I brought home exactly five things form Paris and Barcelona that I can point to:
1. A small postcard print of Henri Matisse's Femme au canapé ou Le divan as seen in Musee de l'Orangerie, now framed and sitting atop my dresser.
2. Black ankle boots from Paris that I wore out of the store because the city was 1. surprisingly cold and 2. very, very wet.
3. A small, brass bangle from a boutique in Barcelona.
4. A blue and white glazed bowl that cost no more than three Euros and sits atop my bedside table with my camera card in it.
5.The bottle that the sparkling water came in on our last night in Barcelona. It is filled with flowers and sits next to that small blue and white bowl as a reminder: to always ask for the sparkling water when out to dinner; to not live my live as a perpetual held-breath in anticipation of vacation or time-off or something-else.
In those ten days I became keenly aware of how much of my life feels like it is on a loop. Wake up, commute, work, rinse and repeat. And because I am not really in the position to leave that loop behind, I am trying to find small ways to carve out more that is just for me. I wake up earlier, leave the house later. I take the tree-lined street to the subway, instead of 116th below it--because convenience be damed. And I buy the fresh flowers and stick a few in the glass bottle that says Vichy Catalan and I slowly--ever so slowly--let go of feeling like there are boxes to be checked, or a strict set of parameters in which life must be lived to be successful. And I store up courage--in feelings and reminders and daily actions.