Friday, October 24

JOY

On Sunday my mother and I went for a pancake lunch at the beach, despite the fact that it was raining heavily and the weather forecast had predicted a huge storm. The entire boardwalk was deserted, and somehow it felt courageous to walk there in the rain. Summer had been long and beautiful, both of us were unprepared for this kind of cold. I remember I would probably always feel that way after summer, completely unprepared for what the next season would bring. Having pancakes with my mother cheered me up a bit, and I was able to relax. I had felt upset with certain family members, and knew they probably felt upset with me. Maybe there was no escape from family relations, maybe one simply had to find a way to be at ease with them. Like walking in the rain on a deserted beach, you should enjoy it somehow.  


Saturday, October 4

DESIRED

So the impossible has happened: George Clooney finally got married at age 53. While George and Amal Alamuddin are enjoying their honeymoon in the Seychelles, I’m wondering how Amal succeeded where other gorgeous and long legged women did not. Apparently you can meet the world’s most desired bachelor in September 2013 and celebrate your wedding in Venice in September 2014. When George offered his phone number to Amal, she apparently refused. He started e-mailing her, which she thought was funny, but she always waited a few days before she’d reply. I can just imagine her PA saying: “Amal, George sent another e-mail, asking if you’ll go out with him on Saturday night," while she would not look up from her paperwork and simply replied: "Can’t you see I’m busy preparing my next court case, let him wait, he's just another guy."
Apparently waiting for women makes men furious. If there’s a moral to this story it is this: Ladies, do not answer your e-mails straight away. Make him wait. Make him suffer. You can even get George Clooney this way.

Monday, September 29

CHANGE

There was a strange smell of fresh apples inside the house, a smell which reminded me of visits to my grandmother, the long evenings when we would talk about her childhood, what life was like before the war. Inside that house I had felt safe and protected, reassured that everything would always stay the same. Perhaps it was dealing with change that was most difficult for me. Paris felt empty, even when I woke up the next day, and I remembered it was different once. Moto taxi guy had already brought me croissants and coffee, part of his ‘education sentimentale’, which made me somewhat proud of him. When I looked out of the window, dressed in a bright blue kimono, I imagined myself jogging through the Jardin des Plantes, running through fields of empty space, not feeling a care in the world. Later that day, on a terrace, I saw children with bags underneath their eyes, drug addicts and alcoholics, handsome businessmen with smartphones, teenagers carrying McDonalds in big paper bags, tourists looking for somewhere which looked nicer, a mother and daughter walking hand in hand. And suddenly I understood what happiness really was: it meant wanting to be where you are, at that moment, not wanting to change anything.      

Friday, August 15

SECRETS

This summer Paris didn’t feel like it used to feel. Perhaps because I was tired, or perhaps because the city had really changed, a change I hadn’t witnessed and was determined to deny. Moto taxi guy was waiting for me in front of the Jardin des Plantes. This was the moment that I loved him most, the moment he was still waiting for me, unaware of my presence, not knowing when or if I would arrive. Despite the heat he was wearing a black sweater, as if he knew the weather wouldn’t last. I knew he was the kind of guy who would forget my birthday on purpose, just to punish me for being me. Still I agreed to meet him, to listen to his stories about how hard his life was, to comfort him as if he were my child. I knew I had a lot of anger inside me, but I would never share my true feelings, never tell him how I felt and why. He waved at me and took my suitcase, asking me how my journey had been.       
I wondered if he would love me if he knew all my secrets, the unspeakable, the things I did and didn’t do. Maybe he didn’t deserve my secrets, maybe a short walk through the park with him would be enough.     

Friday, August 8

CONFIRMATION


Yesterday I went to visit Oreste, just to check if he was still alive, and if they still had those lemon biscuits which I like so much. I needed my daily dose of coffee, but also my daily dose of admiration, the confirmation that in someone’s eyes I was still desirable, perhaps even part of some violent and unspeakable fantasy. Oreste looked tanned and tired, he had just spent a few weeks in Turkey, but told me he would go back to Italy next year. Relaxing next to the pool had been nice, but there was no nightlife, and he had missed something he could only find back home. I imagined him next to his wife and children, which gave me mixed feelings, and had to remind myself why I was there. Oreste smiled and said: “You look tanned,” a statement which almost sounded like “You look good” and perhaps meant the same thing. I ordered my coffee and reminded myself I had to be more independent, not attach so much value to the opinions of others, especially those of men. “Here’s your coffee,” said Oreste. “Those lemon biscuits are a gift from me.”       

Saturday, June 28

SIMPLE

Reading Henry David Thoreau ‘Where I lived and what I lived for,’ a classic which was first published in the 19th century. Thoreau is all in favor of a simple lifestyle and preaches a love of nature and simplicity. What he writes could be true, that we are sometimes imprisoned by our houses and not really housed by them, that all our material possessions only burden us, that we are not made to live between four walls. In other words: all our comfort only suffocates us. Thoreau wonders: "shall we always study to obtain more of these things, and not sometimes be content with less." And one of my favorite quotes: “ I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and I threw them out the window in disgust. How, then, could I have a furnished house? I would rather sit in the open air, for no dust gathers on the grass, unless where man has broken ground.”  

Monday, June 16

JUNE

Being back in London after so many years felt strange at first. I had a suitcase which contained a navy blue dress, a belt with leopard print and matching pajamas, three pairs of socks and magazines I wouldn't read. London in June felt very pleasant, almost like you could blend in with the rich and famous, you could be that anonymous woman having tea on a terrace, the one that looked thin and healthy and was reading Marcus Aurelius. For some reason M., my friend in London, had invited me to Polo in the Park, an event for rich, successful businessmen and women wearing heels. That’s why I had also packed a pair of velvet stiletto’s, knowing I might not be able to walk in them, but that was a minor detail of course. In the end Polo in the Park was cancelled, I never met Prince Charles or Camilla, M. and I went to a play in Regent Park instead. As we watched the actors I suddenly realized: maybe one cannot expect to find love in London, but one can expect to find beauty, especially in June.



Monday, May 19

LOSS

Lately I have been thinking a lot about loss, and what loss means to me. I have lost friends that I thought would be friends forever, and gained some knowledge about people and the way they tend to think. The shallowness of everyday contact still shocks me. Perhaps loss has shaped my identity, defined the person that I am today. Or in the words of the Arab poet Adonis: ‘loss saves us’.


Monday, May 5

BENEFITS

On Thursday night I met a friend for tea, gossip and comfort food. It was cold, too cold to sit outside on a terrace, but being tough and European we decided we would. After a few years of being single, my friend now has a boyfriend, a small detail which seems hard to miss. While eating cheese souffl├ęs she asked me about my love life, my plans for the near future and if I wanted to commit. I was focused on the warm cheese souffl├ęs between my fingers, the cold wind on my cheeks, the small pleasures of living in a town up North. My sense of happiness was slowly returning, but I still felt a sense of melancholy, a remnant of a winter that was now long gone. I thought about male companionship, the idea of losing my freedom, and if commitment would be a large sacrifice. In fact, what I really missed was someone who would clean my bathroom, who would make me dinner after a long day at work and bring me herbal tea. So that's what I told my friend: “I guess I don’t want a boyfriend, all I want is a butler with benefits.”


Friday, April 25

MOMENTS

For a while life made me sad, which is why I didn't write as much. While cycling through town, I almost felt like a sponge, able to absorb everyone’s sadness, allowing everyone's tears inside my body, amplifying what I felt inside. It was as if everyone was grieving at the same time, and I was there to witness their grief, to record it and experience it as my own. After four years of completely ignoring his existence, I went to visit Oreste at his Italian coffeebar. Somehow I thought good coffee would cure me, but the only thing I noticed was how much older he looked. His eyes looked watery and there were some grey hairs in his beard. Of course he recognized me straight away. He made me some strong coffee and handed me the paper cup as if it were the Holy Grail. I felt grateful for Oreste’s presence, his ability to pronounce words like ‘mortadella’ and ‘provolone picante’, which made a normal sandwich sound like poetry. I told myself that this sadness would pass, that Oreste would always be there for me, selling his coffee and mortadella, that there was no reason to absorb everyone’s emotions, that I could just enjoy life like he did. While cycling home I remembered a quote from a movie, a quote which helped me to detach a bit: “Moments. Life consists of a series of moments. Let them go.”  

Monday, April 14

MEMORIES

A few months ago an ex-boyfriend from London tried to contact me again. I was tired of boyfriends, especially the ones from London, their designer clothing, their goals which seemed simple and shallow, their unhealthy obsession with their looks. M. seemed genuinely interested in me for a while. He sent me a few e-mails asking how I was doing. I told him I was doing great, something I always answer, despite the circumstances. He told me he had his own company in Luxembourg, something to do with technology, and had not been back in London for a while. Part of me expected him to invite me, something which I would politely decline of course, and part of me feared the confrontation with my past. I was attached to my own version of our memories, the way we had explored life when we were younger, our ability to be happy with anything, anywhere, even without cash. I worried he would not like me, the older, more cynical version of the girl he used to love. I worried about losing weight, getting the right haircut, driving a new car. After a few weeks he stopped replying to my e-mails. Apparently I had supplied him with enough information, or the information which I gave him didn’t fulfill his needs. Maybe I wanted him to tell me what I always tell myself: ‘Don’t be lonely, Margot. The entire universe is inside you.’


Friday, January 3

FUTURE

When I was young, my mother and I used to visit fortunetellers quite a lot. My mother taped all her interviews with them, and wrote down notes during their conversations, which she filed in a special black book. The idea that someone we didn't know could tell our future, intrigued us both. Most of these fortunetellers told us what we wanted to hear: ‘You will meet the right one in spring, you will soon have a baby, I can already see the soul of this beautiful child.’
Some actually made statements which could have been true, like: ‘The boyfriend you are with now, cannot be trusted. Whatever you do, don’t trust him.’ Others made statements which, looking back now, were completely false. After these conversations I enjoyed listening to the audiotapes or reading though the notes which were carefully filed in her special black book. Eventually the future always surprised us, even in retrospect.