They say there’s no place like home, but what if clicking your heels three times isn’t enough? And really, what does “home” actually mean?
I would have stayed forever in my Brooklyn apartment– as I had in many of my relationships. It was clean and spacious, calm and uncluttered. A perfect place to rest your head at night, but not causing any type of creative breakthroughs or strokes of genius– just comfortable enough. Not complacent, but content. Neither disturbing, nor inspiring. There is no real fire in your heart, but you also aren’t quite dead yet inside. Like chicken– it’s fine, but probably wouldn’t be your first choice from any menu.
My days had become routine. It was very rare for me to encounter a curveball. Coffee, walk the dog, exercise, work, stare blankly at the refrigerator for something to eat, wine, sleep, repeat. You get to a certain point in your life when your friends have moved on– whether to a husband, baby, demanding career, or another city– and you are still standing there wondering what the f#ck you are doing. You realize that life isn’t an episode of Sex and the City and you probably won’t be able to get all of your girlfriends in the same room more than once a month. This is when you start to get antsy and anxious. I had never experienced anxiety until this point, but alas, I continued on with my routine days and solo nights in hopes that something might change.
I was a car in neutral. Too scared to put it in drive in press my foot to the pedal. No map. No sense of direction. No idea what I wanted. But sometimes, whether we realize it or not, the tough decisions are made for us.
One night, after binge watching another mindless TV show and downing several glasses of cheap white wine, I retired to my bedroom and drifted off to sleep.
The dog barked, I was startled. What the hell just happened? I saw the door to my closet had opened and I sleepily and clumsily crawled from bed– dog still growling– to inspect. As I opened the door completely, my clothing oozed out onto the hardwood floor and I saw that the racks of my closet had fallen from the wall leaving my wardrobe as a puddle of cotton and chiffon. I was too tired to deal with the mess that night, so I went back to sleep and the dog returned to his soft snoring between my legs.
The next morning I awoke happily– stretching my arms above my head and admiring the morning light– only to suddenly remember that my clothing was no longer affixed to the drywall of my closet and the anxiety started in again. I lay in bed a bit longer, dreading the task ahead and when I looked up at my ceiling fan spinning hypnotically, I realized something else. It had started to detach itself from the ceiling. I could see the wires that connected it to the electrical outlet and it was quite literally hanging by a thread. I grabbed the dog and hopped out of bed, switching off the fan before it made chop suey out of both of us.
I called my super to ask if he could help and while he got the ceiling fan safely back in place, he shook his head at me when I showed him my closet. I’d have to get help with that elsewhere.
Three has always been my lucky number– but ironically, they say bad things come in three’s. Well, if bad things come in three’s, I guess in a twisted bit of fate and depending how you look at it, three really is my lucky number.
A week later, I returned to my apartment after one of those rare occasions where my friends and I were all under the same roof at the same time (much like a lunar eclipse), only to feel a very cold draft wafting through my apartment. My off-white curtains were swaying softly in the cool fall wind. It was November in New York, I knew I hadn’t left my window open, so I pulled open the curtains only to realize that the top of my double paned window had fallen from the frame. I then closed the curtains, laughed, washed my face and settled into bed with my dog, navigating through the sea of clothing. If this wasn’t a sign that it was time to move on, I’m not sure what else it would take. The ceiling caving in?
The next week, due to a baby shower, I found myself again with all of my friends in the same room. I told them I was moving to Paris. I hadn’t planned anything– the words just tumbled out of my mouth like the clothes had fallen from my closet. I had no plane ticket, no apartment, no plan. I only had the four years of highschool French and a romantic notion of living in the city that had stolen my heart five years before. I was surprised to see my friends so excited and supportive. (Perhaps because a plane ride to Paris was more appealing than the L train to Brooklyn).
On February 1st, I lugged my belongings to JFK and boarded a plane to Paris. I was simultaneously excited and completely terrified. I’ve been known to have grand ideas that never come into fruition and this may be one of the first that has in a very long time. Once I said it to my friends eager faces, I knew I needed to keep my word– not for them, but for myself.
It took 45 minutes in a taxi from Charles de Gaulle to get to my new home. It was 7am and I only kept my eyes open so I could see and remember every moment. As I stood in front of the large wooden door on a tiny quiet side street of Le Marais with three suitcases, a dog, and a bag of groceries, I said, “Smitty, we’re not in Brooklyn anymore.”