Sometimes I feel like the heroine of a novel. A novel with a heroine whose life is a bit whimsical, funny, a little unusual. A heroine who really, and I mean really, does EVERYTHING she can to have a normal life, but nope, not gonna happen, she’s not cut out for that. A heroine who makes mistakes, laughs about them, isn’t very cautious, falls into all the traps, but sometimes manages to turn them into beautiful stories.
Like a sort of Carrie Bradshaw, since I’ve been compared to her so many times, and I admit, when I was feeling my worst after the breakup, I re-re-rewatched Sex and the City and thought to myself, yep, the show doesn’t get old, and I guess I do have a little Carrie in me after all.
I feel like a heroine and sometimes I tell myself life is like a movie.
One week after our breakup, the workers arrived at my house and finally began the renovation. I’d been waiting for almost a year and poof, suddenly everything was in motion. As you might imagine, the symbolism wasn’t lost on me, especially when they got out their hammers and started tearing down the walls that had just borne witness to the end of my engagement.
Strange, I thought to myself.
I feel like this is what’s happening inside of me right now.
And also, in a moment of inspiration: “can I grab a hammer and help you?”
Seeing those pieces of wall crumble to reveal the bare bones of the house immediately had a cathartic effect. In fact, I wasn’t able to do anything else the rest of the day: something in me was shaking.
I was watching pieces of my life fall on the floor. It was joyful and painful at the same time, and I could see it was stressful for my little dog Lulu, who was very irritated to have these men invading what had been her domain, her peaceful haven.
The house would no longer be a peaceful haven for a few months.
For a long time, though, I didn’t want to see the signs.
My house and I were going through exactly the same thing.
I had bought it quite fast. It wasn’t perfect – it used to be – in its original form, but it had been slightly disfigured to fit the apparently American taste that makes people want a living room for the TV and a family room and other practical, sensible things that don’t make sense for me.
As soon as I saw it, I said:
1/ this house has good vibes
2/ the house needs more light
3/ we need to break down some of the walls to give it back its original simplicity
The neighbor across from me, a very serious guy, told me the house was very well-constructed — “it’s solid” he told me. And I said “Thanks. Yeah, I know, I’ve always been like that.”
The neighbor to the right, an energy expert (let me remind you, we’re in Venice, in Los Angeles) told me the house had its own rhythm and that everything involved with the house would take time. Since slowness is one of my defining characteristics (oh yeah, I’ve been saying I need to write a post called “late bloomer” for ten years now) I decided to not take that too seriously and figured in six months, all the renovations would be done and I would be enjoying the house to its full potential.
Oh, but I should have listened. Time passed. Everything was delayed, absolutely everything.
The house was more or less comfortable as it was. Liveable. Not super pretty, especially since when you’re endlessly waiting for the next step, it doesn’t make you want to invest in nice things. Or make nice meals, or invite friends over. I missed that and I’d been missing that for a long time – having a home that I liked. My apartments in New York were never great, my apartment in Paris had been so ugly, it was a joke – and anything before that seems like a prehistoric part of my life.
I got used to it. I can get used to anything, actually. That’s one of my talents. It’s also one of my biggest flaws.
I still wasn’t seeing the symbolism. Life was constantly slightly uncomfortable. My house was taking time, and my life was disintegrating before my eyes. And my patience, my patience comes so naturally to me, I never even questioned it.
Maybe I thought I didn’t deserve a completely finished, comfortable house?
I didn’t want to know.
I was too solid for that.
Especially because, from day one, I’d felt the house warmly welcome me into its arms. Inside, I felt like I was in a mother’s arms. Protected, loved, supported. That’s also how I feel in Los Angeles in general, from the beginning. Wrapped in warmth and love. Softness. Simplicity. Freedom.
And that’s probably why I was able to let myself soften. Wrapped in these arms, I was finally able to let go. Give myself permission to be myself. Give myself permission to let down my guard. Give myself permission to see my suffering. To heal. To take care of myself. To break up with the indestructible girl I thought I was.
The anti-heroine of my own existence.
I left my house to the construction workers, took my little dog in my arms, and took off.
We started staying at the Villa Carlotta, she and I. A beautiful building in Hollywood, a hotel with a magical history, where artists have been taking refuge for ages.
From here, I can see the city stretching out in front of me, immense and flat.
And very far in the distance, the ocean, the West. My house.
My house, so far away but so near to my heart, which after being demolished inside, is now starting to take shape again and come back to life. In a few weeks, it will be finished, clean and bright. And that’s when I tell myself that really, life is even more fascinating than a novel.
And that home, our true home, is something we have to find inside ourselves.
Far from home, the little things become huge and make me feel at home. Things like my dog Lulu sleeping next to me. A Sex and the City marathon. A conversation with a friend. Rereading a passage from Sagan or Ephron. Ten minutes of meditation. A nice hot tea. Getting cozy in my bed, writing, and turning my life into a novel.
So yes, I do feel like I’m in a movie because the rain pouring in Hollywood today doesn’t bother me at all: it inspires me. Because solitude doesn’t scare me: it fills me up. Because I can count on life to keep giving me stories to write. Because I accept the symbols and see them everywhere, like in a David Lynch film — that’s what makes life meaningful, and life – so complicated, so bizarre, so unexpected, so beautiful, eventually turns us into romantic heroines.
Translated by Andrea Perdue