Friday, July 23, 2010

On Singing Another Melody

Life inside a music box ain't easy
The mallets hit
The gears are always turning
And everyone inside the mechanism
is yearning to get out
and sing another melody completely
so different from the one they're always singing
I close my eyes and think that I found me
but then I feel mortality surround me
I want to sing another melody
so different from the one I always sing
~ excerpt from The Music Box by Regina Spektor

On my 12 mile run a couple of weeks ago, Music Box by Regina Spektor came on. I really listened to the lyrics for the first time and I nearly stopped in my tracks. I thought to myself - yes - that perfectly describes how I feel.

But I am getting a bit ahead of myself here. Let's flash back a couple more weeks to a dinner with two girlfriends. My best friend was talking about the signatures from their guest book and how much life has changed since they were married in the fall of 2006. People have gotten married. Some have had one or even two children. Some are no longer dating the people they attended the wedding with. The central theme was that so much has changed in the lives of their guests.

I sat there listening to this and said:

"Well, maybe for others, but not for me. I am still signing with the same last name, with no plus one. I am living in the same condo. I am working for the same company. I have a different position, but work with many of the same people. Fundamentally, nothing has truly changed in my life."

Now, I do not want to turn this into a 'woe is me' post... although I was definitely having a 'woe is me' moment that night. I realize that I have so much to be thankful for and have been blessed thus far in life. I have earned my MBA. I have been through career challenges that really tested me and helped me grown as an individual. But nothing has fundamentally changed.

I always try to be honest in this blog - and I must say that as I approach my 30th birthday, my life is very different from how I imagined it looking. I never thought I would buy my first home on my own. I never thought I would turn 30 as a single person. My younger self honestly thought I would have at least one child by now.

But I don't - and that is ok. I am better for all the experiences I have had in my 20s. But at the same time, I sometimes feel like that ballerina - trapped in a music box, singing the same song, spinning in circles.

So I decided that instead of resenting the fact that my life is shaping up far differently than I imagined - I am trying to sing a different melody. I decided to do something that would celebrate the fact that I can go where I want, when I want, for however long I want. I realize that this is a freedom that I need to appreciate and embrace.

So this coming February, I will be spending 8 days in Paris - a city that absolutely captured my heart when I was there in 2008. There is just something magical about that city and I can't think of a better place to go to celebrate my birthday.

I am so excited for this trip and can't wait to return to Paris. This time around I am renting a flat in the Marais area which was my favorite area of Paris. It's actually WAY cheaper than staying in a hotel and I think I will have a more authentic experience.

Here are a couple of pictures of the apartment I am renting! It's so beautiful, I might not want to come back!! Mom, I promise I will... Unless I get swept off my feet by a handsome Parisian - then I can make no promises. ;)

I can't wait to bundle up in my wool coat and scarf and wander the streets of Paris. I can't wait to sip Cafe Creme in a quiet cafe while reading a great book. I can't wait to go ice skating on a rink by Hotel de Ville. I can't wait to discover new areas of Paris that I didn't have an opportunity to explore on my last trip.

So yes - my life is different than I imagined.

But a planning a trip like this makes me realize that maybe it's even better than the life I imagined.

What do you think, dear readers? So far, has your life turned out like you had imagined?


abbi said...

Looks like it'll be an amazing trip. My life is completely opposite from what I expected but kind of in the reverse of what you have. I certainly still have those times where I wonder, what it...I never in a million years thought I'd be married, in a house in a sub-division in the suburbs. I fully expected to be single, living in a city and being completely focused on my career. I turn 30 next year too and have been thinking about that a lot too!

Charbelle said...

Oh Lisa, I LOVED this post!! What a wonderful wonderful trip you have planned!! I am SO excited for you about this!! It's so easy to wallow in those woe is me moments but it's so important to remember that maybe, just maybe the here and now is so much better than the what we thought we would have!

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

You know, other than one fleeting moment before high school graduation when a girlfriend and I did a little time capsule to predict where we and our favorite classmates would be in 10 years, I've never really had a life plan for myself. Or at least not one set to a time line. I always thought I'd get married and probably have a family, but when? Where? With whom? All variables I never really thought about. And I'll tell you, when I turned 30, I was also single and childless and I loved every second of it! (BTW, for the record, we were way off base with where everyone would be in 10 years!)

Abby said...

The things that have stayed stable in your life are not things that define who "Lisa" is. When I look at you - I think you've gone through whirlwinds of change of the years.

I got the email with the pictures from Easter last weekend, and seeing the pictures of you - I couldn't believe how glowing you looked!! And that's you! --

You shine, and have the ability to have the world in your hands. You just booked an (incredibly gorgeous) apartment in beautiful Paris! I don't know anyone else who has the spirit to do that.

PS, I love that Regina song.

Amber said...

Eeeei! I've been waiting for this post!!

First, that flat you found is GORGEOUS!!!! It's going to be so nice to have a place like that to stay and you can go to the little french grocery shops and get groceries and make yourself breakfast in the mornings before you go out wandering and ahhh. Seriously sounds blissful.

I'm where I thought I would be at this age to an extent. I knew I would just be finishing up university (not necessarily where). Since I JUST graduated I'm pretty sure now is when my life is going to get interesting and maybe unexpected and everything might not go according to "plan".

Also, I love the way you worded this post!

Emily Jane said...

This was a fantastic post, and YAY for your upcoming trip - I can't think of anything better for you, it looks absolutely stunning and you are going to have the time of your life. But you must send me a postcard :)

I love the way you recognise how different life is than you may have thought it would be, but also that different doesn't mean it can't also be better. You have a great attitude toward life :)

And sidenote: Regina rules

I'maNolaGirl said...

Oh my!!!!! I am so excited for you! I cannot wait to chat all about Paris in one week!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

Nope, not at all. You are going to have a great trip!

Mandy said...

I love every last word of this post, Lisa. I am so excited for you to be returning to the city that you love. I never had a life plan mapped out of where I would be when I was a certain age. Thats not my style. As you know, lately I've been feeling that there's more and that I don't belong where I am any more, sort of caught like a ballerina spinning away not going any where (beautiful metaphor!). The best things about plans is that they can always be changed, altered, and spin off in a new direction.

Gracie said...

Honest, sweet...and exciting! I'm happy for you. I happen to be a big believer in basically making up your own melody. No, not quite. I guess I think sometimes life is doing its own melody, but I always try to harmonize! How's that! LOL.

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

I am soooo excited for you! This trip is going to be fantastic and a turning point for you. I can just feeeeeel it! A friend of mine went through something very similiar, she was at a strange place in her life and didn't think she was where she should be. She went on a trip and came back a new woman!
I have been thinking a lot about where I thought I would be at this age too... I'm a little younger than you but never thought I would be single and turning circles at 28 either... but, I'm beginning to think that maybe we should embrace this freedom in our 20s because we're probably not going to have it again in our 30s or again for a very long time.

Cherry Blossoms said...

You are going to have the time of your life. I am so glad that you are going and yes doing the apt route is def the way to go! Its going to truly feel like you are amongst the locals vs staying in a hotel. Another good point is knowing that each year our friendship keep growing and we are literally like family. XX

Kyla Roma said...

I'm so excited for you, your trip is going to be amazing, and what an apartment!! :)

While the outward changes in other people's lives over the past few years might be easier to see, I have trouble believing that who you are is so similar to how it was a few years ago. You've done so much & grown so much! That's just as (if not more) valid than those Big Life Events, miss.

It's not too hard to throw a party and put on a white dress, but working hard on who you are and getting your life into a happy place? That's something to be really proud of :)

Leigh said...

Oh my excited for you! You are going to have so much fun! That apartment looks gorgeous as well.

I think my life is where I thought it would be for my age. I always pictured myself getting married young. I would really like to have a permanent job, but fingers crossed that comes with time

Unknown said...

Lisa, your plan to go to Paris is perfect! And, that flat looks so wonderful. Celebrate and embrace your ability to take this trip!!! And blog....because last time you went to France I was living vicariously through you and plan to do the same on this trip :)

Becky said...

I love love LOVE this plan! Lisa you're going to have such an amazing time - that apartment looks divine! And because you've already been there you'll have so much fun deciding what to go see and do!!!

Nora said...

have you booked your paris flights yet? If so, the offer for a friend to come still on the table? If not, I totally understand, but I can't think of a better person to go to Paris with =)

I also just fell in love with that apartment. <3 you!

Erin said...

This post is wonderful! Last summer I totally felt the way you do. And much like you--instead of having a 'woe is me" party---I decided to embrace my singleness---in a world full of couples----and only THEN did I randomly meet my (NOW!) fiance! I fully believe we met and fell in love so easily because we were both secure in our singleness. He was 32 and I was 28 when we met---and we both figured that we might not EVER find someone like us---single, never married, no kids, stable job,etc---you know what I mean!! But---we did---and now we are planning our wedding!

And, as you know,we JUST got engaged in PARIS in MAY----and had a fabulous trip--thanks in part to your suggestions!!! So I think karma is just gonna run it's course and you're gonna meet a suave French man on your trip :)

Regardless of how the rest of THIS year plays out----just continue enjoying your life---doing what you love---and TRULY--all those cliche things that people like to tell single people( and most single people cringe when they hear them) really ARE true. You will meet a great guy when you least expect it---and when you meet him, you'll appreciate his company SO much, and love that you've experienced SO much on your own---and you can bring that to your relationship and it will be even greater than you can imagine :)

Sorry I rambled on so much---but I just REALLY loved this post. (I sent it on to a few single gals I know!)

Nicole said...

Hi Lisa. This is a great post! And, before I answer your question -- What a BEAUTIFUL apartment!! I am so excited for you. What a great adventure. How did you find the apartment to rent? This seems like a genius idea!

I just turned 29 a couple of weeks ago. In several conversations people have asked if I 'felt' this one. I sort of did. But I felt 27 more because when I was younger (late high school, probably) I remember thinking about how by the time I turned 27 I would have my life figured out. I would travel to Maine, own my own house and definitely be single. Definitely. Instead, I was married shortly after turning 26, still haven't been to Maine (why is that in my bucket list?!?) and while we did/do own a home… it's more like we pay a monthly fee to the bank that really owns our home. Nothing was as I pictured it. But I wouldn't change a thing. That is the great thing about life - at any moment the wind shifts and you are drifting in a completely different direction. I think we've talked about this before - but have you seen "Sliding Doors"? I love that movie; it shows how one little thing can entirely shift your life's storyline.

crystal said...

This is my favorite post by you to date!!! I love that you can honor the fact that your life is different than you had planned, while also appreciating the beauty in the differences!
Oh and I am so so very excited for you (and also quite a bit jealous) about your trip! It will be magical :)

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

LISA, I want to freaking scream for you right now!!! This is so exciting. And how gorgeous is that flat?! I love the pink walls. Definitely a lady with good style and guts. Love it.

You are going to have the time of your life in Paris. I'd love to go back and do my trip again.

My life is different than I expected, but not bad. For a while, being single for so long I felt the same way as you..."This is not the life I ordered." But then again, now that I look back, I'm so happy I had so much freedom to do whatever the hell I wanted whenever I wanted to do it! Sometimes I even miss that, espec. since manfriend's bank account doesn't allow him to travel as much as I'd like to. ANywho, keep on trucking. I have a feeling the 30s are going to be fabulous!

Shoshanah said...

I never could have even guessed I would wind up in Louisiana, even just 5 years ago.

But that apartment looks so cute, and I'm sure you'll have an amazing time in Paris! I'm sure you'll probably go a little crazy waiting till Feb to go there.

Stephany said...

That flat looks amazing! You're going to have an amazing time in Paris, I just know it!

My life is nothing like I thought it would look like, if you had asked me 5 years ago. I didn't think I would still be in school, still single, still working at a part-time job, still living with my mother.

I just keep reminding myself that everyone takes a different path & we don't all have to follow the same graduate, go to college, graduate within 4 years, get married, have babies before 30 path. I think I'm on the perfect path for ME.

Nicole said...

My life is probably nothing like I used to think it would be. Slowly I am learning to accept that. It's so hard though when I'm such a planner to just live in the moment.

Your Paris trips sounds so exciting and amazing. The place you're renting is beautiful. I hope you have an amazing time!

Ally said...

This is a great post, Lisa. I'm glad you recognize that different doesn't always equal worse.

I am so happy you'll get to travel back to Paris! The flat looks gorgeous!

Oh said...

Lisa - the apartment is wonderful, so is the neighborhood. It's gonna be fabulous. Keep singing that different melody!

Kelly said...

That flat looks amazing! And I think even though you may feel like nothing has changed, it probably has in many ways (sure you are working for the same company, but you left for awhile, you eat differently...I forget exactly when you ran your marathon but I think 2006 would be before that? maybe not though).

The weird thing is I don't really know where I saw myself at 26 when I was younger. I think I just didn't see 26 coming haha. It seemed so far away. In some ways I think I expected to feel older than I do (sometimes I'm still amazed that I am actually an adult and not a kid'd think this would've worn off since it's been 8 years since I was a "kid") and in other ways I expected to act younger than I do, be a little more irresponsible and a bit more of a college-age version of myself at 26. Our younger selves have no idea whats in the plans though.

ALso, the reading specialist at my school totally reminds me of you- I swear it goes beyond the fact that you both love reading (though she doesn't run...but thats okay). Anyway, when I first started working at my school she was 31 and single and starting to get worried about the whole getting married/having kids thing. 2 years later she met a guy through (or one of those sites) and she just got married today :) I see this as being you in a few years, but for now I like your attitude to enjoy the freedom you have :)

Jess said...

I'm so happy for you!! What an amazing trip - and one you totally deserve!!

aimee said...

I'm a little late on this post because I was out of town but....HOLY CRAP!! I'm so excited for you! It's funny how life doesn't turn out the way we envision it. I'm so excited for you and your trip to Paris. It's going to be amazing!!!

Lisa-Marie said...

My life didn't turn out like I expected. I was going to be a teacher at 21, a head teacher at 30, wasn't going to be married and would have my own big house. My life is better though!

The apartment looks fab! Husband and I are Paris bound soon too!

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I just re-read this one. It seems like many of the things you were having issues with (same job, condo etc) are changed now! You've come a long way in the last year!