Have you ever felt like the whole wide world would never be big enough for you?
You’re so hungry for it, you eat up every square inch you can find: streets, monuments, wine bars, neighborhoods. The way the dandelion grows differently, over here. The way the people take just a little bit longer to greet you when you walk into a restaurant. You feel like you’re staring at an alternate version of yourself, had you been born French, as you examine the fabric on the dress she’s wearing, and the type of shoes she picked, and the way she does her hair and the way she says “right this way.” The way she walks. The way she smiles. The way she hurries through the specials of the day, but lingers when it’s time to talk about wine. Her family owns the winery, she says. This year was very special. They named it after her.
I thought these things in Saint Émilion, France, while we waited to be seated for lunch at Les Giron'dines. I have thought these things many times, in many places. I am always wondering what it would be like to try on someone else’s life—to be another version of yourself in another place and time.
Would I be happier? Thinner? More free?
Would I have family? And lovers? And a creative itch that only paint can satisfy?
Would I buy myself flowers, and linger under sheets, and lazily wake at ten o’clock, with the kind of hair that shimmers into place with a comb?
Would I text my girlfriend, Amélie, about the boy who came into the pastry shop, again, with the eyes made of saucers and the voice dripping with honey?
Would we giggle? Make plans? Take her 2-year-old daughter on a walk through the cobblestones every afternoon at four?
Would we eat vanilla custard, rich with egg, and let the sunshine bounce off our vintage-printed scarves?
Would life be more simple here?
Would I be more simple here?
Or, would I long for more—for a version of myself that was a grand, daring business woman, traveling round the world, writing on the internet, rallying courage and cash and creativity; a person of deep empathy and dry wit and rich interests, with a big, buoyant, effervescent laugh, forever seeking out the perfect lipstick and flat?
That is my real life. (Most of the time, except I look like shit in red lipstick.)
Sometimes I forget it can be just as romantic, when viewed through the right lens.
But, it doesn’t prevent me from dreaming about every other version of a person I could be, an endeavor I view as creative as any other form of art. To place yourself into a new life; to let your mind wander; to let those things you want inspire you to edit your future constantly, eternally.
Because we can, you know. We can edit our lives. We can add more travel, more time, more leisure, more love, more novels, more espresso, more bookshops, more white linen dresses. We can add more creativity, originality, curiosity, thoughtfulness, playfulness, and a hell of a penchant for aged grana padano. (CHEESE. CRYSTALS. FOR. LIFE.)
I think it’s easy to forget, though. Easy to assume you’re a permanent structure. Easy to think that how things are now is how they are. Easy to think you are in read-only mode, now that you’ve become set in your ways.
But nothing is ever set in any way.
Everything is always changing. For you to stay unchanged is an impossibility of the greatest order. Therefore, to relinquish any control over the way you change seems foolish.
Add the adventure!
Add the spunk!
Add the attitude!
Add the fucking nerve!
We’re one of the most adaptable organisms on the planet, though you’d never know it.
Sometimes I wonder just how much of life is being missed.
Sometimes I wonder how much it hurts, just standing there in place, thinking the world is much too big.