Hi friends, I’m back, like I promised 🙂
The photo above is the view from my window, out of which I contemplate the new life that stretches out before me, full of scary emptiness yet bursting with possibilities (if you’re an optimist).
I arrived in France a few days ago, after an intense couple of weeks in the U.S., where I said goodbye to my friends, a romantic partner (and now, friend), an empty apartment, a city, a country, a continent, and, most of all, a culture – which I will miss.
It’s real. It’s happening. Or rather, it has happened. I have returned to my homeland. [AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE HOME IS ANYMORE]
I’m staying in a cute airbnb in the South of France until the end of October, which drained the last of my savings (remember I haven’t been paid since June!), but is totally worth it. Although I feel uprooted and groundless, excited and nervous, strangely, I haven’t had time to really feel sad. Yet.
Last night, I clicked “send” and watched my 587 page long PhD dissertation fly away and into my committee’s email account. With that tiny little gesture, I shipped 6 years of work out into the world, exposing it to the eyes of five (scary) academics who will judge its quality, and ask me lots of (scary) questions on October 22nd, the date of my online defense. If all goes well, I will be a doctor by the end of the month.
I’ve worked so hard on this thing (that still ended up twice as long as it should have been) [IS HARD WORK ENOUGH TO MAKE IT GOOD?!?!?!] I feel vulnerable, fragile, raw, and almost ashamed at the though of my “intimate thoughts” being picked apart critically by a bunch of University Professors. Hopefully, I’ll grow some self esteem back once I am rested, and the defense will go ok.
Before leaving the US, I sold everything I owned, gave away my cat, said farewell to my boyfriend (must start saying “my ex”), and packed my whole life into 2 big suitcases… It was a wonderful exercise in letting go. I had to leave many things behind. And still got charged 100$ for the extra suitcase 🙂
I also went on a magnificent week-long trip to the West Coast with my ex (urgh), where I visited Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley, and Topanga Canyon outside of Malibu, with its beautiful hikes, its millionaires and eccentric old hippies, its gorgeous ocean views.
My flight to France was so bumpy that I thought I was going to die in a plane crash. We landed an hour early because of how strong the tailwinds were.
When I arrived, I had dinner at my parents’ house, who live in the town I have decided to move to, at least for now. T
here’s a reason why I spent the last of my money on an airbnb…
My mother has aged a lot since last winter. She is still drinking, although she found out she has alcohol induced hepatitis almost a year ago. She never delivered on her promise to quit drinking last year. Now, she has this slight, Parkinson-like trembling thing going on, that I was too nervous to bring up. I don’t even know if it’s alcohol-induced. Although my father says she is “trying hard”, she still managed to have 5 glasses of wine at dinner – which, believe it or not, is “not a lot” compared to other periods in her life. When they asked me to fetch something in my sister’s old bedroom, I opened the door and saw the room had been converted into a “larder” with dozens of bottles and boxes of wine stashed there, like precious supplies that one simply can’t bare to part with or run out of.
It’s all so sad, yet all too familiar, I can’t even begin to sort out how I feel. A part of me is even wondering why moved here, out of all places, when I spent most of my adult life trying to stay away from the toxic nest.
I talked about my mother’s health with my father, who reminded me that saving her is not my responsibility. I agree. But I also reminded him that burying our heads in the sand and enabling will only lead to one thing: cirrhosis, and, down the road (a road which is getting shorter and shorter), death. I am less angry at my father than I used to be. I realize that in a very very sad way, we are all doing our best. Speaking about alcohol is still a huge taboo in the family.
All I can do it follow my own path, and let go of what I cannot change. In any case, visiting my parents for a couple of hours was a powerful reminder of why I don’t want to rely on alcohol to get me through life.
Lol. Fun post Anne!
Long story short, in two weeks, I will be a homeless and unemployed Doctor. I need to figure out what to do, where to live, and, most importantly, how to make money, fast. I also need to make friends, otherwise I will start to feel very lonely.
Strikingly, I haven’t had any cravings to drink. Except for Kombucha – which is almost impossible to find here (I’ve been fantasizing about starting a microbrewery and taking over the French market 😉 but with no starting capital, that might be tricky).
The day before submitting my dissertation, I did buy a pack of cigarettes, unfortunately. I have almost finished it. Now that the adrenaline rush of finishing the dissertation has receded though, I want to get back on track and focus on the tools that help keep me sane and happy: meditation, healthy living, yoga (I already found a studio and took a class, which sounds insane given that there’s a pandemic happening, but did me a lot of good).
Most of all, I need to introspect and assess what my goals, needs and priorities are. Right now, everything feels very big and very solid, almost blocked. I feel small, which is both scary and a good advantage when you’re looking to wriggle your way into a new life.
As a “healthy” treat for finishing the dissertation, I booked myself an expensive hairdressing appointment this afternoon. Can’t wait.
Down below, me, poorly attempting Dancer’s pose in Death Valley Desert, a couple of hours before practically dying of heatstroke in a place (aply) called Desolation Canyon.
Big big hugs to everyone, I missed you ! xxx ❤