Invincible Me

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Memories are funny things. Childhood memories can be filled with imagined wonder, or overwhelming pain. And, looking back at my crazy bookworm artist braided hair younger self; I see so much more insight into who I am, and who I am becoming, as an adult.

Looking back, I see all of the laughter, the imagination, the beauty, the pain, the curiosity, the anger and confusion – and I sometimes think I was so much more intact when I was a child. Because, back then, I didn’t worry about being filtered. I laughed and danced because it was time to laugh and it was time to dance, not because I had been told by society to do, or not to do, one or the other.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about when I was 11 years old.

My grandma, who I had only met once, had died and I was laying on my bed, curled in a crescent shape. Alone. And wondering if I should cry. At the time, I suppose it would have been the right thing to do. But all I could do was sit there, curled up, wondering whether I was supposed to do it.

That was the beginning of a pretty unhealthy relationship with tears.

You see, I was raised in a very non-emotional family. We didn’t cry, hug, say ‘I love you’ or talk about emotions in pretty much any other way. We were strong. We were invincible. Or, at least, in my naivety, that’s what I thought.

Over the next decade I didn’t cry. I didn’t cry at sad movies, funerals, when pets died, or when sad things happened in the world. I was invincible. I was strong. Or that’s what I told myself.

I still can count the number of people who have seen me cry on one hand. It’s a pretty rare occasion, and like any natural phenomena it’s usually brief and then gone, like it never happened in the first place. Crying just wasn’t ever an acceptable means of communication in my life.

Then I moved to France.

Americans make fun of the French, a lot, for how emotional they are. And, to a certain extent, those jokes aren’t always wholly unfounded. In my one year in Paris, I saw more tantrums, and crying fits than I had in my entire existence. And I’m not talking about from the kids.

Maybe it was the culture that was surrounding me, or maybe it was the trauma of being alone in a country 5,000 miles away from your next closest friend. But, when I lived in France I cried – quite a lot. In fact, I wouldn’t even say ‘cry’ is a solid enough word. I wept. A lot.

And while it still wasn’t in front of people, and there still weren’t tantrums involved, I think I have to thank France for giving me back my tears.

You see, something I’ve realized, since being back in the US, is how much more emotional I am. When shit is sad, I cry (sorry, for the swearword, mom). When I’m upset, I cry. When I see something heartbreaking in the news, I care…and sometimes I cry.

And while I may not be single-handedly supporting the Kleenex industry (yet), that’s a really big deal for me. But what’s more substantial, in my opinion, is the realization that for so long, I believed a lie.

Crying and caring hasn’t made me weaker.

It has made me so much stronger. I’m able to invest so much more in the people and relationships around me. It has pushed me forward, and allowed me to focus on creating a solution, rather than trying to control the problem.

I hear a lot about people who don’t cry: they’re tough, they’re cool, they’re manly, they’re invincible. But the truth is that we are broken. And don’t get me wrong, that’s not necessarily a bad thing – brokenness builds beauty all the time.

But, speaking from the other side, I’ve learned so much more about my own ability to rise higher, dig deeper and pursue and dream more. There’s something empowering about the ability to cry. In a way, I like to think of it like a phoenix burning. It can hurt to feel pain, and to allow your body to process it. But, in the end, it creates something even more beautiful; something renewed.

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The Letter Of Intent I’d Really Like To Send

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Happy Birthday to the Eiffel Tower, which was dedicated today in 1889!

[ For my Visa application I have to, first, write a letter of intent to the French government. Here is the letter I wish I could have written to them…but didn’t (duh.)]

To whom it may concern (AKA you – why else would you be reading this?),

I am writing to inquire whether or not you will let me into your country. I really want to work there, and I can’t unless you say so. I’d consider myself a pretty awesome person. I’m not trying to steal French jobs, smuggle drugs or run off with one of your men (although, I can’t promise there’s no possibility of that happening). I just really want to learn about French and be completely bilingual, instead of one of those people who says they are and then totally aren’t. Like they know how to say, “Where’s the bathroom?” in Spanish and then , all the sudden, they’ve become bilingual. I mean, come on, what!? Oh…Sorry. I’m rambling, aren’t I? Anyway…

Soooo what do I plan on doing while I’m there? Mainly painting, to tell you the truth. I’ll be working and taking classes, but I really hope, more than anything, that I’ll be able to just sit in a field every now and then and paint the countryside. I’ve heard there are sheep farms where I’m going to be living and, let me tell  you, I LOVE sheep. In addition, there are three adorable children that really need me to take care of them. They’re pretty much the cutest children on the planet and I can’t wait to get to meet them in person, but I need you to tell me I can…or I’ll have to settle for Skype, until I come up with a more realistic plan B than parachuting into your country while dressed in disguise.

As for sanity, I can’t really vouch for myself. I think it takes a certain amount of insanity to move away from everything that’s familiar and everything/everyone that you know and go live in another country for any amount of time. But I am passionate, and driven, and I eat my vegetables and I’m a straight A student. Well, I was…when I was a student. And I will be again! Because I’m totally going to take classes while I’m there and I probably won’t be able to understand half of the things I’m taught, but that’s ok because I’m stubborn and I’ll study harder than anyone else at that school until I’m top of the class – even if it kills me (a death which would be extremely unfortunate since it’s taking me this much effort to get there in the first place).

In conclusion, I really want to come live in your country, and right now it’s pretty much you and the Visa police that have to tell me OK before I can. I’m madly in love with France. I started crying from happiness the other day because I walked past two people speaking French. No joke. That actually happened. I don’t just want you to approve my visa, I NEED you to approve it. Otherwise, I may throw myself off a cliff. Just kidding, that would be dumb. But I might be eternally heart broken and that’s pretty much the same thing – except not…because I won’t be dead.

Anyway, see you in a few months! (Too soon?)

Please don’t deny my application based off of my presumptuous American lack of ability to properly gage my actual ability to make a joke. PLEASE!

Thank you for your time, consideration, and for helping a sista out,

Emilee

[Here’s the letter I actually wrote] Continue reading “The Letter Of Intent I’d Really Like To Send”