Broken Up, Not Broken

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Broken Up, Not Broken

I have been keeping a secret from you for some time, and now I can finally tell you.
I am on a plane from Athens to London, a bit thirsty, recovering from a cold, sitting next to the window on Isle 22.
I had a few days off in between jobs, so on a complete whim, I decided to book tickets to go to Greece. I booked them on a Friday, and by Monday I was sitting at a dining table across my dad and his partner, biting of a slice of bread when I said to them: ‘I have two important bits of news for you. The first, I got a new job’ I said, and they smiled and congratulated me and asked me a few questions about the new job, and where it is, is it closer to home, is it more money, etc, etc. Then they paused and looked at me for the next part.
‘The second‘, I gulped, fixing a smile on my face, ‘is that I broke up -well, break up sounds so harsh- I am no longer in a relationship with S’. Their faces dropped, and their eyes met briefly before flickering back at me. ‘What do you mean?’ They asked.
And here is what I meant: I am no longer in a romantic relationship with my partner of 10 years. We love each other, but we are not in love with each other anymore. This did not happen in a day, it happened gradually, as did the break up. It is weird to call what we went through a break up though, because nothing broke – this gave me a better understanding of the much ridiculed conscious uncoupling term popularised by Gwyneth Paltrow. We were not a couple anymore, but we are still G and S, soul mates, co-travellers, connected human beings with ten years behind them and a deep love for each other. We are family, and even though we are not together as a couple, we are a couple of best friends.
It all happened really amiably. We were at a park, walking, and we both knew that something was not going right. We knew that first when a friend mentioned that after ten years you either get married or break up, and we both joked that breaking up sounds more likely than getting married. That evening we both picked it up at home; why?
We then spent a few weeks reevaluating our relationship. The romantic ‘take your breath away’ element had long disappeared, and was replaced by a lovely intimacy and familiarity that wrapped us like a warm blanket. We both found though that sometimes this blanket became suffocating, and even though most of the time was great, it was not enough.
So we thought of everything: taking a break, opening our relationship, going to couple’s counselling, getting married, breaking up, pretend nothing happened and keep going – and we went on to try a few things; sitting on the park bench, we looked at each other’s eyes, and be both knew. It was over. My eyes filled with tears, and soon we were both hugging tighter than we ever had, and were crying into each other’s arms – even at our breakup we were there for each other (and as I am writing this I am welling up again).
So, we picked ourselves up, went back home, and kept living our lives together, just not as a couple.
Telling our friends was a bit of a nightmare. Initially we would start the discussion with ‘we have something to tell you’ which would be greeted by ecstatic ‘OMG you are getting married‘. So, we changed this with ‘there is something you should know’ (same response), ‘something has changed in our relationship (did you get married?)’, and finally ‘guys, we are no longer together‘ (that seemed to do the trick). The responses ranged from shock and awe, to tears and anger. ‘How can you guys not be together? This is unacceptable‘ they would ask, as we would end up comforting them for our own breakup.
We made it clear that there is no side choosing, no hard feelings between us, no animosity or pain or grudges. There would be no trash talking or Celine Dion & tubs of icecream needed (although always welcomed).
Soon, S started dating (it took me a bit more time, simply because dating scares me a bit), and we would spend our evenings dissecting dates, and as soon as I started seeing people as well, comparing the cringiest dating moments (I win every time). This of course was a bit hard to swallow for some of our friends, as they could not understand how we were not jealous of each other. A friend during a coffee starting bashing S for telling me the details about his date, and being insensitive. I corrected her, and said that I am not jealous, because we are no longer together. We had not been together that way a long time before we broke up. Our relationship had turned to friendship and we were not admitting it. Of course there are moments that are prickly, but they are like that because they are firsts; after a while it becomes normal. Of course I want S to find a partner, and I genuinely hope he finds someone that appreciates how amazing, kind, and loving he is.
So, there was one thing left to do. Tell my parents. Telling them I was with S was a battle in itself, now I had to tell the I was no longer with him. I wanted to tell them first before I wrote about it here, because I did not want them to find it out on a blog. I did not even want to tell them on the phone. I wanted to tell them in person, so that they can see that I was ok. Greek parents have a tendency to fear the worst, so they would have imagined I was a nervous wreck, sitting in the dark drinking from a bottle and listening to love songs on repeat. Me being there with a bright smile showed them that this was not the case.
Telling my dad was difficult, however telling my mum was surprisingly touching. I always knew my dad loved my partner as a son (something that made me tell him about our relationship a lot easier). However my mum surprised me when her eyes watered as I told her. ‘You know I always loved you two together’ she said, and I had to really hold myself from crying as I said ‘I know'; because I didn’t. So after a few more moments, she realised I was ok and we moved on. The next day she called my brother in a state of panic and demanded to know the truth about our breakup – some things don’t change.
So, here I am telling you. The cat is out of the bag. I am single again. After 10 years. S was my first boyfriend, my first true love, and my soulmate and now he is my best friend. The last time I dated there were no apps, no Tinder or Grindr or Scruff, there was no swiping right or woofing to a profile. Now there is; and I am getting to grips with it. I want to date. I want to discover myself. I don’t want to jump into another relationship. Yes, a little part of my is broken, and the faith in another relationship is shaken. If I could not make it work with S, then who am I going to make it work with? However I know this is a part of me that is hurt, and my goal is to nurture it back to trust. Learn from my mistakes in this relationship, and not repeat them in the next one.
Do you want to know another secret? I am enjoying being single. Maybe because I have been blessed to still have S in my life, as he is truly there for me and I am there for him; but for now it is interesting to see how I am as me, instead of us.
The journey continues. Thank you for walking down this road with me.

Love,

G

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Mulled Wine & Giggles

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I have the giggles. I am in the middle of the Tate Modern Bar, on my third mulled wine (that might explain it), and I am laughing so hard tears are streaming down my cheeks.
I am here with E, and she is in a state of infinite Lols too. I love this moment in time so much. Because even though we spent the last two hours talking about my recent heartache, general changes, life choices, and everything in between, we always have these moments that take us out of the everyday and remind us how it is to just be in danger of peeing your pants with laughter.
We spent a few seconds catching our breath, and then looked out of the window. It gets dark earlier now, but tonight I don’t mind it. It makes London shine brighter, the Christmas market in front of Tate more magical, and this evening truly heartwarming.

I hope you are all having a lovely December, and that you are finding time for your loved ones and yourself. Now, I can hear my 4rth glass calling me :)

Love,

G

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Enough, Too Much, and the Journey in Between

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Enough, Too Much, and the Journey in Between

I’m in the Starbucks at Vauxhall. I just ordered a small skinny decaf latte, which by many measures could be seen as a non-coffee coffee. Sia’s ‘Breathe Me‘ is playing, and it makes my heart want to explode in a million little tears. I feel as if I am holding myself together, keeping all the parts from falling apart, moving forward because I can not face what is back there, remembering that just because everything around me moves doesn’t mean that I am too.
There are times that I don’t feel enough while feeling too much. I feel I am not enough, good enough, handsome enough, with a good enough body or a good enough sense of self confidence. And then I feel too much, too many emotions trying to be processed, too many memories trying to be remembered, too many pains trying to stay forgotten, too much happiness and too much sadness colliding so violently that in the end they both feel the same, intense and scary. There is fear in happiness, there is the birth of something that could be lost, taken away, leaving a void that was not there before.
I am not trying to create a happy ending in this post. I am not trying to sugarcoat it. I feel there should not be a ‘but‘ in the end; but I know there is. Because I know that what I feel now is raw, and painful, and exhilarating, and primitive, and painful, but it is for the best, it teaches me how to be human, it shapes me, it breaks me, and it makes me. I feel like crying because I feel alive, and I feel like smiling because I feel alive. I feel, therefor I feel alive. And there is no journey more be difficult and more beautiful than this.

Everything will be ok in the end; if it is not ok, it is not the end.

Love,

G

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The Yoga Queen of Shoreditch

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The Yoga Queen of Shoreditch

Shoreditch is a melting pot of clashing colours, colourful characters, and characteristic eclectic spaces that make it a truly marmite area: it is either seen as a celebration of individuality where original moments happen every second or the London hipstergatory where original moments came to die a replicated, unoriginal death.
Whatever your stance, you cannot help but marvel at the creative force that shapes the landscape. The walls are canvases, and the pavements are exhibition spaces.
The Yoga Queen is one of the works that caught my attention; an inspired piece by Maupal Mauro Pallotta, it is a tongue in cheek play of words that lights up the whole area, and makes people do a double take when they pass it, leaving a cheeky smile on their face.
It left one on me, so I thought I would share it with you.

Love,

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I’m Learning

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I’m learning. I have been walking on this earth for nearly 30 years, my footsteps circling its circumference a few times, my smiles beaming sun rays, my tears forming vast oceans, my face a map of emotions, thoughts, feelings, fears and desires.
I’m learning. I never said I know everything, I sometimes claimed I know something, I’ve somehow learned when it is time to say nothing.
I’m learning. I am trying not to judge and not fear being judged, I make mistakes and try to make up for them, I am far from perfect, I am far from home, I am far in the distance and close in the picture.
I’m learning. I am growing up. I still feel like a child in a grown up world, in a world I feel I don’t fit in, a world that I am sometimes not strong, or hard, or thick skinned enough.
I am learning. And still, I feel I don’t know enough. I am learning though. I am trying. I will not stop. I will not stop learning.

Love,

G

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A walk in the clouds

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A walk in the clouds

It is not cold and it is not warm. It is a mild afternoon. I am wearing a short sleeved t-shirt, and a pair of black jeans with a belt I am now regretting, mostly because it is too tight and I can not really loosen it in public without looking like a perv.
The noise from the Starbucks I am sitting in is a mix of elevator jazz, an angry discussion in Indian, a passive aggressive discussion in English, and an Eastern European (Polish?) quiet chat between lovers where the looks say more than the words.
I was on a plane two weeks ago. It was mid day, and I was sitting by the window. As we started our ascend, streets became grey grooves, people became dots, and the image started slowly blurring, turning grey, then white, and then we were in the clouds. We stayed there for a bit, and as I started getting a bit anxious, the first rays of sunshine made my pupils contract. I could not divert my gaze; it was beautiful. A carpet of clouds, thick and heavy, spread as far as I could see and I felt like I was walking on it.
I thought of the past few months, and how I felt like I was stuck in a cloud too. Sometimes under, being rained on; sometimes in, vision blurry; sometimes on top, looking at the stars. This reminded me of my guided meditation from Headspace, where Andy says that it is like looking at the sky, and not seeing the sun, because the clouds are in the way. The clouds are the thoughts, and the more you fight them, the thicker they get; however by meditating the clouds slowly clear, and the sun shines through. The sun has always been there, behind the clouds – it was just hidden.
I spent a week in Greece, a mix of family time, me time, and decompression. Time spent wondering what I am doing, collecting pebbles at the beach, reading The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell and stuffing as much Greek food I could in my mouth before leaving.
The trip back was different. There were no clouds, only a clear night sky; even though there was no sun, the earth seemed to glow from the inside, and I felt its glow warm my skin like a hug.
I am now back in London, back to work, back to reality. My tan is fading in days that are not cold and not warm, in mild afternoons soundtracked by Starbucks, in coffee that tastes of cinnamon and memories that taste like home, in electrically charged clouds full of thunder and hope.

Love,

G

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Candy Chang’s Bucket List Wall

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Candy Chang’s Bucket List Wall

Do you believe in bucket lists? Not in the way that you would believe in Santa, or ghosts, or the now classic Book of Mormon tune; I mean, do you- would you do a bucket list?
I think that bucket lists are the optimistic version of ‘what I have not achieved before death‘. It is the glass that is half full, but the person holding it is realising that the room is getting hotter and hotter, and soon enough he is sitting in a sauna with the water dissipating into vapour.
I think I am daunted by the things I would like to achieve before I, you know, passed away. I am not really ok with the notion of death, even though a few years ago I proclaimed that I am totally comfortable with it. I remember during a philosophical discussion that could only take place within the confines of a student residence I said that I thought that death is absolutely normal, the end of the cycle, a part of life, and other Lion King wisdom. Then, my grandmother died, and the concept of her not existing anymore baffled me. I could not wrap my head around it, simply because it was void: I was required to accept the absence of something that was there one moment, and gone the next. I think I was (and still am) perplexed, not so much about the physical side, but mostly the ‘soul‘ side of it. Yes, the body is the vessel, but how, how on earth does this person’s essence dies? It is enormous, and beautiful, and ugly, and true, and fake, and powerful beyond words and emotions, so how can it just stop existing?
I had to come to terms with more losses in the past few years, and I am none the wiser. So as I was on the bus, listening to Being Boiled on repeat, my eye caught a big blackboard by the side of the street. I had walked by that spot so many times, and yet this was the first time I actually noticed it. I got off at the next stop, walked back, and looked closer.
The heading was ‘Before I Die’, and under it lines waiting to be filled. On the side there was a deposit of chalk. I started reading the entries, and there were wishes of wealth, travel and love, moments of humour and droplets of pain. I thought for a moment what I would write; my mind was blank. The only thing that came to mind was an answer that was as cliche as it was true: to live.
I stood and looked at it; there is something intensely powerful about it. The fact that you have to first erase someone else’s entry in order to write your own seemed to have an almost poetic quality, mirroring how sometimes in life, your wishes don’t come true because someone else’s did and how the cheers of your success might be a blanket over the sorrow of someone else’s failure.
I later googled the piece and I found out that it was by Candy Chang, and there are walls like this one around the world. A global bucket list, a chalk board mirror of the human nature, mortality, hope and the invisible threads that connect them. A chalk outline of a life that waits to be lived.

Love,

G

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