Updated: Jun 22, 2020
It’s a beautiful day in the Ile de France, and I swear the air smells sweeter in Paris. Never did I imagine I would be a Paris convert, Mais voila, it would appear that I am.
My final stop on this European sojourn is the town of Orléans, where I have an Airbnb that is promised to be absolutely charming.
Going back to New York feels like going to another world, and I guess, in a way, it is.
“The New World,” they called it, as Europeans left their homes in droves to discover what they could. But the world is always changing, the world is always new. Each day, we step into a brave, new world.
I look up and across at the woman sitting across from me. She looks like a singer named Rachael Price, and I’m convinced the world is full of doubles. Maybe one lives in the Old World, while the other lives in the New.
Which one am I?
A couple years ago, I was sent a photo of a woman the sender thought looked just like me. I thought I looked much better, so I didn’t respond (if you don’t have anything nice to say and all that jazz…)
“Did you get my message?” he asked a day or two later.
“Yeah, and I don’t look a thing like her.” I’m much prettier, I added to myself. But if we did look alike, I was certain that she looks like how I did in the past: wild and disheveled. I was no longer that; I was new.
Nouvelle Orléans, New England, New Jersey—the U.S. is filled with New. Maybe that’s why I like Europe so much—it feels old. Grounded—in itself and in its roots.
I am in constant search for my roots.
Déracinement is a phrase used to describe the feeling of uprootedness children of the African Diaspora are kin to. It is the feeling of being untethered while also grasping at the ground, in search for what is no longer there. What has been uprooted.
I used to think there was French in me, but now I’m not so sure. I’m not sure there’s anything in anyone since we’re all just recycled matter. Ashes to ashes and all that jazz…
I had a dream that went something like this: in the beginning, there was chaos. Though everything seemed wild and frenetic, everything had a purpose. I saw the big and the bang, the explosion of light into matter.
And it got me to wondering: what if life, in all its uncertainty, in all of its chaos, was exactly as it needed to be in this very moment?
What if there were no mistakes, and there were no failures? There was no right or wrong? There was just…chaos.
Or what appeared to be.
Everything seemed wild and frenetic, but everything had its purpose.
What if we’re all just balls of energy buzzing and moving, attracting and repelling to bring the Next Big Bang?
What if we are the Next Big Bang? The New Big Bang—co-creators of our very own Universe?
I stop to sip some coffee. Though it’s much too strong, I’m afraid to put sugar in it because I don’t want to lose control because sugar turns into a piece of chocolate turns into a complete sugar binge.
(If you give a girl a cookie and so on…)
Sometimes, when my surroundings seem uncertain, I try to control myself—to plan and box myself into an ordered restraint and I remember that my country was founded by Puritans and ancestral coding is real. Our society loves restraint. The well tamed woman, the hardworking exec, the public school system. The question becomes how can I deny myself in the name of work, in the name of respectability, in the name of ‘success.’ How can I push myself past my own limits, so that I am so mentally and energetically exhausted that I don’t have to face the ways in which I have denied my impulses and desires, and have therefore denied myself?
I ate so much chocolate yesterday, I didn’t know what to do with myself. As the finality of my trip approached, I felt the impending pressure to make sense of what others would have deemed ‘chaotic.’ To make sense of the plans I have yet to make sense of, so my father won’t worry or my old professors would be impressed. I began to acquiesce to the pressure I was anticipating, and so I tried to plan the next year, the next decade, the grand scheme of my life.
I said, I will do this. I will do that. I will not eat chocolate.
Well. I sure showed me.
I tried to control the frenetic ‘chaos’ of my life but only ending up rejecting that falsehood entirely. Because to deny myself chocolate in that moment was akin to denying myself in my entirety. I am a chocolate lover, I am living without a plan; I am chaotic.
But chaos is inherent to our existence; it’s in everything we do. The absence of chaos is not peace, it’s an illusion. Stillness is an illusion.
“In the beginning, everything was wild. Everything was free. Everything was chaos.”
Paris, FR 2018