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

Things that make me worse, things that make me better

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Things that make me worse:

 

Being away from people I love.

Waking up at 4AM to eat a three-course meal.

January.

Crying in the shower.

Pretending.

Forgetting to drink enough water.

Comparing myself to others.

Fitness blogs.

Chaos and crowds.

Googling 'Kendall Jenner bikini pics'.

Staring at my thighs as if they're not part of my body.

Too much makeup.

Peer pressure.

Fear of failure.

Sinking my nails into my arms when I cry.

Waking up sad on a sunny, summer day.

Instagram.

Bad kisses.

Cold, windy days.

Cynics.

Boys who turn out to be assholes.

Girls who turn out to be assholes.

Dumbing myself down.

Shutting myself off.

Saint Saens.

Leaving crumbs all over the bed.

Convincing myself that someone doesn't like me.

Not doing enough.

Photoshop.

Regrets.

Bad auditions. 

Overworking myself.

Looking up the girl who made my life miserable in high school on Facebook.

Staying at the party even though I want to go home.

Things that make me better:

Eating cereal in bed.

Watching re-runs of Friends.

Asking for help.

Walking to the top of Primrose Hill and feeling very, very tiny.

My dogs.

Going for a long walk by the river.

Warm soup.

Writing it all out until it's not just in my head anymore.

Home (the place).

Home (the song).

Running in the rain.

Calling my mom/dad to have a good cry.

Calling my friends to have a good cry.

Good kisses.

Changing out of my pyjamas.

Smelling my favorite perfume.

February.

Dancing at 3AM by myself in my room.

Hampstead.

Dessert.

Extra portions of dessert.

Re-watching 'Wish I Was Here'.

My brother.

Shutting off my computer.

Christmas.

Singing in the shower.

Favourite books.

Making lists.

Fairy lights.

Ice cream cocktails.

Acknowledging the pain and giving it the respect it deserves.

Hot baths with candles and a jazz playlist.

Cleaning my room.

Tea and honey.

Waterstones.

Old diaries and boxes filled with memories.

John Mayer.

Re-reading JK Rowling's Harvard speech about failure.

Good poetry.

Bad poetry.

My happy music playlist.

Getting up from the floor.