"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek" - Joseph Campbell
It's shocking how fast time whizzes by as you get older. I have been in the UK for three whole years. And I'm still telling people that I just moved from California, probably as a way to help them understand why I don't behave like everyone else here. "Three years, wow," Charlie said to me, on repeat, as he mulls it over. And every single time he says it, a pang of shame skewers me: I haven't done enough. I haven't used my time well. I haven't achieved what I set out to. I know that's the anxiety speaking to me. I take one of those breaths they tell you work - six in, two out - and reframe it in my head. I live with the man I love. My daughter is in London. My mamma is near by. Yes, my son lives in LA but I see him probably more now than when we lived close to each other.
On Sunday, on top of a hill overlooking the Turville windmill - a village you may remember from "The Vicar of Dibley" - I realized that I'd dreamed of this for years: to ride a horse on a crisp and sunny day through the Chilterns, in the belly of Ravilious landscapes, green sod over chalk strata, littered with bare trees. "I believe I manifested this," I said to my companion, who is far more sensible than me, and pointed out that I had hit my head *very* hard on a tree trunk only half an hour before. It didn't take California to influence my belief in manifestation. It's inside all of us. All of it. All the time. You just have to bring it to fruition. (Concussion, apparently, helps.)
It's peak winter. There are no leaves left, but for fir, some ivy, a few rosehips. The trees are stark and dark and beautiful and wave in the January winds outside my window like soccer fans holding their scarves aloft. The sky is low, but briefly light comes through, and everything changes. A brightness. A moment of optimism. Base layers become important. Fires become important. I've even allowed the dogs in the bed for extra warmth. In Los Angeles, I spent my extra money on vertiginous stilettos in eccentric, capricious colors. Here I fetishize the LL Bean catalog and its myriad extra-warm waterproof outdoor coats.
Yesterday I bought house insurance and put down the deposit on my own house, the first house that I've bought on my own. It's terrifying. I don't know what I'm doing. "If all else fails, we'll sell it and move to LA," he says, and I feel some relief, knowing that his fantasy of driving an LA muscle car and living in a mid-century modern in the desert is one step closer. "You can always move to London," says my mother, and I know I couldn't, ever, live in London. She knows this too. This chalk is in my bones. Somewhere I have wooly mammoth dna or pheasant dna, dna of all of those who trod before in these hills.
My neighbor, who has become a friend, and who has been through more tragedy than anyone I've met, puts on lipstick in the morning. I greet her as I walk back from the stable yard. Our dogs rush each other and make doggie smalltalk, and I see her there with her hair still wet from the shower, but combed, and and a pretty and fresh orange-red mouth smiling at me. She reminds me that it's the small things. I tell her that she must see "The Farewell."
I haven't done enough. I want to fix that. I want to leave a mark. And I want to greet each day with lipstick. 💋