“Wear trousers and do the finger in the pocket thing.” This was a text message from Mr. Jules at 8am this morning. 10 words that meant more to me than anything, even all the sparkly bits he has bought me over the years. (For those in need of a visual, it is a lone finger pointing upwards).
There was somewhere I really didn’t want to be, was really not looking forward to a day spent in the presence of someone who turned out not to be the person I thought they were and had disrespected me.
When I read that message I laughed out loud and walked out the door ready to face the day, finger ready.
I was recently published in the F**k It Life Stories Series by John and Gaia. You can get a copy half price by ordering on the link below.
As most of you know in 2010 I made a decision to leave Switzerland for London. Here’s my story – my Fuck It moment.
I saId F**k It and Leapt.
It’s not easy to say ‘F**k It’. It’s not like you wake up one day and say, ‘That’s it, I’ve had enough, I’m off’. Life is much more complicated than that.
There are repercussions that hold us back, that make us feel guilty. Voices in our heads shout ‘What are you thinking?’ Then there are the voices that whisper, that come not from our heads but from a place near to our hearts. If during the chaos of your life in turmoil – because a life is usually in turmoil before a F**k It moment – you manage to find space to listen to those small, kind voices which are being bullied and shouted over by the loud, ugly dissuading voices, then you will start on your path to a F**k It life.
It takes a long time, hours of thought, oceans of tears and buckets of self-doubt before the courage is found and the steps are taken. In my case it meant giving up an idyllic life that had become a gilded cage in a bucolic but culturally sterile environment. I had so much to be grateful for, but somehow I couldn’t swallow and I had problems breathing. I developed a lethargy that numbed my mind. I persuaded my husband and daughter to make the leap towards another life, another city. Despite some initial misgivings from them, everything worked out well and we are all happy following the move.
Luck was on my side. I had taken the F**k It path previously as a young girl when I left my home town and country. It helps to have been there before because the second time around you remember to take a flashlight. You know the expression ‘Leap and the net will appear’? Every time I dare to do something in my life (something that although crazy on the surface means a great deal to me), there has always been a net waiting for me. What I found was the more courage I needed to jump, the softer the landing. And you may even find, like me, gifts waiting.
I honestly believe that god, the universe, the world, life, whatever your belief, expects us to make the most of our time here and that it rewards us when we dare to live to our fullest.
She was born in 1933. We met in the épicerie 10 years ago. She became our dog walker. Having just lost her golden retriever, she fell in love with ours. It was a match made in heaven. She was too old for a new dog and I was too busy with three young children to give Molly the amount of exercise she required. We had a secret code. Dog basket up against the wall = Molly was with Marlyse. If Molly did not return, sometimes for days at a time, I knew she was having a sleep-over.
Marlyse extended her attention beyond the dog basket. Childless and partnered to Milo, her “fiancé” for 30 years, she took a great interest in the children. Many a rainy, dark winter afternoon she would stay after her walk with Molly and chat with me amidst the chaos of homework and dinner time. As a mother of three children I was grateful for the company and she sensed it.
Molly died 18 months ago. Tonight, back in Switzerland for the summer, we invited her over for dinner. On the telephone she couldn’t remember where we lived or who Molly was.
“Bonjour ma belle,” says Sophie taking the tiny bird-like creature into her arms, not flinching at the dramatic change in body composition. I thank the stars for giving me such a sensitive, loving child.
Alexia shows pictures of her horse on her iphone. Marlyse peers at the screen but can barely make out the images so instead remarks on how Alexia has grown.
“You should see her legs.” I say.
“Why?” She replies. ”Does she have three?”
There are wonderful flashes of wit and clarity that you grab hold off, like coming up for air.
Oli introduces his girlfriend and they joke about the army – Marlyse’s first ever boyfriend was a Grenadier – and that conversation goes well.
The past is lucid, the present is more confusing.
At the table we all adjust our eating time to hers until Mr. J. cuts up her meat for her.
She is our friend.
I was recently asked by the publishers of Qatar airlines to write about my favourite street in Geneva for their in-flight magazine. This was the equivalent of asking a duck to take a swim and of course, I over-ran on the word count. Apart from the enormous pleasure, writing it churned up quite a few memories of my first years in Geneva living in my tiny flat in the old town and listening to all the alien sounds of life echoing through the inner courtyard. Life in a european city in those early days, as opposed to my previous life in the countryside of England, was exciting and enthralling (the price for being an expat came later). I miss it, I miss the friends I made – old friends and all that means – and I am lucky that it will always remain a home but I am, undeniably, happier here in London back “home”.
I am constantly amazed by my offspring. At the risk of sounding like a Jewish mother fawning over her pride and joy I am going to say it: I have three high achieving children: A rugby player who played for three years in the Swiss National Junior Team; a dancer who is currently auditioning for the top London dance schools; and a kid who gets out of bed every Saturday and Sunday to look after her horse and competes most weekends.
And this from a mother who thinks that unfurling her arm to turn off the alarm in the morning is exercise. Ever since I watched that recent BBC Horizon documentary on exercise which proved that 20% of humans are non-responders, it all became clear why Mr. Jules can go to one session at the gym and return looking like Arnie the Filandering Austrian and I come back exhausted and flabby. It is very unfair and disheartening to be married to a super-responder parading his toned body fresh from the shower and droning on and on about the benefits of exercise. He poo-poos the Horizon documentary so in desperation I shout “I’m an estrogen bomb okay?!” (That old chestnut). I don’t care, I’m just happy that someone has finally recognized us 20 percent-ers. I now know why I have never, ever, in all my years of jogging, experienced a runners high and why after a year of intensive yoga teacher training I did not get a much wished for six pack or even a one pack.
My idea of a great day is spent in bed with my laptop doing a spot of writing, then perhaps some light reading followed by a doze.
Alexia and Ronnie