Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I'll miss me in Marseille

At six a.m. yesterday morning, I walked D to the train station--just as I did on my very first full day in Marseille. As I walked back into the house that morning I felt a wave of, I don't know what: nostalgia, reality, our friend Time....whatever it was didn't last long--I went back to bed.

The day continued on very much the same way as my first full day solo in Marseille. Produce market, breakfast, writing, yoga practice then out into the city until dinner. Lather, rinse, repeat; such has been my simple little life here in this anything but simple city. And I am going to miss it.

Since getting off the metro in what would become my neighborhood for the next three months, I experienced what the French call a "coup du Coeur"--an instant connection. A mad love. My heart stopped. This was going to be magical.

And so the love affair began.

I love everything about Marseille. I love it for what it is and what it isn't--for not being the quintessential Provencal image of houses with shutters the color of the lavender strewn through the fields. It is not green country side and vineyards, Marseille is dirty as fuck: garbage and dog shit everywhere, graffiti over what could be some really rad street art--no, still rad street art. Nearly every wall and store front is bedecked with vibrant paint. Some relate to what the store or restaurant is selling, others are sheer works of art--I am especially fond of the monochromatic female motif with the most grand of inky eyelashes. I love walking those wild alleys to any one of the organic markets where they know I don't speak French well and bare with me, give me samples of oranges and smile when my excitement gets the best of me and I do a spring pea jig. Yes. Jig. They probably think I am some sort of veggie obsessed nomad with no rhythm. I'm glad to not understand the low toned cat calls and bear the obvious stares as I trek the side streets towards the port, where my fish guy calls me "gaupo" and sings to me in whichever of his five different languages he's vibing with that day. He gave me his umbrella yesterday even though I was soggy already from the rain. I love the rain because it washes away the dog shit. And I love how the sun streams through our six foot windows into the space where I get to move my body everyday. And I especially love cooking those veg and fish for those dudes I live with. And then going to the bar with the service that you might call shitty if it weren't 1E50 glasses of rose. And then writing something infused with this coup du Coeur. And then seeing it all and doing it all again, every damn day. Infatuation.

I haven't reached the point in my adventure where the infatuation fades. Where the work needs to begin to keep the love going. Perhaps that is because I knew all along that my time here wasn't permanent. For it is as Pema Chodron says (yes I have her memorized, because yes I am infatuated with her)

"recognize the impermanence and let that intensify the preciousness."
My time in Marseille has certainly been precious, especially as the last days linger so closely. What I am realizing, though is it is not the impermanence of the time here that is winding me, it is my time that is.
Now don't get me wrong, I understand this Buddhist principle well enough, and certainly know about life and death, what I mean to emphasize is that I will miss the Marseille me as much as I will miss Marseille itself.
To quote someone new for a change, Azar Nafasi said

"you get a strange feeling when you leave a place, like you\ll not only miss the people you love, but you miss the person you are at this time and place because you'll never be this way again."

This, I think was the feeling I got walking through the door yesterday morning: the sensation of many things having occurred all at once that haven't fully permeated my understanding of self. At the same time as remembering the intentions I had in coming here--feeling like the person I was two and some months ago-- I realized how I had fulfilled them to become whom I have been in living here. Believe it or not, I came to Marseille to do more than eat and practice yoga, came for reasons other than wanderlust and an insatiable curiosity; though it is unlikely I would have said no to D when he asked me to join him in France even if I had no agenda, I would be lying if I didn't write that I was full of expectation. As casual as I was about this adventure, as easy as it was to settle in, I expected to find the quiet and the time to create the space I needed--and I quote myself here--to "check in and reset." Marseille is anything but quiet, as you can imagine, yet I managed to syphon through the diluted contents of my previously busy and distracted life to find the simplicity that I craved here. In uprooting myself I found the grounding that I wanted. In that early morning moment I saw who I was and who I came to be, as subtle as those changes were, realizing too that that person would change when I left in ten days. In that moment I understood even more clearly the preciousness of impermanence.

You see, impermanence doesn't simply exist in life vs death, in relationships caught up in and torn apart, the last piece of cake, soles worn out of shoes and souls worn out from trying so damn hard at keeping things the same. Instead, our very own impermanence exists in growth itself, in learning, in change. These are all things I just recently wrote about: finding some stillness in order to notice just how much we evolve intimately as a single human being. But imagine, now, if not only did you embrace impermanence, but truly you saw it as precious.

Imagine if you allowed yourself to love all of the shit and garbage.

All of your shit and garbage. Imagine if you saw the street art beneath the graffiti. If you offered yourself patience as your heart and head communicated in their separate languages. What if you saw all of this as beautiful and fell madly in love with you?

Impermanence truly is a beautiful thing. We get to fall in love again and again and then again. Instead of fearing change or loss, we get to embrace fully what we are lucky enough to have. We get to be constantly experiencing. We do not need to be caught up in time or in constructing a sense of worth in how we spend it, but instead simply see ourselves be in each moment. To love who you are now because the next you will not be the same. Yesterday I went back to bed as the sun came up, this morning I watched it drape it's light over a small piece of this wild city from my kitchen window and woke up a bit more, ready to miss myself here and embrace myself in what's next.

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