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It’s been a year today since I got my latest tattoo.
I had been thinking about it for a while, but I hadn’t really envisioned getting inked on a whim in the middle of a karaoke night. It seemed like the right time and opportunity to get a small but always visible reminder that everything sooner or later circles back to balance.
Over the past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about how some women seem to fundamentally change their life after an emotional shock. I have for my part moved some of the internal furniture around, gone a few steps into some unexplored paths, so maybe it is the time to take a bigger leap, something that can be seen from the outside, something palpable.
A year later, the round arrow on my finger is not a hope but a certainty – things did on some level come back around – and I am now looking at it to find the courage to do something I’m not really used to: Trying to consider myself legitimate, at the risk that nobody else will.
It has been a slow process, I came back to writing, and I started having longer projects, and three things started to make perfect sense.
Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own found a new, tangible meaning. No matter how much I admire women who find a way to create, and especially write, in the interstices of life, it will never be me, my attention span is too fickle. I need that room, not as a physical space, but as an area of life where I can follow my thoughts without being interrupted and where I don’t have to worry about the everyday issues that give me anxiety (if I don’t excel at every other simple thing in my life, if my kitchen is a mess, how can I achieve something as complicated as writing?).
Maya Angelou’s writing routine then came to mind. I remember reading years ago how Angelou used to write in a hotel room, which seemed to me like an awful waste of money at the time. After recently rereading it, I realized it was not about the room, but about having a distraction-free routine: no decoration to catch her eye, no one to disrupt a space that she would find in the morning in the same state as she left it the night before, a space she’s not in charge of, and to which she just brings some books and minds she loves, including the Psalms (I have been traveling around with Barthes’s A lover’s discourse: Fragments for the past year).
What suddenly made me understand these two things on a very concrete level was seeing Kieślowski’s Three Colors: Blue, in which Julie leaves her life behind as it seems the only way to become her own self and achieve freedom.
I do not identify with any of them, of course… Except for Julie, maybe, – ah, here come the spoilers – the blue-lit story of a woman who loses the man she thought of as her life partner, swims to kill time, moves into an empty apartment no one has the address of, finds out he had another relationship everybody knew about, is nice to the other – pregnant – woman, and understands she has to live her own life after using her talent to make her husband shine… plus, that scene where she goes into a café where the waiter already knows what she wants, and that order… Oh, I’m sorry, I digress.
I do not identify with any of them, it would seem pretentious, and I actually wish I had some other examples to look up to as I embark on my own writing adventure. Less privileged ones, maybe – I am here talking strictly in terms of means of production in the instances above: not everyone can rent a hotel room to write in, and I know I am lucky to be able to leave my life behind for a few days, answering the occasional email (ok, maybe a little more than that), choosing when I talk to people, and who I talk to – preferably not people I have to plan for. I know I am lucky to be able to disappear to others to appear to myself. And to circle back to balance.