fingers in cheese, feet in water

Woman reading, Alexander Deineka

On the second Sunday of the month I wake up early to have breakfast in the garden. In the sweltering heat, on a flimsy burning chair, as I listen to the neighbors' kids play on the other side of the fence and laugh easily as they throw water from their makeshift pool directly onto my feet. 

I wear my best French-woman-going-to-the-market-to-buy-bread-and-olives-and-flowers outfit and make my way to my favorite spot in the city. I walk behind two dads pushing a pram and my heart does a little jump because London Pride was just yesterday and I will not apologize for being an Emotional Aquarius Baby. I get my usual order at the creperie stand and pick flowers to press and send to my grandmother in my next letter.

I dip my fingers in cheese and my feet in water, and tell myself it's okay if my breath still catches from time to time.

 

I have been good for a while now. Which is not to mean I haven't had bad days, but I have been doing good. Day after day, for more days than I could have hoped for less than a year ago.

 

With that in mind, I walk slowly, with no real purpose. I try so desperately to commit these moments to memory, as I've been doing ever since I realized things had shifted -I have rarely put as much energy into anything as I did trying to crystallize perfect solitary mornings spent on Santa Monica beach into souvenirs for my heart.

 

Timestamps of a tide turning burned to my eyelids, a resolution. 

 

Like my high school teacher once (really, actually) said, "Anna, if you put half the energy you dedicate to your own personal drama into studying, you'd be top of your class".

I mean, she was an asshole but she wasn't wrong.

 

Thing is, I believe there's power in paying attention to small victories and slow days and big moments because everything else just --goes so fast. I forget birthdays and cancel plans as weeks and months blur one into the other, I forget to water the plants and do laundry and come home at a reasonable hour and to remember to breathe. I answer too many emails and listen to too many podcasts on my way to and back from work, I take too many calls during lunch hour and never answer my texts or drink enough water and never ever go to the gym when I said I would, I spill sauce on white clothes and stay up late investigating conspiracy theories and I am terrible, terrible at taking care of myself.

 

But I want to. 

 

So when I stick to the only routine I know is good for me, when I cancel out the noise and the messy and the complicated and just focus on here, now, still and silent, I am taking care of myself.

 

When I press play on Storms by Fleetwood Mac for the sixth time in a row just to hear the last minute one more time, when I get my skirt wet by jumping into the pond a little too hastily, when I spend five minutes watching a ladybug walk from one of my rings to the other and back, I am doing exactly what my heart needs. 

 

I've been scared shitless of change and questions I want answers to but do not have the energy to start asking myself. I've been scared to write, ever since I turned my back on so much of what made up my identity. I've been slipping and slipping and wondering if this is how it starts or if I'll only notice when it's too late.

 

I’ve been restless and hard on myself and I’ve been wasting time waiting for something more, always something better. Always waiting for whatever comes next when the pieces align themselves and you’re not breathing underwater for the first time in years but still expecting something to drown you. 

 

So I walk slowly, commit, commit, commit.

I tell myself perfect moments are worth celebrating more than a perfect life ever might be, and I breathe out my fear with every shaky breath.

 

I crystallize every moment, just as it is. Timestamps of a tide turning burned to my eyelids, a resolution

fight for the rebuild

Anna Myers | WRITING

"Fight for the rebuild", a friend told me a while ago. 

"You've got to fight for the life you want," she said. "It's worth every ounce of struggle."

 

Back then, I had no idea what that rebuild would look like. Six months ago today, I boarded a plane at LAX and landed in London tired to the bone but wide-eyed and weirdly excited about starting over, about building something back up from scratch. 

I didn’t know what the life I wanted looked like, which made the whole affair harder than it maybe needed to be, but.

 

I’d just discovered what I didn’t want it to look like, and that had to count for something, right?

 

It was raining because of course it was, and as the plane touched down the speaker system started playing Carolina and I laughed into my pillow because I really don't like Carolina one bit but it still means something, you know.

 

Six months on, I think I'm starting to realize what it meant.

 

On my last night in Milan, the night before I moved to London, I walked around the empty (and rainy! what an omen!) streets of the old city center listening to Sweet Disposition and wondering what the future would bring -wondering if I was making the right choice, how long it would take before I crashed and burned.

 

It meant a lot to me in 2013, that song.  I loved the promise of it, the sheer possibility of it.

 

I’m only half kidding when I say I moved to London for the way Sweet Disposition made me feel, walking up Primrose Hill one morning and thinking well, isn't this nice.  (Mom, do you like the Alanis reference?  I do.)

 

I might have crashed and burned, but I sure as hell haven’t forgotten that. 

 

Another friend said to me the other day, “Every day of your life since 2012 has been leading up to this moment.”

 

I’ve been thinking about that a lot, and she isn’t wrong. I have no way of knowing what else it’s leading up to, what else this rebuilt of mine might bring. But I know this: I have built something.

 

I’ve worked tirelessly at it, day and night at it, cried all my tears for it and waited patiently for it in a way that was so un-typically myself it shocked me with every moment passing.

 

Still I built it. 

 

It’s small and fragile and sometimes struggles to stay upright. It breathes funny and walks slowly and I get so scared it will not survive, I am terrified I will wake up one day and it will be gone, built from scratch and gone in a single night.

 

Runaway renegade, just like its architect.

 

I am scared it will do to me what I've always done to those of its kind, killed them off before they could grow legs good enough to stand a single chance. I'm scared to meet the person I'll have become next time I set foot in Los Angeles. I wonder if I'll recognize her, if I'll even like her.

 

I'm scared I'll go back on my words, I'm scared of long summer nights and faint promises and my friends getting tired of me pulling the same tricks, of the pictures losing their meaning and words I've marked in pencil on the books on my nightstand turning sour as I chew on them like I have any right to. 

 

Still, I built it. 

 

It’s small and fragile and sometimes struggles to stay upright.

It breathes funny and walks slowly and I get so scared it will not survive, but it's alive for now.

It's trying its best now.  

 

And the promise of it. Oh, the sheer possibility of it.

 

Happy six months back from LA to me. And happy birthday to Sign Of The Times, because some coincidences are too good to be overlooked. I think I'm starting to realize what that means, too.

Graduation: one year on

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A year ago today, I said goodbye to 17 years spent in education. Last Friday, I went along to my school's ceremony for this year's graduates, and felt... funny.

 

Out of place. A little lost. 

 

It was great to see everyone again, and the graduates did some truly amazing work -but as I watched them on the big screen, and thought back to when it was my final films up there, I couldn't help but feel like there was something missing. Like I was "supposed to" be somewhere different, have done better things with my time in the 365 days that had passed since then.

 

The only problem, you see, is that 365 days are not a lot.

 

They might seem like it, and yes, a lot of things can happen in a year -but in some cases, and in the entertainment industry in particular, a year means nothing. A year after you've graduated, you're basically still a kid. You've learned some things, and you've made some choices, and you've done some growing up -little by little. But those stories you read, about people just "stumbling" upon success one day? There's years of hard work and preparation behind that. Years. 

 

Some might be luckier than others -but then again, what does luck mean in this context? Is it fame, success, money? Not for me, I don't think so. Fame can swallow you up. And if you haven't put in the years of hard work, it will be even harder to stay afloat and not let it break you. So yes, luck. But also, we each have our own way of navigating life, and while shooting straight to the top can happen, it is generally incredibly rare.  

 

And that, I needed to be reminded of. On Friday, after watching my friends up on the big screen and congratulating them on the official first day of their career, I took a moment to be alone and remember to be gentle with myself. To be patient. To let myself live.

 

To allow myself to feel the good and the bad and the strange, because the more I yearn for some kind of "finish line", some special day when I can feel like I've figured life out, the more I'll miss all these fun bits in between.

 

 

I haven't figured it out. I haven't figured out a single thing.

A year after graduation, I am still basically a kid.

 

But I've taken little, little steps towards my goal. I've loved fiercely, and I've cried my eyes out. I've laughed loudly, and heartily, and I've lived a little.

 

 

So here's my checklist. Because I needed to write it, and I needed to cry about it, and now that I've done both maybe I can let it out into the world. 

 

A year on, I'm a lost kid.

 

But I'm a million times happier than I was this time last year, and that's progress, isn't it? 

 

*

 

Jobs I’ve had as a professional actress: 10. Some were great, some not so great, some made me hide in the bathroom and cry five minutes before calling action. Some made me cross paths with inspiring people, amazing friends, and fuelled me enough to keep going forward when things got tough. Some are still painful to think about, and I'm desperately trying to forget. I wouldn’t take back a single one.

 

Auditions I've had: around 25, maybe 30. My heart still threatens to jump out of my chest every time I walk into the room, but I got better at dealing with it. I got better at taking every audition as a chance to play, learn, better myself and not beat myself up about the outcome. The thing about it is that, yeah, it's tough -but it's so much fun. If I waste my time in the room being scared, I'll miss out on all the fun. So, that's what I'm working on. Baby steps.

 

Treated myself to post-good-audition sushi: literally every single time.

 

Friends I have on speed-dial for my regular post-bad-audition-freakout: 3. Thank you for listening, helping, getting me to stop crying in the middle of a supermarket, bringing me wine, and generally being amazing. You know who you are.

 

Inexplicably naive but endearingly hopeful emails to a super powerful casting director asking him to cast me in something I really wanted to be in but knew very well I wasn't right for at all: 1. I regret nothing.

 

Headshots I took and subsequently cried over, because how the hell does one choose between so many shots of the same identical face: 3700. 

 

Agents I've had: 2. 

 

Breakups I’ve gone through: 1.

 

Publications I’ve written for: 5 (Thought Catalog, She Did What She Wanted, Poets Unlimited, Dear Damsels, Soul Anatomy). From the girl who said she'd never write again, I am so proud of this one. I have no idea what it means, or where it will lead me, but sometimes just putting yourself out there is enough. Again, baby steps are all that matters. 

 

Times I cried on top of Primrose Hill listening to John Mayer: a million and one, according to my very scientific calculations. It's always worth it, though, when I come home with a lighter heart and a happy song in my head. 

 

Houses I’ve lived in: 4. One was a bad, bad move, and made me more miserable than it had any right to. One was my parents' house, for two months, when I needed to learn how to breathe again. One was the most wonderful friend helping me put the pieces back together when I didn't know where to turn. One is home, here, now.

 

Times I took the first flight home and cried in my parent’s arms until I could breathe again: 5.

 

Times it helped: every single one.

 

Pages I wrote of an apology letter, to the boy who broke my heart when I was seventeen and whom I blamed for every single one of my troubles ever since: 8. Will I ever send it? Probably not. Did it make me feel better? Hell yeah.

 

Volume of the squeal I let out after booking my very first flight to Los Angeles all on my own, in decibels: 100+

 

Boys I kissed: a handful. None of them turned into anything more, and that's the part I like the most about it. I needed the time for myself, and I needed to give myself a chance to be okay before rushing into anything I'd regret. 22 is me trying to be wise, apparently.

 

People who made my heart grow a thousand sizes bigger and helped me be okay again: a lot, and I'm so fucking grateful for every single one of them. Some are my closest friends, some are new friends I made (hi, Internet, you're the best. thank you for introducing me to awesome people and generally making my life better), and some probably don't even know they had a part in it. Some will surely have forgotten my name by now -but I remember them, and if I'm not a complete mess right now I owe it to all of them.

 

Pizzas I regret eating: none of them. Italy is good for the soul.

 

Pounds I gained: a few, judging from how my jeans don’t fit anymore.

 

Amount I care: literally zero. 

 

Times I went running: 32. This time last year, I didn't even own running shoes, and I'd never run more than the two minutes necessary to run after the bus & still miss it. One day in March I'd just been crying a lot, and I felt incredibly lost. In a moment of clarity, I told myself: if you can do one thing today, one thing that makes you feel even just a little better, you will not have wasted today. Just go for a jog, 10 minutes, 20 max, and it'll be enough. I ended up running for an hour and crying tears of happiness on my way home, and that's how I figured I couldn't stop there.

 

Running shoes I now own: 3.

 

Times I hashtagged #adulting as a joke after tweeting about something ridiculous I'd done proving I am not, in fact, an adult: so many that it's not even funny anymore.

 

Times I considered giving it all up and getting an office job / a business degree / a cat / all of the above: too many to count. But I keep coming back here, and damnit, that's got to count for something. If I could go back, I'd still choose this every time. What "this" means, I don't really know. A creative life. A life that lets me go at my own pace, and figure it out along the way. A life of acting, because that's the one thing I'll always love more than anything. But also new things, or old things I've re-discovered: a life of writing, and singing, and playing the piano for nobody but myself, and maybe someday directing, or producing, or all of the above. Patience, baby lion. Little steps.

 

Times I cried over Harry Styles becoming an actor: you really, honestly, don’t wanna know the answer to this one.

Forget Saint-Saens

This is my fantasy, if I want it. If I take it for what it is, and look at the bigger picture instead of trying to get the details right, this can be it.

I tell myself I didn’t get what I wanted because my blue-eyed-guy isn’t here to play for me and I’m 5 pounds heavier than I was at seventeen and I’m a bit of a mess at being an adult, but I’m not. I haven’t fucked up as much as I think I have, and I refuse to be too scared to see that I got exactly what I’ve always wished for. I’m gonna call it what it is, which is happiness.

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The one who runs away

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“Are you surprised, as if it were a novelty, that after such long travel and so many changes of scene you have not been able to shake off the gloom and heaviness of your mind?

You should change your soul, nor your sky. 

Do you ask why such flight does not help you? It is because you flee along with yourself. You must lay aside the burdens of the mind; until you do this, no place will satisfy you.” 

Seneca, Epistles 1-65

 

I did a lot of translating from Latin in high school, and although I’ve forgotten most of it, this one maxim is still burned at the forefront of my mind, as if I’d read it yesterday for the first time.

 

The actual first time I read it was in High School, and I remember how my friends all laughed because oh Anna, isn’t this funny, oh Anna, doesn’t this remind you of someone. 

 

Me, it reminds me of me. 

 

I’m the One Who Runs Away.

 

When things get tough my animal instinct has always been to run for the hills. To give in to the voices in my head when they get too loud -the ones that likes to think life will be so much easier once I’ll find another town where people won’t know my name and restart from scratch. 

When things go right, sometimes I get so scared that running for the hills is the only option.

 

There was the Australian stunt that went wrong in 2011 and the New York one that went off without a hitch in 2012. There’s my parents’ house in that small town by the lake where nobody knows my face and nothing ever happens, which has been my life saviour since 2009. 

 

There’s that time I packed my bags at 19 and moved to London to be a new person, if we want to get technical. That counts, too.

 

I run away because it’s what I do best, and because staying is difficult when you’ve gone your whole life wearing your heart on your sleeve and you suddenly decide you want it back. If everyone knows your colours, they’ll always hold a piece of you. If nobody does, well. You’re safe.

 

You settle in, get a new mirror, light a few candles, pick new routines. Make new friends, change your hair, and change your accent, too. You sing new songs and name your favourite spots in the city and there’s big clouds coming but you’re safe. 

 

There’s a restlessness in your bones and the routine got old. You dream of different lands and play with paper airplanes, the sun doesn’t feel as warm and words acquire a different taste. Small and quiet and almost whispering, you tell yourself you know this feeling, you’ve felt this feeling. There’s big clouds coming and you’re not safe anymore.

 

I’m not safe. I’ve not been safe for a while now, but I’m trying to change my ways, you see. I ran away in winter because I had to, but I came back. 

I didn’t have anything but five brown boxes to come back to, but I did because I’m trying this thing called being a grownup these days and I’m told that facing life is what grownups do. 

It’s spring now, and I still don’t know how I feel about it. 

 

My feet are itching and my colours are showing, bit by tiny bit like I always knew they would. I don’t know what to do with my hands and I don’t know how to stop them from booking that flight. There’s an impatience in my eyes and I’d like to think it’s new but it’s the same me I’ve always known. It’s the me from the pictures, the one who runs away. 

 

Sometimes I wonder if it’s a sign that better things are on their way, if maybe leaving a life behind is really all it takes to get better. If I could make it work.

But I remember my high school friends laughing at me and Seneca laughing right along with them, and I remember Australia and I know what I’m trying to do.

 

I still have those boxes in the back of my closet. “Ready when you are”, they seem to say, and I don’t want to hear it but I will have to listen at some point because the only other alternative is staying. And I know I said I’m trying to change but I remember how good it felt to leave.

 

I remember how I kissed my best friend goodbye at 1AM in front of the Duomo in my home town the night before I left, and how I felt so powerful because the Duomo was destined to stay but I was done and I was free and I was flying. 

I sat on the steps and played Sweet Disposition and cried bittersweet tears and got my movie ending. 

 

What’s it going to be this time? London, show your hand. Show me how to stay, and we’ll get our movie ending some other way. 

 

Pink skies and butterflies and a girl trying to find her footing while her feet tap away, as if they were ready to go.

 

As if they were gone already.