This Latest Chapter
“A professor once told me that every cell in our body is destroyed and replaced every seven years. How comforting it is to know one day I will have a body you have never touched.” -Unknown
BY ELIZABETH HALPERN
CHAPTER I: BACKGROUND
As I write this, I am currently living in the seventh city which has earned the title of “home”. In this most recent remodelled version of myself, I am a law student, studying at one of the top law schools in the world. I often wear trousers instead of jeans, silk blouses instead of t-shirts. I blow-dry and straighten my hair instead of letting the wind blow it into its natural unruly self. I pay attention to Uber’s recent CEO appointment instead of reading poetry.
Trying to “reinvent” myself has become somewhat of a habit of mine. I have been aggressively running from myself (and others) for nearly half of my life. The idea of being comfortable has been an anathema, and so I have moved and shifted and constantly challenged my personal status quo. I have lost count of the skins I have shed.
CHAPTER II: CONFORTO IN MY OWN COMPANY
The first attempt at reinvention was at the age of fifteen, when I moved from my home province of Nova Scotia, to the South of Brazil. This was thanks to a scholarship I won, which sent me on a one-year High School exchange. There I learned to kiss and let-go and to find comfort with being alone in public places.
CHAPTER III: GROCERIES
The next shake-up was at the age of seventeen, when I moved to Toronto for Theatre School. There I learned what true friendship meant, how to grocery shop for myself (still learning actually), and just how disappointing men can be (shout out to the T.O. dudes).
CHAPTER IV: I HATE VANCOUVER
Then came Vancouver at the age of nineteen, where I moved for love, of course, and the hopes of making it as a famous actress. There I learned what being cheated on felt like, that in fact I did not want to be a famous actress, and that Vancouver is a terrible city.
When I met Him at 20, I was still living on Canada’s West Coast. I was working as a musical theatre actress and professional Cheerleader, and making my money at a wine bar which required me to wear high-heels during my eight-hour shifts and come to work looking “red-carpet-ready.”
He was in town for business and we met through a mutual acquaintance. No kisses were exchanged that first night. Just laughter.
Six months later I moved to London, England. Again, of course, for love.
CHAPTER V: LOVE
In that incarnation of myself, I was a 21-year-old girl who was utterly, madly in love in a way that is perhaps only possible for someone who has discovered true love for the first time. I worked 52-hours per week as a waitress in Soho in order to make ends-meet, and every three weeks I would travel to whichever European city was cheapest to get to with RyanAir. I made the final decision that I no longer wanted to be a professional actress and applied to a university program in Toronto. I was accepted, which was bitter-sweet, as it meant this beautiful version of myself had an expiration date.
It also meant that Our Time was coming to an end.
CHAPTER VI: BAND-AIDS
He got a wonderful opportunity in New York. I was beginning my new life in Toronto, this time moonlighting as a University Student. Someone who cared about Political Realism Theory over Music Theory and academic lectures over Jazz class. Someone who was single and happy and needed to break-up with Him in order to be present, not someone who was alone and pining over a love that had ended before its time.
I tried to fill the hole in my heart with incredible friendships and mostly succeeded. The four and a half years spent in Toronto turned me into a social-organizer, a feminist, a critical-thinker and a member of one of the strongest tribes of women that I have yet to come across.
Notwithstanding my best efforts- my forays to Rio de Janeiro, Spain, Dubai, Montreal, my many band-aid boyfriends- I could not shake Him. We could not let-go of one another.
Once again, I ran.
CHAPTER VII: UNASKED QUESTIONS
Despite moving as far across the world from Him as is geographically possible, I still look for Him in the arms of others. I date many men, many of them like Him -big and bold and strong- with the hope that maybe in the morning, when my defences are down and I have actually allowed them to cuddle me, they can tear out my heart while I am not looking and replace it with a new one.
One with no memory of Him.
I have found myself across the world from family, best friends and the love of my life and I have brought us to the present, most recently “reinvented” version of “me.” The Me that the 20-year-old version of Me, would not recognise. She may not even like her? And I am stuck wondering if I have taken this run-away-and-start-fresh thing a bit too far?
When I look into the mirror, there is no one to distract Me from Me, and I am still figuring out if I like what I see- my latest incarnation of myself. She is strong, resilient, wise and has amazing stories to tell. She has a favourite cocktail and knows a little bit about a lot of things. But she is also tired, uninspired, hurt, lonely and left with so many questions:
Can I reinvent myself into someone who is not completely in love?
Can I shed the cells of my heart until I regrow one which is not broken?
Can I run far enough away from this love that it loses track of my whereabouts and I will be free?
I hold out hope.
I have tried to run away from this love for Him so many times, for so many years and yet, it always finds me. No matter how hard I try and how far I go, there is one entity that I cannot escape - myself.
I have travelled the world and lived in so many cities searching for that special place that would tear me out of myself, only to find that no matter where I go and how far I travel, it is all the same. People all experience heartbreak, desire, disappointment and joy. Flowers still need water to grow. The Moon still works her magic.
And maybe what I have actually been searching for all along, was the answer to a question I didn’t even know I was asking: Can I reinvent my life, thus reinventing myself?
I think the answer is no.
We can change and grow and learn and explore and experiment and push boundaries and take risks with the unintended goal of peeling back the layers until hopefully we find what we have been looking for all along...Ourselves. And all of the pain and joy and heartache that accompanies us.
We can’t reinvent ourselves, but we can heal and we can grow and just maybe we can open ourselves up to new love by finally closing the door on an old love.
Maybe that is what this latest chapter of my life is for.