The last time my fingers burned and my cheeks were bright and my hair bounced over a thick pashmina wrapped around my ears, I was in Paris and the stompy feet to keep them warm in the mornings and the shake of the shoulders before stepping under the shower and the cold tiles in the bathroom was a ritual that made me glad every day I was there. I thought of that tonight as I let my skin get cold, the frigid air brushing against my naked arms instead of covering up of how much I enjoy Autumn.
I bounced to work this morning in wonderful shoes and interesting tights, my favourite black dress and a trench coat I've learned to tie "just so". I felt sparkly, even though, for once, I was not wearing anything sparkly or even red. I was just bubbled up on the inside, happy and warm and red blooded.
I love leaving work as the sun is starting to set and the golden glow comes off the city as it reflects the mirrored buildings. Getting to my car when the sky is pink and streaky and the birds are chattering and noisy. I was excited to be alive every day that I was in France. There was so much potential just in the act of waking up in the mornings that lazing around in bed did not appeal. So much I could be doing or seeing or being. I miss being excited just by the call of the wind.
There's a life lesson in there, and an obvious one at that. One that gets swamped because of all the mundane and real life things that threaten to overtake in a mutinous coup at any time. But it was not the museums or the galleries or even the tower that I thought about most this morning as I shivered putting on my mascara. It was our little white apartment and walking through the streets. That first blast of fresh cold air as it burned my ears. Of holding Bingley's chilled hand until my furnace like ones warmed it up. Of bouncing while I walked.
I remember being on a boat in the middle of the Seine and closing my eyes under a bridge just so wishes could come true. Standing in line at Franprix with a bottle of 2E wine and a box of pasta and being so very much alive.
I stood under the shower tonight, unwilling to get out and be abused by the cold and thought about how much simpler life can be when you're on holiday and you only live for yourself. And some days those thoughts make me morose and want to chuck in this stupid career and the aeons of study and work and effort. Do something simple instead. Something that doesn't take but just provides. A normal job.
But I want as well, a life less ordinary. Where I can push myself to my mental limits and never say "I could have". I never want to be that person. I want to retire when I am still young at heart but with a roof over my head. I want to travel to Nepal and camp on the side of the mountain and trek until I'm dirty and dusty and hot and my feet have blisters. But I want to go to New York too, and drink fancy cocktails in an amazing dress with even more spectacular shoes. I want to go on a Cruise Ship that is taller than the highest mountain in Brisbane and goggle at the opulence of the lobby. I want to do things that I will never be able to do if I just do enough.
It's probably a curse to always want more. I can think of at least one good friend who may or may not read this who will probably shake their head. Think that killing myself for this job and being so strung out by study and stress and mindfuckery that I can't even hug them when I see them but struggle not to keel over instead is not worth it. That any benefit I can find, even if it's making a 20 year old boy feel less miserable for 15 minutes does not weigh up against the rest. And maybe that's true too.
But this is my truth and that mindfuckery took me to Paris where the wind was cold and slapped my face and my fingers burned and my ears hurt. And it will take me other places too, other places that allow me to dream and wonder and plan and anticipate. And it forces me to think. To be organised. To be unselfish sometimes. To be a better person. And that's probably the best bit of all.