In 2008, I read “Eat, Pray, Love” and I loved some parts, like her stay in Italy, and hated other parts, when she found herself hating the life she had chosen. I was just about to be 28 when I read the book and was still young and full of strong ideas that would stay firm until my father passed away unexpectedly the following February. I thought Liz Gilbert was whiny and annoying and lost. But I loved her love for travel and her bravery to go out and find herself.
This past Saturday night, October 13, 2012, I found myself in a few gay bars in Tokyo, Japan celebrating the birthday of a dear friend. The birthday party was selected for this past Saturday because I’d be here and it would allow me to celebrate with my good friend’s friends and enjoy a night out in Tokyo. I am so glad that I was part of the festivities because it was a ton of fun and I got to see another layer of this amazingly interesting city known as Tokyo.
So what’s the connection between the party on Saturday night and “Eat, Pray, Love?”
Well, I left New York City heartbroken, and I still am, but am managing better over all. Leading up to my leaving, I was questioning lots of things: my life purpose, my ideas of love and my future. I was having a complete existential breakdown. What is my purpose and point? Why have I not made more money? Why am I just floundering? Much like Liz, I find myself crying and wondering and seeking something, anything that will remind me of who and what I am.
See, I know my worth and value deep down inside. I’ve just become cloudy. I know that what Mamy said to me that day about having a good feeling about me because I’m a good girl with a clean heart is accurate. Even with my bitchy side and my lack of compassion (mostly to myself), I have a good heart. I want to save the world. And I know that I can. I just can’t jump. Or I’ve felt like I couldn’t jump. Yet, I’ve jumped! I’m in freaking Tokyo, Japan. I’ve jumped, people! Sara, please note that you’ve jumped, because your entire little world of friends and connections and loved ones are watching you with awe and amazement.
And yet that awe and amazement terrifies me! It’s that moment that I had in Istanbul when I seriously might not have gotten on the plane to Moscow. What if I fail? Yes, at least I tried, but what if I seriously failed?!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know I’m strong. It’s why my judgements and opinions are so strong. It’s why I don’t always believe in the gray. It’s why I have a strong opinion on depression. I believe that WE have the ability to change things. At the end of the day, we change things. We make decisions and we create change.
Yet, deep down, deep down, I struggle. It’s a hidden struggle, I think, because I am not necessarily putting out the vibe of heartbroken, uncertain and sad woman. The reality is that I’ve been this way for three years. What led to this point is that I have been looking for something to fix me after my dad’s death. Nobody but myself can fix me, especially when it comes to dealing with my dad’s death.
In regards to seeming normal, I’m talking about my trip and my life when I’m out and laughing. You’d almost guess that there is nothing wrong. And maybe in that the Universe can sense that I need reminders. I have experienced more love than I could ever have imagined or hope to experience in the last two weeks. And it terrifies me that at nearly 32 years old, I need a love boost, but it is what I’ve most needed and what I am the most grateful. It started over two weeks ago when one of my best friends surprised me by appearing at my going away party in New York all the way from Chicago. Talk about surprises! It included two very good friends driving in from New Jersey and one from the Bronx. All four of these individuals surprised me and I hadn’t seen them in months, one in over a year.
Saturday night, we were outside drinking and across the street from the bar there was a store that said, “I am here” and then on top of that “Impact.” I looked at it and said, “yes, Sara, you most definitely are here and will most definitely make an impact. Don’t think about it or question it, just know that that is where your heart is going.”
This came on the heels of sitting in a cab with one of my friend’s friends who turned to me in his drunk state and said, “I really think you coming to Japan to study paper making is brave and everyone is going to love you! They just are!” All of my friend’s friends that night expressed an interest in seeing me again and one even said, “you don’t want to stay in the country the entire time. You should come back so we can hang out.” Another friend as he got ready to leave grabbed my hand and said, “I am so glad I met you. You are a good person, I know it and I will buy your product one day. I know that, too!” All of these conversations warmed my heart and gave me a jolt of the Sara of before and of the Sara that will be after this journey.
In one of the best moments of the evening, as I annoyingly looked up at the TV playing a Drake and Lil’ Wayne music video, this Japanese guy, who was cute, walked passed me and as he passed said, “hi. you’re really pretty” and then walked along to his seat. My friend, Mark, had told me that hiding out in Japan would be perfect for me because Japanese men aren’t the most aggressive and I wasn’t going to deal with what I did in Turkey. I’m kind of glad that that one guy, whether he was gay or not, complimented me. It seems kind of silly and shallow that being told “you’re pretty” from a stranger at a bar would mean something, but it was about the moment. It was about being surrounded by some fabulous gay men in a country I will call home for two months and am still getting a hang of and realizing “I am here.” Those moments matter more than I really have ever credit them. Alas, not any more, it’s part of trusting the process.
The Universe does speak.
P.S. I am leaving in a few short hours by bus to the next leg of the trip: Echizen, Japan in Fukui Prefecture. I’ll arrive early tomorrow morning and the paper making adventure begins. Stay tuned!