When living in LA, it is commonplace to see a certain type of sign. It is yellow and black, the lettering right side up, and upside down, paired with arrows, and points cast and crew to the set of a movie, or television show. The word printed on the sign is always different, and pulled from the title of the project.
I was departing the Brentwood offices of my doctor on Wilshire this past August, making my way to my car, when I almost walked smack dab into this sign:
Which was funny, or ironic, or heartbreaking, depending upon how you looked at it, because that’s exactly where I was headed. Technically, in that moment I was headed to my car, and then to Kreation Kafe on Montana (I’m obsessed with their Shiraz Frittata) to meet my friend Jacqui for brunch. One of our last in the near future, because as made official by the paperwork filed just the day before, my husband and I were getting divorced. And, due to this, I was planning to depart in a week, and hide out back East, cocooned by old friends and family, while the aftershocks of this event quaked over me. Because, as those of us in LA and other pesky fault line-laden parts of the world know firsthand, the aftershocks are often more damaging than the initial event.
It wasn’t a decision I came to easily, this plan to brace myself beneath a makeshift door jam that felt a whole lot like taking a step backward: going home. Departing, at least momentarily, from the life and career I had been steadily building for the last five years in Los Angeles. But, there are times when everything is torn down, and the effort it takes to rebuild is so great, your whole self and focus can only remain fixed on that one thing. There is room for nothing else.
But, before you rebuild: first comes the shock, the daze, that surreal place of emotional vertigo. Nothing, you realize, has ever been as it seemed, and you have no idea if when you put your foot down, the floor will be there to greet you. There are missteps.
Have you ever had vertigo? I have once, while on vacation in Las Vegas. I first assumed, as the fun house mirror symptoms set in, with the whomp-whomp of the room expanding and contracting, and the nausea of the motion sickness caused by the one tiny inner ear/brain disconnection, that it was a mild hangover, mixed with the atmosphere of the Wynn’s casino, perhaps all of those red carpeted butterflies. I had to hold onto my then-husband’s arm, because I was finding the floor much farther away, or closer, or a little more to the right than I had intuited, and I imagine I must have looked like an impatient horse, stroking the floor with my foot.
It turns out I was having a reaction to a medication, and the vertigo subsided in a few days. But this time is different. This state of vertigo has lasted three months. Three months and the good part of the year that came before it, if you count the slow trudge toward divorce, as we overturned every stone on the path that had led us in, and now appeared to be leading us out, of our marriage. We were searching to see if the answer would be there. It wasn’t. Or rather, the answer, just like the sign I saw coming out of the doctor’s office was not what we were hoping to find, not what you want to see as you head toward your car, or out of four years with someone to whom you had promised forever.
It has taken three months for me to gain the ability to properly take stock of all that has collapsed, and what is needed to rebuild. It took three months of barely sleeping, mulling, and drinking more wine than is probably wise. Three months of, in so many ways, living uncharacteristically, because I didn’t know for sure where the ground was.
And, ultimately, I found power in the misplaced, if only for no other reason than what I had been sure to be the right path, those concrete guideposts that I followed so devoutly, were wrong. This is what a period of float does to a person. By its very nature, disorientation dislodges you from your reality, and opens you up to something fresh. Some way of being that you couldn’t have perceived otherwise, and when you climb out of the rubble, your foundation has shifted. In most cases, I believe, for the better.
I don’t know where this new path leads, and for the first time in perhaps forever, I am grateful for this fact, and am up for the journey. Because really: what other choice do I have? Perhaps this is the natural resurrection of the Pippi Project. Perhaps this will be a one-off post, and I’ll be back to making croissants and twirling in pretty outfits in no time. My hope is that I’ll be able to marry all of these things into something far more authentic and true and beautiful than I’ve ever been able to before.
All of my love, and appreciation for your support.
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