While people in America wonder whether Halloween will be canceled, the French president announced that France would be going into a full nationwide lockdown again (this time, with schools staying open). Today is day 1.
After the lockdown in the U.S. last winter and spring, I, like many others around me, am tired of the whole no social life / no physical contact parts of 2020. Whereas last year I was fortunate enough to share the lockdown experience with a loving and caring romantic partner, this time I’m flying solo. Single and freshly moved to a new continent in the time of Covid … a memoir no one wants to read, probably because of its complete lack of plot.
Here in France, every time you go out, you need to have an official paper with you at all times, that the police routinely checks, and on which you tick a box of listed options stating “legitimate” reasons to leave your house. Needless to say that dating and making new friends are not on the list. This morning, I went out to do some food shopping. The sun was shining and the sky was blue, but the streets were eerily empty, with shops closed, café terrasses deserted, and a few masked ghosts hurrying home with a bag of groceries or a baguette under their arm. Very post-apocalyptic-wartime atmosphere.
I never thought I would get to taste the joys of lockdown in two different environments and countries. In the U.S., I had vast open spaces, nature and trees, a quick drive away. Here, I am in a medieval city made of white stone, with narrow alleyways, and a small but beautiful botanical garden I can run to daily, whenever my nature cravings get too strong. There, I could cook, talk, hug and have sex with my partner, or pet (and, of course, talk to) my beloved cat. Here, I have a small but cosy apartment, and just myself to talk to in the mirror.
I’m feeling a bit tired and exhausted at the prospect of spending a whole winter with no intimate or physical contact with another human being. Zoom just doesn’t always do the trick.
So I am going to have to be resourceful. Reconnect with the creativity I set aside during my PhD: painting, drawing. I missed it so much. Reconnect with the joys of baking and cooking in France, where quality produce and recipes are abundant. Reconnect with myself, and my hard-won ability to be content and happy while being alone, and single (it really took me years to get to this point). As long as it’s not forever, I can navigate the lonely yearning for connection with grace.
Thankfully, remote job opportunities are appearing on all sides, and I have the luxury to be able to choose between those that speak to me the most. As those of you who have been reading this blog know, I wasn’t really satisfied during my 6 years (or 10++ if you count the pre-grad school years) in Academia, a field that ended up limiting my sense of freedom and creativity, and spiking my anxiety levels, to a degree that was seriously unpleasant, rather than fulfilling.
This weekend I have several job interviews lined up. One of my committee members wants to hire me as her editor/research assistant starting Monday, for her new book on schizophrenia. I’ve also been asked whether I’d like to translate a book by a world-famous American philosopher called Martha Nussbaum into French. I applied to a bunch of translation and copy editing jobs, at various companies, and many are offering me remote projects. And last but not least, in a couple of hours, I have a Zoom interview to become editorial manager for an Eating Disorder Recovery program and online blog. I would really LOVE for them to hire me. That position would allow me to combine my writing/reading skills with a broader, nonacademic vision that aligns with my values, my passion for therapy, and my desire to help others. The way this program talks about recovery also really fits my own conception and experience of it, as a process of self-discovery and self-healing that goes beyond mere acquisition of knowledge and behavioral change, but also requires that we dive deep into our emotions, heart, and soul. That’s basically my interview pitch! lol 🙂 No, but seriously, it’s also what I truly believe. We’ll see what they say.
So I probably won’t meet my new boyfriend in the upcoming months, but that’s ok. I’ll snuggle up in my new apartment, and dive deep into work, while making sure to set time aside for self-care and self-nurturing. And more WordPress. I never thought I would go from regular party-goer / bar-dweller / relationship addict to hibernating / single nun / sober / disciplined worker in my 30s. But maybe that’s what your 30s are about: calming down, figuring out what you want, and what’s possible given what life throws at you. E.g. a global pandemic.
Long story short: I miss BOYSSSS but I’m gathering my energy to invest in myself, my meditation practice, and the new work projects that end up being my companions this year, now that I am no longer a PhD candidate but a PhD period 🙂 Life is mysterious.
Sending big hugs,