Love, Loss And A Cuppa Tea

 
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This is the feeling
No one can ever reprise
I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never new my heart could sing
Never missed a warm embrace
Till April in Paris,
Whom can I run to
What have you done to my heart

I stood in inarguably the most romantic place on earth when the sledgehammer of reality hit me: I didn’t want to be here anymore.

We’d met and moved in together during our travels at the age of 24 and now as we had passed 30, it was a last-ditch attempt to repair things and string our life back together. Admit the ornate architecture and indulgent pastries the truth was there staring me in the face. I did not want this life anymore. I didn't know what I wanted but I sure as hell did not want this.

Somewhere along the lines, I had lost myself. It happened slowly, bit by bit, the way you lose part of a 1000 piece puzzle. You don’t notice it at first, shelving it away and forgetting about it but then one rainy day you haul the box out and decide to put it together again. As the corners and boundaries of the image started to form there are blank spaces staring at you. "Where is that piece of sky? Why can’t I find this part of the fence?  Where the hell is the head of that duck?!?" Confused and frustrated, you dismantle the partly constructed scene, shove it back in the box and forget about it for a while.

You bury that box of discarded pieces so far back into your emotional closet, out of sight, but not so much out of mind. As with anything that you try to tuck away, the memory of it lurks in your subconscious until you one day you open the door looking for something else and it all comes crashing down.

LOSS IN THE CITY OF LOVE

It was here I found myself at the base of the world's most iconic structure in the city of love when I saw my life for what it was. I was living an exciting life overseas in one of the most vibrant cities of the world! I was exploring! I was gallivanting! I was living it up! Or at least I should have been. I wasn’t living at all. I was existing, going through the day-to-day motions of life, not ruffling any feathers for fear of upsetting another. I was tired. I was flat. I was worn out. And I wasn’t going to do it anymore.

 
Jennifer Hulley Travel Writer travel photograhy food photography hamilton ontario
 

I've learned that 95% of being an adult is putting on your big girl pants and making a fucking move when really you feel curling into the fetal position and vomiting. Less than a week later I was back home on Canadian soil. Shell-shocked, culturally disoriented and wondering why the hell the woman at Tim Horton’s thought I was British (all I had ordered was a cuppa tea and a bloody chocolate Timbit). She asked again. I felt nothing. I was numb. Where exactly was I again? Right…at "home" in Canada. Well, fuck.

The moment stretched across my consciousness as it transformed into a slow-motion "this is your life" highlights reel. Past experiences, the happiness, and the pain replayed in my mind as I was finally starting to compute what exactly had happened. That I was actually "home." The requirement to identify a place as home when you couldn't even identify yourself at that moment was a struggle at best. 

I had been stripped to a shell of my former self. Raw, exposed and comprised of only the bare bones of what little personality was left in me. I felt naked, transparent, flaws out for all to see.  After living a life that wasn’t mine, speaking words that weren't my truth, making decisions with another held first, it was unnerving to be back to my own again.

IS IT ME YOU'RE LOOKING FOR?

 Self-transparency, honesty, and bravery became my new modus operandi . Putting yourself out there, in any semblance of the word is not easy. For you see, merely allowing yourself to be seen is in itself a risk and I had become an expert at remaining hidden. Hidden no more, I embarked on a process of getting to know myself. My real self. The bare-bones building blocks of self kind of stuff: my experiences, my hobbies, my goals and my fears. Was it easy? Hell no. Is it finished? Absolutely not.

YOUR BASIC LIFE IS YOUR BEST LIFE

Learning to live with yourself requires that you strip away all the distractions, all the "schticks" we perform, the masks we hide behind. To get down to our most basic ingredients as it were. The concept of the madeleine is simple: raw, honest and transparent. It is the epitome of French culture: refined, indulgent and steeped in tradition. Made from simple and basic ingredients it doesn’t require fanciful decorations to distract you. It is beautiful and worth celebrating because quite simply, the Madeleine in itself is enough. But it does require a bit of attention, care, and patience. Just like you.

They are intended to be eaten only with a "cuppa" tea, dunked  slightly before each bite, a mashup of of French refinement with a British past time. When the French do something, they do it well and so I suggest you pour yourself a warm cuppa alongside of these.

Bon appetit mate!

(To be taken to the recipe click on the image below:)