A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
I recently came across a photograph on an architectural and interior design website which was of an apartment in Paris overlooking the Eiffel tower. At first glance I simply thought, wow, how attractive. Then I paused and looked again. The view was very familiar. So was the interior. Not the decor, but the layout, and the windows. As I perused the other photographs of the property, I realised that it was actually the flat right next to one in which I used to live many eons ago. I hadn’t forgotten that I had lived in Paris, it was just that I wasn’t expecting to see a familiar place, so it took my mind a while to move from exploring the unfamiliar to recognising the familiar.
Several years ago I decided to erase the past from my mind. I had my reasons. Mainly I was very bored with it all, and I just wanted to focus on the present. Live in the now, without interference from the then. But, like with so many plans and ideas, life doesn’t always agree with them. I also blanked out my parents. For a long time I pretended I didn’t have parents. I never spoke about them or my childhood. Then I started writing posts for my tumblr, and now for my WordPress, and a floodgate opened and I just keep blabbing on about the past. It’s been weird for me, I don’t like to dwell on things past because there is nothing I can do about it so it is best to just keep going, yet it has also been very liberating to revisit it. I guess it was time for me to face the things which I have been ignoring. Deal with them from a fairly safe distance, see their influence upon me, how they shaped and moulded me, and… whatever else it has to reveal. I don’t know. I do, but I don’t.
Perhaps it is due to Pluto’s transit of my 4th house, which has caused a resurgence of my past, and has forced me to look at it, and, in many ways, relive it. It could be any number of things, but I have found, to the horror of my inner skeptic, that astrology has a way of hitting the nail on the head when nothing else explains shit to me. To each his or her own. Transiting Pluto has crossed over into my 5th house now, but as it has just gone retrograde, reviewing what has been and tying up loose ends is the order of the day. Which is actually a relief and quite spot on, for me, for now.
I was talking with a friend about the places we live and how they affect our perception of ourselves. Each country, city, town, village, etc, has a specific psychological outlook, as well as a cultural tradition. Our very mood, and thoughts about who we are, and what the meaning of our life is, can be altered by the collective consciousness of the place in which we find ourselves physically. Home decoration is always something we consider in this respect, which is why one of the first things we do when we move into a new home is to make it our own. Add our own touches. Introduce our favourite things and colours. Add or remove furnishings. We know this affects how we feel, but how often do we consider that how we feel is affected by the thoughts and feelings of all the people around us, not our friends, but the strangers who live in the same geographical location as us. And how often do we consider the psychological impact upon us of the country, city, town, etc, in which we choose, or are forced by circumstances, to live.
This idea greatly intrigues me. I even looked up the asteroids for the cities in which I have lived in to see where they are in my astrological chart, hoping to shed some light on the issue for me. I have lived in quite a few places around the world. Some for short spells, others for longer periods. I did not feel particularly connected to any of them. I was just there because that’s where the winds of fate had blown me. One of those places I truly hated. I desperately wanted to escape it, but I couldn’t for many reasons and excuses, depending on how you look at life and the control you have over it. I told myself at the time that I had to live there until I had absorbed the energy of the place, and learned the lesson it had to teach me. Because each place has a certain something which it imparts to those who live there. So I thought that once I had learned the lesson I was supposed to understand and integrate into myself, the place would release me from an invisible contract I had with it and I could move on. Surprisingly, this did indeed seem to occur, repeatedly. So, whether it is real or a fantasy, it kind of proved itself to be true for me. Whatever gets you through life…
So what did Paris teach me. Apart from French. And pouting a lot, shrugging while saying ‘boeuf’. I went to high school there, and thus I also went through puberty. Had my first romantic encounters. My first kiss. Socialised, went to parties, hung out in cafes. I smoked my first cigarette. Got very drunk a few times. Discovered how fashion choices can ostracise you from or draw you into a group. Found how to be both gracious and rude at the same time. Spent a great deal of time discussing the meaning of life, and the pointlessness of it all. C’est la vie. And I also faced a severe crisis point and almost killed myself. Existential stuff. How very Sartre. In spite of its superficial, landscaping and architectural beauty, I found Paris to be a very depressing place. The skies were predominantly grey, grisaille, and would hang over the city like a heavy umbrella for endless days. This is due to the fact that Paris is in a bowl… or something like that. Yet the depressing feel was also very poignantly poetic. It had a certain je ne sais quoi. Long walks along the Seine. Exploring the tiny streets winding through different neighbourhoods. Almost crashing my moped several times, and getting stopped by the gendarmerie for driving dangerously, but let off with a reprimand and a shrug. Crossing the road without looking, because if you look, you’d never cross. A chaotic and fascinating place. Dreary yet lovely. It was a reflection of life, of my life at the time. So much happened to me, in my life, and in the lives of those who affected mine when I lived there, that it is indelibly inked in my soul as a place of intense, sultry melancholy.
Paris, the asteroid, is natally in my 11th house, the house of friends, groups, society etc. When I almost killed myself, it was transiting my 8th house, the house of death, amongst other things. Interesting, non? Peut-etre. Un peu. Pas du tout. Shrugs. Pouts. Je m’en fous!
I adore Paris, but I don’t feel the need to ever go back there. It taught me what it needed to teach me, I absorbed its spirit and carry it with me pour toujours, and so it let me go, with a shrug and an adieu.
So what do you think? Do the places you live affect how you feel, think, and view the meaning of your life?