I haven't journal, nor have I blogged; I gave up social media for a good chunk of time. Through this time, though, I've been super in-tuned. Wait, back up— hold the phone. I've always been super in-tuned with myself and my soul, let's just get that out there. One could use the word 'spiritual' to describe me... but anyways. Throughout this time I've been super in-tuned, yet at the same time I blocked myself off. What my heart and soul were telling me was conflicting, and I wasn't quite ready to listen nor respond to either yet.
The heart needed to stay home to heal.
It was healing, though the process was long, dark and silent; something I couldn't comprehend even for myself until afterwards when I was able to reflect
The soul wanted an adventure. It needed new stimulation while the mind and body were stuck in this monotonous, yet very complex, time. The soul was locked and heavy, and needed to be set free again to fly.
Back in quarantine— sometime in either May in June— is when I decided to come home. In late march, I had been accepted into an extremely selective Masters program for Dance Science and Medicine. At that time, I had no intentions of ever coming home; not in summer, maybe for future holidays and to visit friends and family a couple of times a year, but that's it. Then, something changed.
Lockdown in London resurfaced a lot of things, including my silly little side-love for painting flower pots and wall murals, and inspired self reflection in a way I have never given myself the time to commit to before. I don't remember having a breaking point, per say, but that's not to say that some days and weeks weren't more difficult than others.
For years, friends, family, and even my partner at one time, had described my time-after-time decision to be abroad as "running away." The first couple of years that is actually exactly how it felt. I did everything in my own power to ensure I wasn't home. Even when I was, I made myself overwhelming busy. When abroad, I was always reluctant upon returning home for holidays, among several other times and events, and pushed away some friends and family... even my own best friend. I made it clear when I was home that I didn't want to be, and that it was challenging for me to be physically there. Also, when others did come to visit me while abroad, I don't think I was as welcoming as I know my heart was as happy to have them there, and made it a point to show them that I created my own life and community there.
Looking back, I regret all of this, and can finally see now that I was only denying myself from letting love in that could have been exceedingly bright. I denied myself this love for the sole reason of stubbornly trying to prove to myself, in addition to all of those who had previously questioned my ability, to 1. become a dancing doctor, and 2. prevent me from experiencing the world because of their own insecurities. But, I failed to realize then that the people coming to visit me— their friend— were definitely not the ones I had to prove anything to, and furthermore, that the people in life who made me feel defensive... they are not worth the worry.
Quarantine reflections brought up deep childhood grudges that I didn't realize, until then, were still holding me back in subconscious ways. These grudges are ones, though, that could only be overcome through finding peace with the past situations within myself.
This is all just a little glimpse of some of the thoughts that surfaced during quarantine... ohhhh what a living helllll of a week that was!!!
I know I originally said that I knew I was running, but sometime along my journey to independence I stopped; I started walking. I turned some corners, had some realizations, and instead decided to chase... I began chasing my dreams and ambitions only for myself— not to prove anything to anyone, not even to myself. I began chasing these dreams so fast and furious because there was no other option in my eyes (actually, I chased with the heart and then the head followed).
When you see a light— when it pulls with such a heated attraction, so hot and so strong— you follow it.
This heated chase I speak of it, it was in full-fledged motion until Covid struck, slowed down the pace, and made me question some past processes. My heart pulled me home. I knew then, that in order to one day pick back up the momentum I had found, I needed to first return home to heal these deep wounds-- to at least lighten the scars-- and that I needed to stay until it finally felt like "home" again. "Home," a word that for so long I had lost my connection with.
In a few days, it will be almost exactly 5 months since I relocated back to Rhode Island after 4 years of living in New York, Paris and London; after 4 years of discovering myself, for myself.
Now in January, it blows my mind to say that I've been home for nearly 7 months already...
4 years + 5 months later, and I am so happy to finally say that home feels like home once again <3
In the last 5 months home, I've worked to rekindle some relationships. Some, I flew home knowing I had to rekindle and reimagine, like the ones with both of my parents (in different ways) as well as my lifelong bff, LC the Llama. Others came in unexpectedly hot, and morphed from something old into something new and extremely beautiful. I let some toxic ones go; cut it off; shut it downnn. I also did the work to enable myself to finally let go of those old meanie grudges that I subconsciously let affect my decisions for far too long.
Most importantly, I've finally let myself again see all of the beauty and love that Rhode Island has to offer that I once knew it to.
An Instagram post from 2018: "Home is... where there's a sea-side coffeeshop with açai bowls and cinnamon soy lattés open from sunrise to sunset, where my car is, where the Tuesday night tumbling classes happen, where ballet means a black leo & pink tights, where s p o n t a n e i t y is endlessly present, where "what do you want for dinner?" actually means "where do you want to order food from?" & ultimately where friends inspire handstands... <3 #heartsofull
Moving along swiftly...
Once, while down in Alabama representing RI as it's 2016 Distinguished Young Woman, I met a man who had found me amongst a crowd of 50 other state representatives, to tell me that, "although Rhode Island may be the smallest state, it has the biggest heart." These words are something I vowed to myself to always remember and to always hold dear.
Here in RI, it's quite a joke around here that people never leave, or at least always return. We joke because it never fails to be true...
We don't mean it in a provincial way, however, what we mean to say is that:
Here in Rhode Island, we are the lucky ones to truly experience all four seasons in a year. We have our capital, Providence, which is a small yet prestigious city, containing top Ivy League schools as well as astounding art schools. We are only a 45-minute drive (unless one foolishly decides to hit the roads @rush hour) from Boston, and a mere 3-hour drive from 'the big apple' New York City. We have some dreamy sea towns (we are, after all, considered "the ocean state"); rural farmlands; suburbs; excellent schools systems; and another mere 3-hour drive from our nation's northern bliss, for when skii season rolls around.
We truly have it all.
Rhode Island, again, is home to Providence, which is one of the few sanctuary cities we have here in the US. Craving great Italian, Spanish, Mexican, Colombian, or Portuguese cuisine (along many others)?! Well we got it here, folks!! Everyone from Rhode Island has some sort of immigrant lineage or native descent, which I find incredibly beautiful.
Quickly, on the topic of ancestry and heritage, this is why I always find it so weird, whenever abroad, I have to identify myself with being "American." Here, in Rhode Island, we identify with our lineage. For example, growing up in school or when meeting others about, it's very common to ask, "where are you from?" Sometimes, yes, this does mean, "have you always lived here in RI?" However, more commonly it means, "where does your family tree geographically root from?"
I most often identify, when asked, as Portuguese and French (mixed European), but it wasn't until living abroad that I learned what it means to identify as "American," and how I feel about it. There, I had a greater sense of responsibility for everything broadcasted from the United States. It's easy, I've found at least, when we are physically in the US to detach ourselves with anything that doesn't affect us personally, i.e. happens in another state. But while abroad, there is absolutely no separation between the time and place of events in terms of states, regions, ethnic divides, etc. Every event that happens on US soil becomes associated with the nation as a whole.
This is why I'm probably highly critical of the US-- whether the news be dear to our own New England, or stretching 2,902 miles west-- not because I don't care, but quite rather the opposite... it all hits; it all strikes the heart. At a distance, it's easier to see and to feel the impact that each event has on America as one whole, united entity of states and its outlying territories, and even greater more— the effect these events then have on the world. #rippleeffect
Wow, I just strayed so off topic. Anyways my dear readers, hey! How are you all?
Reeling us back to the blog...
Wow, it feels so good to write again. It's freeing :)
Oh! I have a Q for YOU!!
What makes you feel free??
You know I love when people share their thoughts, comments, or their responses to anything I may have said that may sparked something inside. Please please always, always, ALWAYS feel free to share absolutely anything with me!
Sometimes, I agree, it seems a little scary to share (hello vulnerability), so if you ever want to write something and send it my way... or maybe not even send it at all, but I definitely always recommend sharing #sharingiscaring. (As open as my mouth always is in sharing, my ears are always open wider). Even if it's just sharing a thought to yourself and processing it through your own writing or moving or painting... I know it sometimes feels like a big, brave thing to do, but I promise it usually always feels better and lighter after :)
Also, I don't bite. OK, guilty, I may have gone through a biting phase as a child, but I learned that lesson years ago ;)
Thank you for reading my words, and for being part of this life's journey.
Sending out loads of love and light<3
Elyssa, AKA "Clementine"
PS- OMG PLEASE share your stage names / incognito / alter-ego names with me (only if you want to)... I LOVE hearing people's names that they feel portrays themselves in another light...
So, I've recently deleted the Instagram app off of my phone, and I'm already pretty sure it's the best thing I've done for my mental health all summer.
Last week was a big week for me. I stopped drinking coffee (I KNOW WHO AM I), and deleted all social media apps off of my phone. Well, with the exception of Pinterest, because at least for me, that is one social media app that is helpful and inspirational, in terms of productivity.
A quick note on the coffee. So basically, I realized that I am extremely dependent of coffee; it's my go-to. Anytime I feel I need more energy, anytime that I feel good, anytime I don't feel so good and need to add a little bounce to my step, and all of the times of the day in between— I run to coffee. For years I've drank coffee in this way (probably drink it more than actual water), but lately I've been in this little mental fog and it 's time it clears up a bit.
For those of you who just read that and thought: umm, Elyssa, will you even be Elyssa without coffee? Umm, the answer is yes and no. Don't worry, I'm pretty sure this is only a little hiatus and a temporary thing. Also, I haven't completely strayed away from caffeine. Instead of drinking 2-3 cups of coffee a day, I now drink about 3 cups of black tea and a cup of camomile before sleeping. So, I actually don't know what is worse, because my caffeine intake is much higher but the jitters and fog have lifted. Also, I treated myself this past Sunday to a coffee from a local coffee shoppe as a treat for having self control all week (a new concept for me), and ohhh let me tell you! I'm pretty sure I orgasmed at the first smell. Oh, and I definitely orgasmed at the first sip. Coffee just melts me in ways no man ever will ;)
Instagram. Yeah, you read those first few sentences right. I DELETED INSTAGRAM.
BECAUSE I'M OVER IT
AND GUESS WHAT
Deleting Instagram has truly been life-changing. I know, I know. That sounds both cheesy and dramatic, especially for something that's as 'small' as deleting an app off of a home screen. Well, FYI incase you haven't yet noticed— I'm both cheesy and dramatic.
I didn't plan this. I didn't wake up one day and say I was going to delete all media on Monday AM, nor did I plan on randomly canceling out coffee. Instead, Pinterest planned it for me. One of those funky days last week while sitting on the couch, after switching to pinterest when I got bored of scrolling through instagram, and while simultaneous to waiting for a commercial to end on a hulu show, I came across this quote that really hit. It hit so hard that it instantaneously made me put down my phone, and finally say "I've had enough." I had enough of my funk. I had enough of knowing what everyone else on the web was doing in the moment. I had enough of aimlessly scrolling just because it was convenient and I could flip my brain off. I had enough of passing time without being productive. I had enough of being addicted to this device.
I simply had enough, and Pinterest knew it.
This is the quote I found that shifted everything, and brought me back to life.
I wish I knew who to quote for that one. Isn't it gooood?!
There's also this one. After pinning the last one to my "words to remember" board, this one popped up, and was the real cherry on top. It was like that last wave that knocks you down in the ocean after being knocked down by the first couple in the set, but this is the one you give in to, and decide afterwards to get out of the water for a few minutes to regroup.
These two quotes combined were more than words, they moved me...
... they moved me all of the way up and off of the couch... all of the way to a barstool about 15 feet away at the the kitchen island...
(Clearly it didn't have that huge an effect on me— it didn't make me decide to start running again or anything like that— but it did have an internal effect. A mental one; a gut one).
It wasn't purely these two quotes that prompted me to hit that "trash" button after hovering over the Instagram app, it was a few things. I'll list them here. Well, it would be a lie if I said there were only cons to keeping the app, because that's so not true. For months I've debated with myself whether I want to keep the app or not, because I know there's some pros, too.
So here's both.
(bear with me)
Pros (purple). Cons (green). Links (blue).
○ Instagram as a platform to share and spread awareness. It's a platform that is very popular among generation, and one through which visual information can so quickly be shared. In the last few months especially, Instagram has served as a sort of portal of information. It is a place to share raw opinions, perspectives and analytical views. It's a place to spread information on not only what is going on the the world, but links ways to take an active part and lend a hand. I felt that if I deleted Instagram, I would be out of the loop on a bunch of big things happening around me. I felt I would lose this platform which has lead me to further research and widen my perspective.
In rebuttal, yes, it is a platform by all means, however, it would be extremely lazy of me to keep using the excuse that I would be 'out of the loop' if I deleted Instagram. Yes, it is so nice to hear about news from my own generation, but it's certainly not the only way. Some alternative solutions to making sure we are caught up to date, are:
CNN's 5 Things daily newsletter. 5 top headlines a day, with short paragraphs about each one, with additional links for further information. I subscribed to this years ago, and used to read the email during my lunch break at school everyday, or while sitting and stretching, waiting for class to start.
Daily Skimm. This is something I was recommend to subscribe to during my days of preparing to compete for the Distinguished Young Woman of America (oh yeah, fun fact! I was once the Distinguished Young Woman of Rhode Island! Yes, that's a thing. No, it's not a pageant). It uses humor to lay it all out. It covers world news, money, well, picks, COVID-19, and the 2020 Election (from a non-partisan stand). Fun fact, they also have a a couple podcasts!
○ Instagram as a platform to meet new artists. In terms of collaboration, Instagram is a great platform because once again, it's designed to share. It's so easy to click on somebody who is tagged in another's post, to credit artists, to share artists' work... it's truly never been easier. On Instagram I've been able to find dance artists I would LOVE to work with one day. It's also the place I discovered my dream NGO who soon I will be starting to work with and travel for! Instagram has also made the world seem smaller and less intimidating...
This I actually don't have a rebuttal for. It's truly a great platform to discover artists and share their work.
○ Instagram as a platform to keep up with friends and old colleagues. Recently I deleted Facebook because I realized it wasn't for me. It was filled with my mom's generation of friends posting about their lives, etc. As mentioned above, though, Instagram is probably the most popular social media site for my generation. It's where all of my friends post about their whereabouts; newest ambitions, endeavors and achievements; and (so cliché, get ready) where they're having brunch (I know, that one was low for me). Instagram allows us to keep 'in touch' with people we maybe once knew, maybe met a couple of times, or 'close friends' we can share funny IG stories with. Great.
I'm going to use a mini-story as my rebuttal. The story speaks for itself...
A few weeks ago, after returning home from a week away in Cape Cod, my dog sprained her back left ankle. For those of you who don't already know our sweet Maple (not just a stage name for the blog— all my animal's names are all original), she's a 13 year old golden retriever. Yeah, she's a little granny dog now. Well, she was feeling really good the day we went to pick her up from our cousins, and decided she wanted to get down with the younger dogs... that is.. until getting down literally took her down. Oh but don't worry, she's already all healed up since then :) She truly lived her best life as a queen for a couple of weeks with my mom and I playing her servants, carrying her all around from indoors to outdoors to pee, learning to chef so she could feast only as a true bougie dog would, and getting our 24/7 attention. And I mean 24/7. No sleep for the wicked. Yeah, when I said our little attention-loving pup thrived, she thrived, and here's some photographic evidence, even though our Maplequeen looks extremely #unimpressed by our efforts.
Anyways, my mom and I were sitting down on the couch, debating whether to bring Maple to the vet in the morning, when I randomly started to share that XYZ's dog also has a sprained ankle, but it's her front right paw. XYZ is literally just some girl who is a few years older than me, and I used to watch at dance competitions growing up. I doubt she know me, we've never talked, and I don't think we ever would even if we were in the same space again. I've just always followed her on IG since we used to compete, and apparently still do. Well, she lives in Manhattan, and according to her IG stories, went away for some time with another dance friend to Long Island to beach it. When she returned, her little pup sprained his ankle! Oh no! But she had it wrapped up and was snuggling him and catering to him just like we were with out Maple.
Cute story, right?! Wrong! WHY the heck do I even know this much about this girl and her whereabouts and her dog's sprained front right paw that I've never even talked to before!?!?
IDK, YOU TELL ME.
I went on an unfollowing spree after this, because as soon as the story left my mouth and my mom questioned why I knew so much, I realized it's just fed to me. I know it because I aimlessly scroll through Instagram, and pass story after story like this one.
Now, there are a few other reasons that drove me away from Instagram, like FOMO (also a new concept for me), or being made to feel unproductive by constantly consuming other's public productivity, which I know I also could be found guilty.
I found myself posting, without knowing why. Forever I've been confused by how I personally want to use Instagram's platform. Yes, I'm an artist, but I don't feel like my art is anything special or different, in which it needs to be shared. I love seeing others' shared news stories, but I don't know enough to post any of my own; I only share others'. I blog, yes that is indeed what you are reading now, but I'm not an Instagram blogger by any means. I'm not consistent, and also that's not my aim.
Once, during my senior year of high school, I posted everyday on Instagram. I originally started doing so to savour home, because I planned on darting off across seas as soon as I was set free. That, was my favorite time I've ever used Instagram. Posting everyday made me consider the small things, and romanticize for myself the mundane. It was the most real-life Instagram had ever felt for me, and likewise was the most real representation of me it had ever been. I didn't post for likes, nor care how many I got. I responded to comments, but didn't need them as affirmation or validation for what I was doing / posting about. It was purely for me.
That documentation is why I will never fully deactivate my account (because I don't want to lose the last 7 years worth of documentation of single moments in time), but I am going forward in deleting the app off of my phone. It's a promise to myself to be more productive in my days; to consume nobody else's daily stories, but rather to focus on my own.
After being moved and heavily influenced by those two quotes above, I decided that it's time to live MY life again. It's time to be all consumed by MY days, by MY conversations with friends over Monday morning brunch (because brunching on Sunday doesn't make us feel like midlife moms who brunch on Mondays and chat over mimosas), and be interested again in what I'm truly interested in and not by what Instagram is suggesting I should be.
Since deleting Instagram, a few things have happened that wouldn't have otherwise, had I continued to feed myself with others' content.
Before deleting the app, I made a little chart to objectify what I was interested in. Knowing me, you can bet it looked a little chaotic because after all, I am Elyssa, and my mind always has three thoughts going at once. (My old flatmate used to say that living with me was like living with me, and the 15 people in my head). (Hah, not concerning at all). After deleting the app, I again sat down and made a another chart. Perhaps it was already because I made a chaotic one the first time around that I was able to clarify the second. Or, perhaps it was because I only had my heart to listen to, and not the influence of everybody else's influence feeding my brain.
The sketch went from an original clutter of webs, to three single lines with three simple goals, which included: learning to fly a helicopter, working both in the field and on the board for United Nations (in which I'll be flying my own helicopter to the sites, you know, dreaming big), and dancing—sharing my passion through teaching, creating, hosting a flashmob and all that jazz.
Since deleting Instagram, I've applied (once again) to a dreamy Masters program in Australia that starts in February. I've been procrastinating this since the beginning of July when apps opened up, because I lost the confidence in myself to do so. Here, I'll learn how to fight for human rights, while also learning how to fly!!! I've also since then committed to traveling with MindLeaps for one month this fall to North Macedonia, where we will strive to bridge underserved youth together through dance, when everything else in life may be barricading, including native language.
Also hello, not to mention the drastic drop in screen time. LOL I think I was approaching about 5 to 5.5 hours a day on my phone, and now my screen time is back down to under two hours (not including the additional hours I've piled up since starting Killing Eve)...
Sooooo, this is my story for deleting Instagram-- one social media platform-- off of my phone. This is my story about how detaching myself from the rest of the world helped me to focus on, well, you guessed it... myself.
My confidence in myself is slowly returning, as well as my patience and productivity. I've strayed back away from relying on the instant gratification I used to receive via Instagram to validate how 'cool' what I am doing is. I know I'm cool ;)
I am posting this, knowing that it is extremely subjective to my own experience with Instagram. However, I am also posting this knowing that no one ever talks about it being 'okay' to take a break from social media every once in a while in order to regroup and refocus.
So, this is me telling you that it's okay. You do you, and that means whatever it has to to you, and that's what's important.
Take the time, take the care, and do what you need to do to find what makes you glow on the inside :) because the world needs you and your glow :)
Currently, it's 10:25 pm in North Truro, Massachusetts, and I am one thought-filled, grateful, wonderstruck, and present Elyssa.
For reference on my location, every year my 'family' (me, my mom, LC and her family, and other family friends) all gather together at a beach house for one week-- Saturday to Saturday.
Yes, we all live in Rhode Island, the 'ocean state' and practically spend our whole summers at the beach anyways, but the spread out summer never compares to the week long adventures of carefree living all together under one roof. Living all together 24/7 definitely has its challenges, especially when combined we house every political party, non-political party, opinion, sexuality (me, that's me, I personally make up for anything other than hetero), personality type (I'm a campaigner and my mom is a consul), morning people / night owls / both, ages, food restrictions and allergies, and the list goes on. However, every year we continue to somehow, just somehow make it work.
This year, we decided to leave little Rhodey (wooahhh), crossed 3 hours over the state border (yes, don't worry, we all tested negative this week for COVID before our grand departure), and ventured over to the Cape for a week.
Originally, I started this blog post by diving right into the night's events and realizations. However, just now I briefly took a moment to scroll up through my photos from today, and decided that this post deserves to begin from its truest beginning—last night— because today, well, today has just been a day.
This is the first photo in my camera roll from today, and I'm just going to drop this here.
This photo was taken after my mom shut the car's trunk door on my head this morning while packing the car, which, could have been prevented if I got my shit together and packed last night. However... my shit was definitely not together. It was totally, completely, and very literally in fact not together.
My original plan yesterday was to come home from work and finish packing, but, hah, that plan was sharply interrupted the moment I decided to have dairy at work, and had to pass off my shift to somebody else so I could go home and shit everything internal, out. Like I said, my shit was definitely not together.
...TMI? No such thing.
Also, I'm going to take this moment to put it out there and mention that yes, I am still very much allergic to roses. Last night, by the time my body allowed me to finally get up and figuratively get my shit together, I decided that my first action should be to shower, because typically, showers are game-changing. A little rejuvenation goes a long way, and it was something I hoped would ultimately speed the packing process up.
After the shower, I was so excited to try out this new facial toner I bought the other day at Trader Joe's, and went a little spray crazy... my next big mistake of the night. Clearly, I have selective reading as I do listening, and misread "rose" for "rose hip," which are very different and have very different effects on my body.
This probably takes us to about 11 pm now, which was around the time I rediscovered that yes, I am very much indeed still allergic to roses. Very much indeed. The swelling was instantaneous, as were the tingles. TIGNLY SENSATION!
This is also about the time when I gave up the thought that the packing was going to happen last night, and instead popped some tylenol, set my alarm and went to bed. It's also when I decided that it's time to start listening again to my body, feed it foods that it is able to process and digest, and stop compromising myself and allergies. This is also why our neighbors heard me scream "OUW" when I dropped to the ground when the trunk door found my head... like I said, this allllll could have been prevented if I just found some self control and refused the gosh darn dairy. But, moving on.
Okay, now I think it's time to skip back ahead. Nothing significant really happened during the day that I feel like noting here, other than driving 3 hours to the Cape, stopping halfway at The Flying Bridge Seafood— a waterfront seafood restaurant— for lunch in Falmouth (FYI: very fabulous and very delicious), and stopping at a liquor store (the one thing I was responsible to buy this week besides my own veggie food was margarita mix, and what did I forget? you guessed it. the margarita mix) where I invested in my first shaker. Exciting!
In a later post, I will further explain the depths of this bar, along with the drinking games we play throughout the week. Remember how I briefly mentioned we are all very different, with different personalities and opinions? Well, sometimes we clash, and those times that we do, we make drinking games out of them, with daily prompts... another post for another day.
Every year we spend our nights down here outside under the stars; drinking, smoking cigars, trying some gummies (we're in Massachusetts so I can legally write this), conversing, joking on each other and laughing, before taking the night indoors for a game of choice. Tonight, I opted out of the games and instead planted my bug-bitten bootay on this couch (with my mom now sleeping on my lap), to write this next portion of the post. Staring up into the night tonight left me wonderstruck, and with so many little threads of thought.
Stars have always reminded me of people. How, there are so many people surrounding our life. One day they appear, maybe stay for awhile, and then they carry on again on their own way. How, until we form a connection with them, they are strangers to us. They are always there, whether we notice them or not. How, they're also not there whether we notice them or not because perception is subjective, and each star has its own path and journey.
When I was younger, my mom always used to hold me and point out the North Star. She tried explaining to me how we're all sort of united under it, and that no matter where we physically are in the world, it is something we can all look up and see; it's one of the universe's constant promises for us. I never really understood what she meant by that, at least not until tonight when I looked up into the night sky and saw my past, my present and future among the stars.
In London, whenever we would go up onto our roof, where we would sing until the dusk faded and into night, we would point to stars and determine amongst ourselves what planet it might be, as it was too bright to be an ordinary star. Sometimes, after several weeks would pass between roof dates, this conversation turned into deciding whether it was the same star / planet, or whether it was another one that shifted into its place. To see that star, we had to look out, but if we looked up, no matter the month, week, night or day, we were always always always located directly under the big dipper constellation.
I continuously processed this reminder as simply knowing that we were sat under the big dipper constellation in the sky, but it never had any other sort of significant meaning... until I left, almost two months passed by, and until I noticed the very same constellation in the sky, 3,266 miles away from where I saw it last. Tonight the big dipper was located up above and to my left. It was in this moment that I suddenly understood what my mom had been trying to explain to me all along.
This time around, I didn't just see the big dipper; I saw London. I knew that under that those stars to my left, was our little lovely Malden Crescent house, near little lovely Chalk Farm station, in the not so little but extremely lively & lovely London. Before seeing the dipper, I had noticed a significantly bright star to my right, and once I connected myself to the dipper, I realized that the star was the same one that we used to sit on our little rooftop in London and wonder what planet it might be.
Never before have I been one to comprehend directions really well. Physically, yes, all it only takes is being somewhere once to know exactly where I am and how to navigate myself afterwards, but cardinally, no. But tonight, I knew exactly where I was (literally, not figuratively); Europe is due EAST, land-America is due WEST, and that star pointed me NORTH.
Looking back up at the sky, I felt myself in relation to the world. I knew where to look to find the stars my friends were somewhere under. I knew where to look to find the stars that were lighting up the sky over the place I dream to be next. I noticed the stars I lay under under here with my root people. I felt this intense connection to the sky, while also feeling completely lost.
Several times, shooting stars passed us by up in the sky. Some were quick flashes, while some we could follow for a few moments until they disappeared among the rest of the still, shining stars. At some point, someone told us to wish, but I realized I couldn't. I'm at this strange place in life where I'm someplace I once wished to be, and now don't know what's next. I know I can't wish for any one person or group of people, because right now we're all on different journeys for ourselves. This time has also been useful for practicing good habits for myself, ones which bring joy and satisfaction without relying on others.
Looking up at the stars suddenly brought to mind my own map of human lights in my life, and I flashed back through people who have come in and faded out. I thought back to them, and about the times at which we entered each others' lives and the significance and impact we each had on each other.
People pass through life at such precious moments in time, for always uncertain amounts of time until later certain. Even then, the time can always be resumed, and paths can cross again.
Some people in our lives, like stars in the sky, have stronger lights and greater influences depending on the time the enter, and the purpose they served. Some, on the other hand, their purpose is irrelevant, but their ever constant presence is what we know. Those are our root people, those are the ones who, though endless time can pass by without physically seeing each other, we know where they are always, and that they will always be there. We are also that star for them. Some, we may be that star without knowing it. Sometimes, too, we are a stronger light than we know ourselves to be.
Personally, I feel fortunate to know my lights. I feel fortunate to know I have also been a light before for someone; oh what an illuminating feeling. I feel fortunate to know whose light, when close to me, only adds strength to mine and together, our lights become one aura; a rather radiant, unbreakable one.
Some people call it love.
Soo, I don't know about you, but I plan on living until I'm 103 years old, in order to be the woman of three centuries, of course. Right now, at the mere age of 22 (and a half, if you counts halves), I have absolutely no idea where I'm heading next. I do not know who is going to come in and out of my life, nor whose lives I am going to ever so graciously flow in and out of. Looking to the future, not knowing who will come in and out next scares me. However, I do trust in everyone who is apart of my life now, and who has been a part of molding me into who I am today. To be utterly honest, I'm not yet ready to move on from the people who lived with me under that great big dipper.
I think I'm holding on...
In the last two months, I've turned down a couple of dates, and have avoided getting to know new people on a deeper level than I could. I have though, taken this opportunity to rebuild and strengthen the friendships I have here at home, which has been so extremely heartwarming and reassuring.
Looking up at the shooting stars last night, I didn't wish for any one person, place or thing, nor did I wish to be anywhere I wasn't, with anyone I wasn't already with.
I wished, though, to remember. I wished to be filled with gratitude, and to be open to this transition time.
I wished to trust.
I remembered the people I used to live with under the that great big dipper; they're some of my favourites ever. I remembered the times I dreamed to be where I am today, figuratively. I remembered where I was last year at this time, literally, and the thoughts and fears that flooded my mind then when I looked up into the stars. I remembered how much can change in one year's time.
I remembered to be curious, and I remembered to be brave. Above all, though, I remembered to be kind, and that with genuine kindness comes strength.
Lastly, I remembered a list, which has been tacked above my bedpost since I wrote it, that I made in January as a visual, tangible, objectified reminder of what my heart desired at that point in time. It reads,
Tonight, I looked up at the sky and trusted that with time I will understand what that list means, as I have come to grasp that it is not very literal, but really quite metaphorical. 8 months into 2020, and I've found the AUS, the PERSPECTIVE, and the PASSION. COLOR is only now beginning to reveal itself slowly, but as for PARIS... I have no idea yet what that could mean, and what I need to find.
Lastly, I remembered that everything is temporary, and that's a good thing! We have choices, especially in choosing whose lights we let shine brightest. We are all just bodies inhabiting this wild, wild earth, which is a part of a much larger universe. Sometimes, we can remember that and learn to take life a little less seriously.
Monday, 06 July 2020.
Well I guess I should start this post by explaining the "germaphobe" part of the title, because I'm not really sure that anyone who has met me over the last three years knows that side of me.
It's true! I used to be a germaphobe! Big time, too. Actually, just yesterday morning I OPENED A COFFEE SHOPPE DOOR and held it for My Other E, who was simultaneously so shocked and impressed that she took a moment and just stared. Hah usually, it's the other way around— I stop and stare until she opens the door for me. Sometimes she will even stare back at me, but I never give in. Overcoming my disgust for public spaces is something I've silently been working on over the last four years, having lived in multiple major cities, i.e. New York City, Paris and London.
Now, I know that everyone experiences germaphobia in their own ways. The ways that I used to experience it was:
& THE LIST GOES ON, however I will stop here for now. I am also highly OCD, which is something I have also silently been working on overcoming, so this naturally plays a part in some of the things above, as well. Hehehe, but don't get "OCD" confused with organized or scheduled, because I am neither of those things, and those who have either traveled with me or live with me surely know that. Let's just say, in terms of life, I prefer to always "play it by ear."
Now that that's sorted, let's get to the real reason you're reading this post— you want to know what it's like to fly internationally during a global pandemic.
So, and I say this so honestly... IT WAS AMAZING. I wish I could always fly through a pandemic (minus the pandemic). Since most borders are closed except to nationals, in addition to it currently not being advised to travel for leisure, most airports and airplanes are empty. Not literally, but almost.
On my international flight from London to Boston, there were approximately 23 people. And, from the international airport that day, there were only— in total— less than one page of departures. Since international flights right now can only fly into a limited number of cities in the US, more than half of those people on my flight were transferring at Boston. Never before have I exited a plane's terminal, found and hauled my luggages off of the conveyor belt, and made it through customs in under ten minutes. Alright, you got me. It took me about ten minutes to figure out how to maneuver three suitcases, a backpack and a tote bag all by myself (this was the 'big move' from abroad), but figuring out that maneuver probably took longer than the two layers of customs combined.
Let's backtrack now, and talk 'flight': The flight was the best part. One of the biggest effects that germaphobia had on my life, pre-conservatoire training, was that I didn't enjoy being within a close proximity to a bunch people. I was never a great hugger (but now love them), backed up when people talked too close to me, and dreaded sitting next to humans I didn't already know on a flight for many hours. It just made me so uncomfortable. I am definitely not claustrophobic with small spaces, but I am when it's people that are surrounding me. So, this flight with less than 30 people on it, completely spread out through the plane, was SO IDEAL.
With a sparse amount of passengers comes oh so great service, may I just add. Let's put this into a little perspective: there were so few of us, that instead of trying to push a cart full of food and drinks up and down the scrunched aisles of an aircraft, the flight attendants casually walked up and down, back and forth, with trays topped with glasses of wine and orange juice (multiple times) for all of the passengers. You better bet I helped myself.
Yes, now I'm going to answer the question you haven't yet asked, but really desperately want to know, whether or not I wore my mask the entire flight. Yes, I did (with the only exception of drinking those glasses of wine and orange juice). To be honest, I am not so sure if my fellow fliers wore their masks throughout the duration of flight, but that's not because I didn't check— it's because the next closest seated- passengers were ROWS both in front and behind me. Also, I don't know bout you, but I for sure have been hyper- aware throughout this quarantine of having to cough or sneeze in public, and every time desperately fight the urge and hold it in. So, another perk— no sneezing, coughing, hacking or crying neighbors (that's me, guilty, I'm that that person who sobs all-flight-long because, thousands of feet in the air, everything little thing makes me emotional okayyy).
Upon boarding, every passenger was given a 'personal safety kit' that came with sanitizers, wipes, etc. Really, anything you could need at anytime during those seven hours on board.
Before boarding, there were multiple tables filled along the hallways where people sat handing out extra masks and personal safety kits, you know, just incase somebody somehow made it by the previous mask-check at check-in, again at security, and at all of the other stations along the way without one. #safteyfirst
Like I said, this journey back has been the safest I have ever felt flying. Honestly, it was my ideal flight. Wearing a mask in the bathroom protected me against the fecal bacteria via toilet plumes, there was room to spread out across the row / didn't have to worry about reclining into somebody's sleepy head behind me, unlimited wine and orange juice served to me on a tray, disinfected everything everywhere, no hacking humans on a plane... I cannot iterate IDEAL CONDITIONS enough (again, minus the whole pandemic thing). Also, it was the first time I have
truly ever felt cleaner walking off of a plane than walking on...
Lastly, the airport. Despite no food stores being open to eat while waiting to board, I had the airport almost all to myself, which meant that I was free to get up and dance, to stretch, and to do the thing Elyssa does best-- handstand! I mean, don't get me wrong, I usually do these things anyways while waiting to board (when I'm not phoning in a friend to calm my ridiculously sobbing self—uhh, did I mention that I never sleep the night before flying? No? Well, that's why my emotions are always extra high by the time I finally reach the plane's gate), however this time I didn't have to worry about onlookers. I could cry, dance and handstand all for myself.
Author's footnote: I am not a medical professional, and this entry is in no way me advising anyone to travel internationally during this time. For specific reasons pertaining to graduation, student housing and a VISA, I chose to move out during this time. Please stay aware of COVID-19 updates, and be respectful. (Wear that mask and wash those hands). Thank you
Sunday, 14th June 2020.
Let me begin with stating that I may still be a little tipsy right now writing this, so if anything is overly sentimental— well, now you know why. I woke up about an hour ago, but only went to bed maybe 4 hours ago, so, well, here we go with this blog story.
Last night was a good one. I’m too much of an over-thinker to ever use the word ‘perfect’ (if you know me, then you know I neither believe in perfect nor ever try to strive for it), but, in a way it was, and I woke up an hour ago with a full heart, a full belly from that Full Veggie English that my fabulous sous-chef and I cheffed' up at 5 AM for everybody post-Primrose (as promised), and in total grief.
I’ve been telling myself and everyone around me who asks, that “I’m saving the feelings for the plane,” but I woke up this morning with lots of them. Too many for myself to handle. I think the moment the feelings started to trickle in for the first time was when I sat down next to SpicyFriend at the top of the hill to take in the moment that was: the sun slowly rising from behind the trees, glistening over the city landscape; above our dancing friends in the field below. These are my people, and I’m so sad to leave them.
Friday night, over a cup of midnight tea in the kitchen— where all of our best chats happen-- Dandylion shared with me a german phrase in response to my shared thoughts. The phrase has no direct English translation, yet is still so very beautiful. Man sell gene went es am schönsten ist, which means leaving when things are good; leaving with nothing but fond memories. This is definitely not to say that London hasn't presented me with many challenges these last three years, because oh believe me it has, but all ones I've been able to grow through with support from the most loving humans. I am leaving, with so much love for London, its people, and my time here. My case here is strengthened by the fact that I am saying all of this, despite living my last few months in London, having spent our last two UG performance-based terms online x global pandemic x revolution. That's how much I love this little London life I have here— it is a love that withstands times of change. That's why I have so much trust in 'my great return' one day, and that's how I know that these people are forever; that this time will have a forever place in all of our hearts as it does mine.
Anyways, back to last night.
Last night was like a dream. Maybe that’s because I recall it both in pieces and in phases, which is probably due to how unexplainable everything was but oh-how-right everything felt to do in the moment. For one very prime example, I hatched Madam Bowie while doing an Ostrich dance (sometime before or after our Swan Lake debut).
Last night we lived from the heart with no explantations. E.g. hah, try to explain this one:
In the weeks leading up to this time, our house has been playing “divorced parents,” and early-on invited our friend Dandylion to stay over for the weekends, as he is otherwise quarantined alone. Throughout this time in quarantine, we've separated our weekends from the weeks by planning them out with themed dinners and whatnot. So, we wanted one last night of playing dress-up, doing our makeup all fancy, and slaying the night away. This weekend though, the only theme we came up with was to be present with each other, and to live our best lives; it was to be a culmination of everything we had learned from our time in quarantine, while also making one last memory.
So naturally, we started the night with some glam.
And also very naturally, we started the night with games while we waited for our quite fashionably-late friends to join.
Sidenote: they were indeed very fashionable, and all of our jaws dropped upon first-sight, at the new LOOKS they were serving as they strutted through that famously red door.
Waiting for our friends, we started with one of our household favourites.
However, once our v. fashionable friends made it to the party, we stepped the games up a notch. Before, when it was just me, Lady A, Dandylion and Madam Bowie, the 'competitives' were overpopulated by the 'playing-for-funsies.' HOWEVER, once miss SpicyFriend and J. Fada Mística do Sol (let's go with J.Fada for short) arrived, the COMPETITIVES TOOK THE HOUSE! A couple of rounds of "Most Likely To" and Charades later, and the heat was on!
By the way, it's always so interesting to see what your friends— who lived through a quarantine with you and know you best— think you are the most or least "likely to." Apparently, I'm the most likely to leave my wallet in a store, marry somebody my family disapproves of, not share my opinion, be / marry a stripper, and catch feelings after a one-night stand.
BUT, the game that REALLY did us all in (of course after taking a post-charades toast&jam, coffee and water break), was "Ring of Fire," and OH HOT DAMN! What a game... you know, still I don't really remember what card number and symbol signified exactly what action, however, I do remember drinking... a lot... because somehow— just somehow— every single time that those cards told SpicyFriend to drink, we all had to drink. And every time that Madam Bowie had to drink, Spicy had to drink, so therefore we all, once again, had. to. drink. Like I said, what a game...
Ring of Fire was the game that transitioned us from dusk to dawn, and kept us laughing and wide-eyed until it was time to finally go catch that sunrise. A little bit of background: it has been my dream to watch the sunrise over London, for almost three years now. This weekend, we very much brought that dream to life. Often, when we're living a dream-come-true, it never really feels like a dream until reflecting back and realizing we just lived something that maybe we once dreamed. However this one very much did feel like a dream, and it has place in my heart like one does.
With Midsummer approaching soon, the sunrise was scheduled for around 3:30 AM, so that's when we set out. Whoever is reading this, I don't know if you've ever set out on foot at 3 o'clock in the morning, but oh what a feeling it is to strut through the streets on a Saturday night (Sunday morning), of a deserted cityscape. We were in the movies; we made up the musicals. The stereo was our chorus, and we were Gene Kelly in 'Singing' in the Rain,' tapping singing and dancing our way to the park.
Once, to our surprise, we realized that the park was actually open, we found a nice little perch atop the Hill and made ourselves comfy. The sun hadn't begun rising just yet, but we had ourselves, and a heartfelt playlist to keep us entertained.
It really wasn't until after we all woke up this morning and began piecing together the night with all of our individual perceptions and conversations / happenings, until we remembered how we went from sitting and chatting, to slipping and sliding down Primrose hill at dawn. *Correction* it wasn't until we played back the audio, of which Madam Bowie had recorded for a choreographic project, until we remembered what had got us up in the first place... it was THE SONG.
Leading up to mine and Lady A's departure from London, us three Malden Crescent sisters had been choreographing for a film. It was set to a song that still takes me back to them every time I hear it. Hearing it on this Hill, and being pulled up by it's very first strum... it was one of the first times I ever truly felt moved by the music, and swept away.
Music is what swept us up and into the night. We danced, for I don't know how many hours. The hill was still dewy from the night, so once the first beat dropped and we started running... we started to slide. We rolled down the wet hill. We ran after our friends rolling down the hill, to scoop them up at the bottom. We lifted each other up. We also dropped each other, tripped over each other, and ran into each other (too many times to count). We climbed trees. We listened to a guitarist who sat among us on the hill. We jumped, we ran, we sang and we danced. We sat, both alone and together. And we watched as the sun rose above the city; as it rose above the trees below, the trees close by.
We watched as it rose above us dancing.
Like I said sometime above, last night we lived from the heart... has that ever happened to you? You know the feeling I'm talking about, I know you do. The one that makes you spread your arms to match the bird, and chase and seagull on the beach until it takes flight. The lamppost you pass that, out of nowhere, turns you into Gene Kelly. Sometimes in life, there's absolutely no rhyme or reason for how a moment plays out. Yet, it also makes sense. These people are the ones who inspire me immensely. Their overall being inspires me. I feel connected to them, through all of the love, support and utter acceptance we have for each other. Seeing them happy naturally makes me happy. And, seeing them dance, naturally invites me to do the same.
All of my stories are non-fiction, as well as the people in them. However, I have given each and every one a stage name with careful thought and detail, because all of the people in my stories are just that fabulous.