Last October I was standing in a bathroom in Florence, Italy. I remember looking at myself in the mirror, my tear stained face, and wondering who that person was that was staring back at me.
I was halfway through my honeymoon. I was 29. I was dreading the return to New York. I was dreading more doctor's appointments. I was afraid.
Ah, fear. The great equalizer. I took a deep breath and moved on.
November came and went. December. January.
Life kicked up so much dirt and when the dust cleared nothing looked the same. It was like waking up one morning and looking out the window only to realize that all of the buildings surrounding you have picked up and left just to be replaced by something new. And you stick your head out the window and find that your home still looks the same. The same bricks. The same sloping fire escape. But the floor boards are loose and nothing is where it used to be. Pots and pans constantly jangle on your shelves and the faucet in your kitchen is leaky. It never used to be.
You keep going about your daily activities. You keep pretending that nothing has changed. You look at the building across the street and tell yourself it's always been there. And you've always been here. Close your eyes and breathe. This is just fear.
You decide to walk into the unknown. To embrace it. You quit your job. You leap out of your comfort zone. You stare into the horizon. The horizon that is jumbled with people and places that look so familiar yet wholly unrecognizable. You find yourself asking- is this a dream?
The ceiling gives out in your apartment. The rod in your closet snaps. Your toilet won't stop running. And every time you open your eyes the lights flicker on and off.
Minutes give into hours give into days give into months and you wake up one morning in July and realize that the person who stood in that bathroom in October is not you but also it is you. That you are not who you were five minutes ago or even three. That the inside of your home has fallen away but from the street the facade still looks the same. It's a building without walls. Without floors. An empty elevator shaft.
That the woman in that bathroom in Italy in October wasn't crying because she was scared or uncertain. She was crying because change is painful and ugly and the wallpaper had started to peel. She was crying because she was so desperately trying to superglue everything to the floorboards. To the walls. To keep everything as it was. But she wasn't a museum. She was just a regular old building.
You don't need to open the windows now. The air just blows right on through. The space is refreshing. Nothing to step over. No stairs to climb. But you have no furniture so you don't know how to relax in the way that you used to. You walk in circles for a while. Stare out the windows. Stare at the wall. Finally you sit in the middle of the floor. You stretch your legs out. Lean back on your elbows. The sun has come and gone in your pacing. Circle, circle, sunrise. Circle, circle, sunset.
With closed eyes you rest your head against the dirt that was once your floor. You open your eyes and realize that the only lights that flicker now are the stars you can see from your roofless house.
You spread out your arms and legs like you're making snow angels in the dirt. Earth angels. This idea sends a smile creeping up the corners of your lips and you lay there covered in dirt laughing into the night sky.