She’s Leaving Home

Last week a good friend of mine sent me the message below. How is it that friends –even the most recent ones- can see things that close relatives cannot?

Curious how certain patterns, certain things become relevant in one’s life. ”She’s Leaving Home” has been a background piece several times in my life, all of them crucial occasions. It perfectly apprehends my run-away-bride behaviour, my always-radical departures.

My first attempt to leave the house occurred at the age of 4; it didn’t take long for my father’s driver to follow my trace and bring me back home. My first solo adventure lasted only few precious hours but it tasted like heaven. Ten years later I escaped from a hideous -girls only- board school in San Antonio, TX and hitchhiked my way to Dallas. Back home and forever grounded my mother asked why I behaved so thoughtlessly. No word came out of my mouth; I felt guilty and confused. At that time I couldn’t clearly understand myself let alone what others expected from me. It seemed that everything I was or wanted was the exact opposite to what adults had planned for me. My parents divorced short after that incident so their wild cat ended up living in the North of Europe with a French aunt I had seen twice in my whole young life.

Uncertainty was never a problem since it is in my nature to take risks and rise to the occasion; however it was my infinite need to be free and discover the world and myself what kept me going. Marriage was never in the original plan of course, but a home. My daughters became my home; I created what it was denied to me for so many years. Thus when I realised that my multiple attempts to save my former husband were completely futile and that his mental illness was threatening not only his but our lives; I took my girls, jumped into my van and left. No certain destination. No hesitation whatsoever. Behind me bombs hit, showering debris from all sides in the darkest night of my life. In front of me a thick cloud of dust, a suffocating forest of poisoned smoke. Failing was not an option, so I gave gas.

All supposedly friends with no exception shook their heads and asked why do you behave so thoughtlessly? What could those people possibly know? No word came out of my mouth. This time though I felt no guilt, no confusion. For the first time in centuries I could see clearly. I saw so much bullshit all around me. I saw horrible realities, realities those friends and relatives had chosen to ignore. I could no longer relate to the aspirations they had for creating a wealthy, comfortable and pleasant life for themselves.

Thankfully my former husband never asked, he was an utterly clever and sensitive man; I guess he knew from the bottom of his heart that he had blew it, he knew he had lost me for good. We were headed in totally opposite directions and we could never hope to turn those around and go back towards a point in the past where we had something in common.

Yet I cared till the bitter end, my love for him never died. I loved him for the good times and all the lessons learnt together in the far past. It was just that my love for life, other people and purposes had far exceeded it. And I was brave enough to stand up for my values and genuinely, yeah, perhaps recklessly, acted accordingly.

Among the ruins, midst in the misery of an apocalypse’s-like scenario, and right in the core of nowhere, freedom was mine at last.

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HOPE

People wondered why I was so collected, so self-controlled during my husband’s funeral services; no person said a word about it, but I know they all thought I should’ve shown some emotion, any. They expected a wounded, ugly looking widow who was sobbing. Well, folks, no! No time for tears, no apologies, and no regrets. Not then, not now, not ever again. God knows I did what I possibly could and beyond, I’m clean.

I profoundly mourned my husband’s death and the consequential termination of our marriage long before his physical tragic end. The burial was literally the final nail into a self-made coffin, the end of a painful journey that surreptitiously but decisively began ten years prior to his final departure. By the time of his posthumous homage I had shouldered more than my fair share of grief already. I was fully awake, on alert mode since my concern was to safeguard my daughters; bearing the brunt of friends offering grossly foolish condolences.

It was years ago while in India that I came to acknowledge the extent of the damage to myself and my family. Tirelessly driving along the colourful, dusty and infinite roads of Rajasthan, I began to get a full and clear perspective on what had become my life and the perverse impact it was having on my children. A shadow of my former self, I had turned into a ludicrous trophy-wife holding onto a relationship that no longer existed. I was no more than a high-maintenance employee trying to prevent mental illness from taking over, and the ground from collapsing and completely lost myself in the process. No one was to blame for the break-up except for the two of us; he couldn’t help it and I couldn’t take it any more. The unique and loving feeling that once united us drowned; and our lifestyle, privileged and surreal couldn’t disguise the growing void at the core.

Experiencing first hand the chronicle of a death foretold is no fun; this is a trip I wouldn’t wish on anyone. And yet, in retrospect I affirm that everything learnt through this winding path has been a blessing in disguise. It was written in the stars for me to lose almost everything I had and start all over from scratch. Thus I learned the art of wisely and timely surrender and simply let it be…. and reborn.

john_mayer_continuum_by_socfan6700

Months afterward and the future seemed quite uncertain, it was India again which brought me further to my senses. To my own astonishment I found out in India that even under precarious circumstances life still existed and was eagerly waiting for me. Unexpected grateful events nurtured my ever-hungry spirit, and filled my heart with hope. By then I naturally began articulating the first sentences in Hindi, as a child would do. Thought and language in dialectical symbiosis. Good Omen.

A few days ago while waiting at traffic lights I was weighing the idea of accepting a generous invitation to visit India by the end of the year and devote a few weeks to my artistic projects there; or stay in my country earning money and face another hideous Christmas alone, full of obligations and surrounded by false joy. Cars were starting to drive when I noticed it: two cars in front of me, same colour, same size, side by side; one of them a few feet ahead of the other showing the exact same letters and the exact progressive numbers on their license plates. C‘mon, there are 5.3 Million vehicles in circulation in my city!! The Universe works in mysterious ways.

“Move forward. There is a continuum, a next chapter in India”

 

Dating in India

bce00764e4de2ff5810fef5d0a22c019Most Indian men are handsome in a very Yin/Yang way; they are decidedly virile, yet gentle, sweet, and caring at the same time. Intelligent, skilled, and amazingly witty they make perfect companions until they want what they cannot afford. I’ve gone through a number of, at times ridicule, situations trying to keep married guys at bay or explaining seemingly underage fellows why they really don’t want to date a woman who could be their mom.

The attention a western woman gets in India can be enjoyable at the beginning, especially because, in my case, it allowed me to participate in a conversation without reticent-me having to initiate it. Forever a nerd, my curiosity knows no limits so the first contact with singles in India was delectable, rich, and sincere. But far too many of those guys were just looking for a free ride into the Wild West; as soon as they realise white women are not that wild and that the evening won’t have a happy ending, they lose grip and turn off, apparently. They only enter in a sort of twilight time-off zone and eventually return with the argument you’ve accumulated good points by avoiding their advances. “Good, whatever you say, but what part of no, did you not understand?” It’s like if to them, our western no was that peculiar Indian head wobble -source of much confusion and wonderment among us foreigners- but in reverse.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m by all means no spring chicken or a Hollywood kind of beauty or especially gifted, therefore I assume this conduct must be somehow indigenous. The stubbornness of their crush intrigues me, an incredibly long-lasting infatuation considering that Indian men usually don’t get attached to random women -let alone foreigners- since as many as 90% of all marriages in India are arranged. In fact, dating is a very unusual and controversial practice in India due to it.

And yet, as in the famed James Bond film saga, there was a spy who truly loved me. And as it happens in any good movie, this fierce emotional experience proved to be life changing. It was through the genuineness of his feelings and the intensity of his desire that I found the secret key to decode an ancient language; it allowed me to watch the gold of India from the inside.

Men in India usually hold back physical forms of affection in public as well as verbal confirmations of love. That doesn’t mean they are insensitive, it’s just that they are used to withhold these expressions out of respect. Point acknowledged, but difficult to bear. This, along with the pressure of his family and the media due to his public persona made life a living hell. Yes, the Indian traditional culture with the perceived higher sense of family values hits a western woman like a pile of bricks making cross-cultural affaires de coeur Utopia.

But he who loves never loses. If something, we both learned that compatibility is an achievement of love, not its precondition. And no, contrary to what Indian aunties believe, love does not only come after marriage, it happens in a second, any time and despite all odds.