A couple of weeks ago, I decided to break free the shackles of my tiny little chambre de bonne, so ably guarded by a quixotic busybody whose favorite pastime is to parade the hallways, and spend some time in Paris's famous Latin Quarter. The reasons for this temporary upheaval were manifold: Amidst my current visa crisis, I cannot travel (one of my heart's most insatiable desires) nor can I apply for a new apartment (something my mental health has been struggling with for some time.) For reasons yet to be made clear, my job is consistently MIA, culminating in little to no work coming my way. Without a visa, this also makes finding more work quite challenging.Therefore, hands seemingly tied and anxiety ready to detonate, I felt it time to carve out some self-motivated mind space.
I resolved to book the sweetest and perfectly sized Airbnb studio on a main thoroughfare right through the heart of the 5th arrondissement. The space itself would provide my much needed respite from normal apartment woes and also place me within a stone's throw from the ancient dwellings of such notable writers as Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, or the Fitzgeralds. As one of my many goals this year is to complete a novel, I couldn't imagine a more inspirational backdrop for my adventures.
I decided to call my experience the "Zelda Fitzgerald Writing Residency." I wanted to write and be inspired by the Lost Generation, drinking in the French culture and history of art and beauty and freedom and love. I spent my days wandering up and down Rue Mouffetard, walking through the scrumptious open air market, tripping over the cobblestone and staring up at the blue sky. I had a couple of Parisian afternoons when I sat at a café in Place de la Contrescarpe, sipping coffee and scribbling in my notebook. I enjoyed my evenings at home, listening to the sound of merrymakers on the street while tucked away in my secret little layer above the crowds.
I had friends over a couple of times for wine and snacks, satisfying my love of hostessing, since my normal little studio won't allow for much in the way of receiving guests. I went out a few times to the local bars and restaurants, once for the Brit Meetup which was fortuitously located in my little neighborhood that week. I also celebrated the annual release of the Beaujolais Nouveaux, drinking and eating the new varietal with relish.
When one week was almost over, I decided to live in the moment and see if I could extend my staycation. I hadn't achieved everything I wanted to yet and I needed to accomplish some more fantastic feats. In the end, I ended up staying for almost a full two weeks. I didn't write as much as I would have liked to. I think I had grand notions of churning out a hundred pages a day and walking away from the "residency" with a finished novel. Well sure, I tend to dream big or not at all. But I did write a lot and managed to accomplish quite a few things I hadn't expected to.
I finally saw the ex-boyfriend for the first time since breaking up with me on a text message. I did myself proudly and got through that hurdle oh so necessary to closure. I also visited a lawyer to finally discover how on earth I might be able to stay in France! And of course, I spent a day or two in mourning over the election of one of the worst potential presidents of the USA in history. I even met a couple of delightful bartenders who managed to prevent me from feeling like the overemotional loon I often am when a rush of emotion escaped my stressed out self and morphed into a puddle of tears on their pub floor.
No matter how much we plan in life, things very rarely follow a checklist of achievements. I needed to shift the energy and I did. I got everything I could have wanted out of my retreat and more. Now that I am back in my previous environment, I will not allow myself to be pulled back to my previous state of being. I am stronger, prouder, happier, and above all more in control of my future. Zelda's putting on her dancing shoes and living life to the fullest once again.