A New Dawn in Albion

I’ve been in London now for just over a month. It’s a new beginning for me in this country, in a new field of study, in returning to school but in a different time and system – all unfamiliar, though oddly not as strange as I’d have thought.

In the week I arrived, I managed to find a flat in Camden Town, a place where I have some experience, as I was once in love in Camden Town. It seemed like a magical place – somehow it seemed bigger then, too. Perhaps that was in part why I was drawn back here. Not the only reason, of course, because I also wanted to be near my university. Camden Town started as a separate village from London, fed by the useful Regent’s Canal and connecting to the rail system. It is still village-like, in a way, and I find that that has held true even without the magic of love to sprinkle her additional charm over it all. It just glitters a bit less now, like the sparkling sucrose crystals gone from a box of frosted flakes. The cake without the frosting, the sundae without the topping. Ah c’est la vie, I suppose, that’s just how it goes when something slips away and you don’t know why, like my dream of a houseboat failing to materialize. But I’ve mostly been too content with my flat and too occupied with studies and visits from dear friends to dwell too much on what’s missing.

The first weekend – indeed the day after – I moved into my flat, Sarah came a’calling and I was happy to have a place to host her. We explored the city in a way I haven’t done in a few years, and then I was being guided – almost never on my own and certainly not giving a tour! We wandered hither and thither, visited Camden Market and Harrod’s and Selfridges and went out one night with our good friend Kim, exploring the local pubs.

 

I had lovely meetups with friends who live in London, including New York friends and some friends I made at Nora’s wedding in November – Natasha and Pritish. We went out for a delicious vegan feast at a local place called Manna. It was delish and great to see these wonderful women again!

Soon I got a visit from Mary Caton, in London for a conference! What a treat to have double doses of my besties! All we were missing was Nora, who was due to have her first child any day – and did, not long ago! A joy to know that she and her beloved Anders have brought baby Jack safely into the world and their lives – all our lives! I can’t wait to meet him! MC and I had several afternoons together to roam and eat tasty meals and drink delicious drinks and just enjoy London before my classes start. She was staying very near to UCL and it was nice to show her my campus and my neighborhood. We had one last night together in Camden Town and enjoyed ourselves before going to rather early bed, as I was coming down with a cold and she had to catch a noon flight back home.

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MC in town!

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The Handel – Hendrix House

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Bloomsbury beauties!

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The Horse Stables Market

Since she left, I have been working on reading and school stuff in general with some nights spent reading at a local pub, mingling with the townies. London is a friendly town, in many ways. I’ve been drinking tea and cider and visiting my local charity shop, Mind in Camden – which I am sort of in love with. I visit on days when I do have classes and often find just what I need for my little flat – a silverware holder for the dish drier, a teapot, pepper grinder, framed print of Victorian England, crystal fruit bowl, silver serving tray – even a laundry hamper from a rather shi-shi store. I’ve also been to Brick Lane market several times and really enjoy looking through the flea-markety tables in one area – they also have some Turkish tiles and bowls I’ve been thinking about ever since I decided not to buy one!

I have gotten to go to some lectures and an exhibit about the Scythian people I have long been interested in – an excellent exhibit at the British Museum of artifacts and many textiles. It was right up my alley.

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In the Park studying on a sunny October day

Friday was my 36th birthday, which I intended to be a gathering of friends (plural), but ended up a night out with my singular friend Vilde. We volunteered together in Molyvos, on the island of Lesvos, and it is good to be able to swap stories and memories about our experiences, as it was such a surreal time.

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Birthday cider!

After dinner and pints of cider (and a few more pints), we headed back to my flat for a couple of Red Stripes and I read her tarot cards. It was a very powerful reading and really full of information about some major changes coming up for her. I hadn’t read anyone’s cards in a while and it felt good to do it – like visiting an old friend.

I thought to treat myself to finishing off my new Philip Pullman novel or watching something on Netflix, but I was both hungry and tired, so I heated up some leftovers and ate them as fast as I could and then went pretty much straight to sleep.

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The Book of Dust! Already devoured it!

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A red sun during a recent hurricane induced dust storm

Fridays are the most exhausting day, as I have class from 11-1:30 and then again from 3-4:30. I was out like a light, but awoke rather early this morning, feeling compelled I suppose, by the sunlight through my little window. I have had vivid dreams lately, in my London bed. Hard to tell what they signify, if anything, outside of my own desires and questioning.

I am of two minds – that of moving forward and past what’s passed and toward all that is new and promising, and that which reflects and looks back, that which still appeals to me, like a call I hear off in the distance. Is it just an echo, fading, or is that persistence a sign of something that is still pertinent, valuable, remarkable?

I must admit, I cannot tell. My heart still dwells on an old amour, yet I am simultaneously sure that I’ve gone down this road before and it led me to darkness, sadness, and despair. I thought I did my best to sift through the ashes of that old burnt out affair to make certain nothing was left to salvage. I tried to test those waters, just to make sure there wasn’t a baby hidden in that bath before I tossed it and moved on. It seemed that there was no “there” there. There, there, little heart. She heals but slowly and sometimes there is a need to return to the scene of the deed just to verify that it’s done.

I suppose I should read the cards for myself and see if they have any light to shed on me. It is funny how sometimes I encapsulate so many different things inside one being. Parts of me tend to stay hidden, though unintended messages surface. I cannot quell the part which whispers of the mystical and inquires after curiosity, clings to the arcane and eschews merely mundane explanations.

I love looking after mysteries, but still I remain one to myself. Often, my desires take aim and fire before considering the repercussions. I fell before without concerns for where I’d land, and ended up a heap when my trust fall failed. I don’t want to be untrusting, but not do I want to be a heap.

I keep thinking about the story of Eros and Psyche. It came up in classes at the Carl Jung Institute in Manhattan. Psyche falls for Eros without really knowing or understanding who he is, and on the condition that she not attempt to look at him. Everything’s happy until, encouraged by her (jealous) sisters, she peeks at his sleeping face and sees that he is beautiful, but she wakes him with dripping wax or oil and he runs away.

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Eros and Psyche

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A pot depicting Aphrodite, Eros and Psyche

She then spends years looking for him everywhere and ends up at his mother’s house – Aphrodite in the Greek myths but she hearkens back to the old Mountain Mother, who’s priests were castrati. With Eros imprisoned inside her castle like Rapunzel, Aphrodite assigns Psyche to complete four impossible tasks, which she eventually does, with help from different animals. Still, she is defeated by a trick of Aphrodite: Psyche is sent to retrieve a certain box from the Underworld – a place of no return – and told that it contains the elixir of youth. She is warned not to look inside the box, but as before, she goes against instructions, because she just has to know. Instead of eternal youth, she finds eternal sleep inside the box and passes out for good until her beloved asks Zeus to revive her.

Eros and Psyche end up happy in the end, but it is a story which carries both historical and allegorical seeds which fascinate me. The tale of her descent into the Underworld makes me think back to the story of Inanna’s descent into the Great Below, her deep sleep is the parallel for Inanna’s death at the hand of her sister, Ereshkigal, who smites her with the “eye of death” and hangs her from a meathook. Like Psyche, her curiosity, her desire for power, have led her to a state of unconsciousness – death of the soul. The butterfly struck through, stuck to a velvet lining.

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Psyche taking a close look at her love – notice her butterfly wings

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Inanna Queen of Heaven

But in Inanna’s story, her lover is not faithful – he was not the one to plead to Zeus for his beloved – it is Inanna’s friend, Ninshubur, who goes to ask for help. She is the one who keeps vigil for Inanna, while her beloved seems unconcerned with her disappearance, even sitting on her throne. When Inanna returns, she is angry with Dumuzi for his lack of faithfulness. There was a price to be paid for her return, and Dumuzi, through his betrayal of his queen, has earned himself a place in the Great Below. Through an exchange, he would return seasonally and bring the green of spring along with him,  – and when the seasons turned the women would weep for him, gone again to the Great Below, leaving the Queen of Heaven alone.

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Inanna

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Inanna and Dumuzi

Three years on and I’m wondering what, if anything has changed? The day after my birthday was the three year anniversary of the last time I saw the man I was in love with in Camden. I happened to see him again, the day after my birthday. It didn’t occur to me to mention it

Love and miss and happy Halloween! I’ll leave you with a pic of my pumpkin and my recent altar for the New Moon. Nice to have my flat feeling homey!

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Kira

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Birthday Wish

It’s been a weird stretch of time for me, since September when I moved into my temporary but cozy home here in Seattle. I’m staying with a friend-of-a-friend in a house south of the city about 15 minutes (with no traffic, which is rare). It’s just what I was craving – a fireplace, a yard, laundry in the basement and cheaper than New York. I’d thought before moving to Seattle that it would automatically  be cheaper than Brooklyn, because, really, how could it not be? Imagine my surprise then, when I arrived to find a city with rents skyrocketing from the recent tech boom.

It was through the grace of my good friend Jenna, whom I met traveling in Rajasthan ten years ago (! My, how time flies), that I met Jenn, my housemate. Jenn is very fond of rosé, as am I, and I got to enjoy the back yard in full fruit – a massive grape vine full of purple grapes that hang in heavy clumps, more than we can eat, even with the birds and squirrels helping. I harvested some, as well as some leaves of the right size to make dolmas (dolmades, as the Greek say).

Jenn has clear blue-green eyes, not unlike mine, but bluer where mine go green. She’s blond and pretty, which makes an interesting impression on people, because she probably defies most presuppositions. I like people with hidden depths. We have spent several long chilled evenings by the fire, drinking wine and chatting, or sitting on the patio on pretty days. Traversing the beginning of September is always somewhat challenging, and then it’s gone and October is nearly done, now, too. But not before my birthday.

I hate to say it, but I think I’ve come to dread it. It isn’t my fondest anniversary, in fact. Age is immaterial – it isn’t the issue. Aging is better than the alternative! But since 2014 my birthday has become something of a painful reminder, where it used to be rather a joyous occasion. I loved my sleepovers and parties, dinners and gatherings.

I have to admit to melancholy. Maybe it is momentary – a sense that I was so close to having what I wanted. A sense of the passing of time. I’ve been immersing myself in ancient history of late. Somehow I’m as passionate about it as I am about this sham of an election, but I can’t even get into that here.

Funny, I just teared up a bit, listening to my new favorite local radio station, KBCS. And then the song “Can’t Cry Anymore” by Sheryl Crow comes on, taking me back to high school when I would drive around to her CD – I think I had the single. When you grow up in the styx (sticks?), you take what you can find.

I wonder if everyone has that one person they thought they would find eventually? That ideal person you kind of feel out there. I thought I met mine, 10 years ago or so.

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Fresh-faced moi on the train in India, heading north to Rajasthan with my three French boys, met on the set of the Bollywood film.

In fact,  I remember walking around in Mumbai, flooded with the feeling like I was going to meet the love of my life. I had no real idea who it could be, since I didn’t know anybody in Mumbai, but I guess you never know who you’ll meet before you meet them. That is the kind of magic of other people.

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The Bollywood recruiter who hired me for my first gig.

Someone did enter my life, the very next day. We met early in the morning, in front of McDonalds in Colaba – we’d both been dabbling as extras in Bollywood and were waiting for someone to come pick us up, but they never showed. Instead, the two of us wandered around Colaba and wound up by the Gateway to India, playing my guitar and talking till the early morning. Then we went 8 years without seeing each other again. I know we both lived in each others’ minds and hearts, though we both fell in and out of love with other people in the intervening years. In August 2014, we met again, and fell in love for real, or so I thought. Others thought so, too, and remarked on how in love we seemed.

But like all modern romance, it was complicated. Now it’s nearly two years to the day since the last time I saw him. An unfortunate memory to coincide with my birthday. I’m rather strong in the memory department, for better or for worse. It is hard to believe that it is just two short years ago – yet so much can happen in that amount of time.

I wanted so desperately not to be heart-broken again. It seemed such an ignominious ending after that magical Mumbai beginning. I wanted not to mourn as I am sometimes inclined to do. But of course I have. I lost him as a person from my life, but I also lost the fantasy I had that we would travel and explore together – build life into some new, exciting, complete shape. I lost the idea that I had found someone who unquestioningly, instinctively, chose me for me.

I suppose I was waiting to hear that it was all a mistake. That he regretted wedging me out of his life. That he still thought of me.

I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t hold my breath.The sad thing is, I’m not even sure what happened to us – he never deigned to clarify, so I am left to guess.

Meanwhile, one of my nearest and dearest is getting hitched in a week! I can hardly believe it’s nearly November, but I can’t wait. Nora and her Scandinavian beau are tying the knot in Sonoma and we’ll all be together soon. Life moves on.

Ah well, a new year is upon me. A new year to be more fully myself and maybe even find someone who appreciates me for it. Wouldn’t it be nice?

I’ll make that my birthday wish.

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Well, since my birthday is now officially over, I’d better wrap this up!

Love and miss,

Kira

Happy Birthday to Me?

It’s strange. Last year when I was in London for my birthday, I learned a lot about myself, though I came to regret staying there as long as I did. While it didn’t do my relationship any favors, it did show me how I re-enact my mother’s rejection of me on my birthday, creating situations in which I feel somehow hurt or slighted, especially as it relates to food.

Funny, throughout my childhood, my parents would always make whatever sort of cake I wanted (they owned bakeries); I always had big slumber parties and lots of fun. My high school sweetheart and I kissed for the first time the morning after my 16th birthday party. I’ve had so many good birthdays. But last year was one of several I’ve had where I attempted to spend my birthday with a partner and things do not go well.

Once I flew to Sarasota for my birthday, to be with an artist I (thought I) was in love with, only to find it felt all wrong. He wanted the fantasy he’d built of me from a distance, and vice versa. In reality, he was shorter than I recalled, his voice more effeminate. I was not the submissive he’d imagined. I found out about his new gf on good ol’ fb.

A couple of years ago, I met a Spanish artist (pattern? ha!) and we decided to take a roadtrip to Niagara and Toronto together around my birthday. On the day itself, he sweetly brought me flowers and earrings he bought for me. But during the trip, we got in little bickering fights, which escalated on our last morning in Toronto. He didn’t like where I had left my boots. Sigh.

Last year’s brief but intense relationship – with someone I thought of as an old friend, perhaps erroneously – forced me to look at many issues related to my mother and myself. In most ways, I’d say I’ve been able to find a positive outcome. I’ve had to look long and hard at myself and examine what seems to set off my sensitivities related to my birth.

Last summer, I went to a hypnotist for the first time, wondering about a fearfulness and lack of confidence I sometimes felt. Through the course of the session, I remembered that it was the moment of my birth when I was emotionally wounded. I don’t, of course, have any conscious memory of the moment, but I think the scar from such an early, elemental trauma, stayed hidden underneath all the happy birthdays that came later. I don’t blame my mother, because I know there are times in our lives when we simply cannot control our reactions – when we cannot reign in our sadness at a reality different from what we’d envisioned.

I’ve not been a stranger to sadness in this life, though I’m certainly no Job. But depression hit me hard in my teens, and I felt it in college, too. As an adult, I’ve been fortunately even-keeled, though last winter was a test of my equilibrium.

This year, I’ve done little to ring in the new cycle of the sun. I worked at local costumed sex party, reading tarot cards as a gypsy.  I’m hopeful for a clearer future ahead, with the ghosts of the past laid to rest.

Regardless, I see the purpose of the past, or a glimmer of it, anyway. It isn’t at all like I once hoped, but then I wouldn’t have made the choices I did if the stakes hadn’t seemed so high.

I have now officially outlived my big sister, Erika, who died at 33. I always followed in her footsteps, but it’s been four years now, since she took a step. I’m older than she will ever be.

Erika loved “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott. I wish, in a way, we’d grown up in those more civil times.

Erika was good at bringing that sense of magic into family situations, especially as she got older and Christmas became more about giving than receiving. I’d like to be better at bringing that magic home with me, sharing it with my family.

As a baby, I had no control over my situation and surroundings. It is common for Americans to assume that babies are unaware of their surroundings – that they can see little and understand even less. But we are highly attuned to facial expressions, eye contact, loving vocalizations, touch – it behooves us to realize how much these things affect a child’s brain development, if we ever think of having children ourselves, or if we want a greater understanding of our own makeup.

Here’s to another year of learning – let’s hope this year’s lessons are of the gentle variety.

Love and miss,
Kira