Do you want to change your life? Change your scenery.
As I get ready to fly back to NY, I'm already feeling fear set in. I want these good feelings and blazing insights from my past month or so in Europe to ride on.
I remember the state I was in upon leaving and I don't want to go back to that place.
Flash back to San Francisco, close-up of me, on my bedroom floor.
Full on grief had set in. It was as if I was facing everything I lost only a few months earlier plus the "new" stuff too.
My grandma passing.
My dog, Luna, being really ill.
The end of my 8 year relationship, business and home in NYC.
Now boyfriend number two wanted space (and lots of it) and I was let go from my job.
I was in a state of complete shock.
If you asked me how I got from San Francisco to New York, I couldn't tell you. I had cried for almost 2 weeks straight, stopped eating and all bullshit aside, if it wasn't for the kindness and support of friends and family, I have to wonder how much longer I'd have stayed on my bedroom floor in a puddle of tears, alone.
Upon arriving to Buffalo, I was greeted by a house full of love and three, excited pups.
My mom embraced me.
I could feel the mix of gratitude, heartache, concern and joy to see me swirl around her. "Thank you for coming home," her eyes said.
They had bought some of my favorite foods: Orange Milano cookies, lobster tails from Wegmans and fresh asparagus.
"You could stand to put a bit more meat on your bones," she would later confess to me.
I sat at the dinner table as they buzzed around in their normal way, chattering on about their days. It was pitch black outside, the kind of darkness that makes you wonder where the sun goes to at night. The kind that reminds you of just how shitty and lost you feel inside.
The crisp Buffalo air acted as an uncomfortable reminder of how far I had traveled, and how unfamiliar any feeling of home had become.
"Where the fuck am I," wondered.
But I was silent.
I knew I had a long way to go and that this was just the beginning.
I started by changing things on the outside.
Everything else was too painful to look at. I couldn't stand a face-off with the internal landfill, yet, although the unmistakable scent of discarded dreams, soul carnage, and dried-up tears were ever present. I didn't know where to begin or have the strength about me to rummage through it anyhow, so I began with what I knew my heart would welcome...
Rome: my soul's true home.
After a little less than 2 weeks in Buffalo, I hopped on a plane to Rome, Italy. Thus began the external journey.
A change in scenery and the chance to be on my own helped to quiet the thoughts in my head and the super-charged emotions in my body so that I could finally tune in and hear me.
Yes, the sweet, gentle notes that come from joy and inner silence. And equally loud, if not louder, the voices that sound off bodily neglect and emotional trauma.
I had ignored my health and this was the price for re-entry.
Being in Rome wasn't all a walk in the park. With some distance between me and the events leading up to it, I can begin to see the wisdom in my time there.
I ate obscene amounts of gelato, pasta and limoncello. I ran in the park behind my house daily and that park, by the way, is epic. My private loft? To die for and the weather... well San Francisco can suck it. I made some amazing friendships and began #the100dayproject there.
But Rome was also a time of cleanup. I arrived with a heavy heart in hand and intentionally spent most of my time alone, which led to lots of reflection. And while reflection is great, it's also confronting.
Angels showed up every step of the way.
I'm teary eyed as I write this, standing in line for United, waiting to check in.
One of the beautiful things about losing everything, and I say everything with an air of impermanence, is that if you're open to it, or forced into it even, you begin to see how you're cared for. You begin to notice the benevolence and abundance around you.
Not being able to care for yourself invites the people in your life, and even strangers, to stand for you.
And people have been giving me a fucking standing ovation. In my worst state, my lowest low, my "Lauryn, can you really, possibly cry anymore?" kind of state, God showed up in droves.
My landlord, Ceti, a woman who just happened to accept my Airbnb request, fed me almost daily. As her daughter, Fabiana, brought me to the train station on my last day in Rome, she confessed to me the reason for the food. In true Italian-mama-style, her mother was genuinely concerned for me and my lack of eating.
She could see that I was sad and in general, a woman traveling on her own in Rome is still seen as strange. Thus, she took it upon herself for almost two weeks to plump me up and include me in family outings. And believe me, I ate... a lot.
Ceti, Fabiana and the Cittipelli family: if you're reading this, know that I am forever in gratitude to your kindness and selflessness. I consider you family. Dogs too.
To all my angels: thank you times 1 million.
You guys are reason alone to celebrate life.
Special shoutouts to some folks below:
Hayden, Sohrab<3, Carlotta, Gabrielle,the Cittipelli family, Vera, Laura, Amber Rae, Andrilisa, Ishita, Tobi, the German/Ethipian family I met last night on the bus, the hotel staff in Baden-Baden, the old man at the trail head...
My family: Mom, Dad, Chrissy, Julia, Christen (truly, thank you), Luna, Sophie, Armando, Melissa, Matt and Sharon.
Lyft: Ben, Cassie, Cal, Katie and the original A-team.
And to all of you who have liked my Instagram/Facebook posts, shared helpful insights and sent your love to me, know that I have felt it.
Thank you for being on the journey with me.