"I AM CURRENTLY AT LIBERTY." was the response Cristina had when asked what it was she does, but had no official preoccupation to respond with. For myself at the moment, I guess I could say the same. "I am currently at liberty." For the first time in my life.
But that's now. 5 months ago, I'd have shuffled and scrambled and sobbed and stressed over a simple question of "What do you do?" because 5 months ago, I shuffled and scrambled and sobbed and stressed about the implications of my move to Barcelona; implications that felt like they required for my every paradigm to crumble down into a million unrecognizable pieces.
I had always lived a life built around specific standards and time frames; of taking up this course and graduating on that date, of working this job by this point and earning that much by that age. I had lived strictly as scheduled, straying ever so rarely. Nursery from 1987-1988. Kindergarten, grade school and high school, 1988-2002. Summers spent at theater. Week nights at ballet, piano, voice. University, 2002-2006. Advertising, 2006 onwards.
Then all of a sudden. Liberty. No schedules, no standards. Tabula Rasa. An entirely fresh new start, from finding a new place to live, bank and grocery shop, down to finding a new place to get a keratin treatment. All in a new language too. Pair that with a bleak and riotous period for employment and I'm left with nothing but the frightening freedom of doing as I please.
Accustomed to measuring life by achievements, I was terrified of the de-structuring and re-structuring I needed to undergo. The thought of having no fixed career to fulfill and no set standards to live up to worried me through the Christmas holidays, unknowing of the wonderful gift that awaited me once I had moved. And moved on.
Removed from my strictly-scheduled life, I've gained the time and the freedom to do things I otherwise never would have. There are new achievements in place of old ones, but more than that, there are milestones and a broader gauge for growth. And the obscurity has accommodated some clarity, in recognizing that there are many different ways to live; my old life was one, this is just another, with both lives retaining Jaime and the pets as comforting constants. Wonderful comforting constants.
If I could go back 5 months in time, I'd tell myself to oh my god, relax. With a change of life comes a change of mind. The sooner you embrace that change, the happier you'll be.
So, yes. I am currently at liberty. And I am happy.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona, 2008. Directed by Woody Allen.
Locations featured, from top: breakwater at Port Olímpic, La Pedrera/Casa Milà, Parc Güell, Hotel Casa Fuster, Las Ramblas, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, La Sagrada Família, Fundació Joan Miró and Finca Güell.