It felt like it was about to rain. I found myself suspended in those few minutes before the storm, certain about what's next but, instinctively holding onto the present, onto what's known and comfortable. The "just five more minutes” sleep after the alarm clock has rang. Like Tom Cruise, I was hanging from that one stone sticking out of the cliff. And life never felt so freaking binary: is the brutal effort to push myself back on solid grounds worthier than surrendering to the much appealing empty nothingness? Deep inside, I knew this would happen. My intuition was going bananas but I wasn't buying the "trust your gut" shit. Not even once (I'm in love with an engineer). The sad truth is, we never really have the whole picture, there's missing data everywhere. I’ve always been secretly attracted to risk and I do believe uncertainty is what makes our hearts flip. But, I wondered: how much is too much?
My hand slipped and I fell in the metro supervisor's arms or, in other words, my credit card fell into the POS. I was fined 50 euros that morning. The very accurate reason being: “You. Card with photo. Photo, good. No photo, pay”. Damn.
To compensate for this bad event I decided to treat myself to a new pair of long boots, after all, my mind has a PhD in deleting harmful experiences and move on to the next item on the list. Maybe that is precisely why I keep bouncing back to them. I’d pick erasing to confronting every single time. But this was the end of it, I had to act (call 911, this is an emergency). I don’t know if it was the fine, the missing data or my brand new boots, but I was determined to name one fear and confront it. Then and there. Obviously (reckless since 1995) I chose my deepest fear, the mother of fears. The incomparable, inimitable, unparalleled fear of being alone. I’ve always worshiped people on a solo date in restaurants, they seem so powerful and self-sufficient. I fantasized about it, but I never dared: “what will I do between ordering and having my food served?”
I found the most splendid terrace at l'île Saint-Louis and forced myself to sit in the front row (my own particular show at Paris Fashion Week). I didn’t even check the prices. “Wait, should I place my bag in the seat next to me? Is that monsieur looking at me? Oh, he has a moustache, is he looking at me looking at the moustache? Shit.” I found myself in a constant thoughts-making factory, aware of the most insignificant details surrounding me. I closed my eyes in a frustrated attempt to put an end to my rambling, my inner voice was having the time of her life. I waited uncomfortably. There was a dog peeing in a nearby tree, we made eye-contact. My mind was spilling all sorts of surrealist ideas at a vertiginous speed. Thank God the waiter interrupted my silent presidential speech. I wished I could order a friend but I asked for the vegan bowl instead. The waiter left. Back to lonely land.
And then, the most unexpected thing happened. For a couple of seconds, there were no car sounds, nobody was talking, I swear even birds held their breath. Paris was muted. It was like putting on a pair of noise-canceling Airpods, with the yet not invented inner-noise-canceling feature (you’re welcome, Apple). And it felt so peaceful, so right. I belonged there, in that exact place and time. I was moved by the beauty of that moment. I was high in silence. I wiped my doubts away with a broad confident smile and, all of a sudden, I started enjoying myself, the solitude, the space to reason freely, not conditioned by anyone’s opinion. I had no distractions either, so I could face my feelings and take time to appreciate my reactions, my thoughts. My glance traced the silhouettes of citizens passing by, in slow motion. I witnessed the clouds on their last dance with a dazzling sun. I noticed how cold the silverware was and how my touch made it warmer. What started as a raged storm ended up being a mental-health workshop. Oh boy, the things you learn when you let yourself be surprised.
I took the restaurant’s card and gently placed it in my wallet. I might have lost 50 bucks that day, but I gained a whole new me.