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Homecoming

I am back in my home earlier than some of my neighbors after being evacuated due to the Woolsey fires this past week. By the grace of whoever watches and protects us all, the officer at the roadblock allowed me to pass into the canyon where I live.

I hit a breaking point. I just had to go home and for some strange reason felt the Gods were on my side. However, I wasn’t sure what obstacles I would encounter on my way home or how I would talk myself into passing through. Maybe I’d lie and say I had to get more medication or some other bullshit. I needed a break from it all. I was drooling at the thought of sleeping through the night in complete silence in the woods.

I don’t like to lie nor am I any good at it but sometimes, desperate times call for desperate measures. When I approached the officer blocking the street I needed to enter, I asked if I could get in. He asked where I lived. I paused just a bit too long before I answered. My reply was less than a mile from the truth and I sensed he knew it. He let me pass anyway. I felt terrible for a bit and then utterly relieved. I thanked whatever angels were with me.

As soon as I stepped on my property my shoulders relaxed. My rib cage dropped. And I took a huge exhale. I expressed my gratitude out loud for the officer that let me pass. Gratitude for my home, with all its quirks and little noises and imperfections. For my friend who so graciously took me in with Zeus, my handsome kitty, when many were not as feline friendly.

Now I am somewhat sequestered in my home as I don’t know if I’ll have the same luck getting in and out freely. I’ve spent the day tending to things that haven’t been tended to. Cleaning. Home assignments I had been putting off. Emails that should have been sent days if not weeks ago. I’m nesting. It’s so peaceful here with over half our town gone.

Without little Zeusy around (I left him at my friend’s apartment truly believing the evacuation would be lifted today and I could return to get him), my home is so much cleaner. I am relishing in its lack of paw prints, cat food and litter littering my floor. I needed this. Even for just 24 hours.

But I had some important realizations today as I washed clothes, cleaned floors, emptied closets, and rearranged furniture.

While my house may be a bit dirtier with Zeus traipsing in and out from the great outdoors, my heart is fuller.

No matter how sparkling your floor is or isn’t, however big or small, a home is to be cherished. Honored. Loved. Respected. And nurtured. We all have different ways to do that. It felt good for me to clean, burn sandalwood, organize and rest.

As I unpacked and re-nested I realized, like I do when I move, that I didn’t need much of what I have been harboring in my closet. I started pulling items off their hangers and putting them in a ‘To Donate’ pile. All ready to go to any organization collecting items for victims of the Woolsey fire.

I don’t have a lot. Everything I own fits in a studio apartment and my office and practice studio. I have one closet. One dresser drawers. Yet, as I unpacked I still felt too cluttered. I began emptying. With every shirt or pair of shoes I dumped into the donation pile, I created a little more space for other non- material things to enter my life. Things I’ve been hoping, wishing, and praying for.

We’ve all heard that people are more important than things. But how many of us are truly living by that philosophy? Do we ever stop to think when we buy that fifth pair of shoes (in my case boots) that we are cluttering our life, preventing the things we truly desire from entering? We weigh ourselves down with so much – food, shoes, lip glosses, purses, t-shirts.

When is enough enough? I wondered if our culture’s obsession with consumption – having more in every area of our life – may be contributing to the devastation of our planet. That our singular home – Earth – is suffering as a result of our insistence on overstuffing our individual homes.

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I Didn’t Love the Food In Paris.

This may come to a shock to most people, but I did not love the food in Paris. I know it would seem appalling to not indulge in the copious amounts of cheese and bread that have made French fare so famous. To the extent that I could, I did. But damn, I missed vegetables. I tried to eat at all the places recommended to me by friends and those who have wisely tread the Parisian path before me in search of the best falafel, gelato, and avocado toast – but the amount of carbs were overwhelming. Even the healthy recommendations (Fragments and Wild and the Moon) while lovely, were laden with carbs. Croissants, banana bread and baguettes made their way into most every meal. Most of Paris’s health options involved a lot of grains and beans, which do me no favors either. I thought I found salvation at a restaurant in the Gare duNord on my way back to London where I saw ‘seasonal roasted vegetables’ on the menu. I had high hopes for some artichokes (these seem to be a popular vegetable in Paris), maybe some carrots and onions and green beans or broccoli. Imagine my disappointment when I received white potatoes, a few carrots, of course, artichokes, and white beans steamed hidden beneath a rich butter sauce. My heart sank. My belly ached. I desperately craved a big ass salad.

I did have my very first macron (salted caramel for the record) and while it was pretty divine, my life would be complete without having another. The croissants I had for breakfast each day, 3 in total, and an additional piece of bread at dinner each day was enough to put me in a coma. I slept more than I have in weeks in Paris. At least eight hours a night – maybe nine.

Maybe this is because, for the most part, I’ve been off sugar and carbs since six weeks prior to my trip and I’ve felt quite amazing. My energy didn’t slump late afternoon as it used to and the consistent belly bloat I used to experience disappeared. After my week in Europe, the bloat was back. With a vengeance. It’s weird but for once, I didn’t care so much about food. I just cared about feeling good.

I gave myself ‘permission’ to eat whatever I wanted in Paris. By the second day all I wanted was some steamed broccoli and avocado and olive oil. I met a lovely man – an Italian jewelry designer – who was in town for fashion week and from whom I bought the most beautiful ring. We agreed Italian food would be much more agreeable for me. We very well may be the only two in the city or in the world who don’t love to eat in Paris.

What I do love in Paris is everything else. I love the lights. The sounds. The smells. The sights. The architecture. The Seine. The people. The sky. The beauty. Everywhere. Beauty. I love walking in Paris. I love the pace of Paris. I love the energy. I love the way Paris seems to enjoy life. The food was last on my list when it came to the most delectable gifts of this city. It is hard to encapsulate in words what Paris is. She is there in Her most resplendent way. Shiny. Bright. Joyful.

I don’t know why people say Parisians are rude. Maybe it is because the people with those opinions are assholes who expect everyone else to speak their language. I try to visit other cultures with as much reverence as possible, understanding I am the visitor. I don’t expect people to speak English and feel humbled and grateful they do and are willing to assist. And the Parisians were always willing to help when I lost my way or didn’t know North from South from East from West – which was often.

Traveling solo, per usual, I met the most interesting people I may not have otherwise, namely a couple of Americans. One, a best selling novelist who has written a book based on her love affair with Paris and Peter Jenning’s ex-wife, a truly fascinating woman. Another, a man from Brentwood, twenty minutes from my home in Los Angeles. It was nice to connect with people who understood my language implicitly. Mostly we discussed what a mess America seems to be in right now and how pleased we were not to be there.

As liberating as it may be to travel solo, I’ve been there done that. By day two in Paris, I was wishing I had someone to share those croissants and rose in the middle of the day with. As I wandered the cobblestone streets of the Marais grateful for my latest adventure, I felt the familiar tinge of loneliness. I walked it away, traveling 11 miles by foot to take in all the sights and sounds of the city of light, convincing myself it was better to have the freedom to go where I pleased without the consult of another. But I couldn’t walk away the thoughts of what it would be like to take in the gifts of this city with someone special.

While I was glad to be distanced from the political debacles of the States, I missed home. I missed Zeus and his early morning kisses and snuggles. I missed routine. I missed sweet potatoes and soft boiled eggs and avocado for breakfast. I missed spinach and broccoli. For the first time in the longest time – maybe ever – I feel content and settled where I am. I love my life. Not anymore for the many exciting adventures I am fortunate enough to take – but for the beauty in its daily messy and mundane.

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