One of my favorite movies is “Chocolat” with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. Besides being a delightful film, I’ve always identified with the protagonist, Juliette Binoche’s character, who like a tumble weed, travels from town to town. Making chocolate for a living, she sets up shop until the winds blow signaling to her to move again. She is a magician of sorts, healing those around her through the mysteries and nuances of chocolate and her uncanny ability to listen and understand the special needs of her customers.
Binoche’s character however, is ultimately an outsider, unable to plant roots or make lasting connections with anyone other than her daughter. But then one day, she wakes up more attached than she realizes. The winds blow and not wanting to move yet again, her daughter pitches a fit. Panicked, Binoche’s character insists until she suddenly surrenders, realizing the old has given way to the new. She has found love, a community, peace. She doesn’t have to keep running and she doesn’t have to keep being the wise outsider who never has to be vulnerable or attached herself.
Tonight I went to a party for a friend of mine I haven’t seen in a number of months. While there, I ran into a woman I’ve studied acting with. The night before I sat with a friend of mine at church who I met from that same acting class and at the party, I ran into a couple who happen to be good friends with my neighbor. Six degrees of separation.
In between brie and wine, the conversation dropped to a deep space when four of us talking in a huddle realized we were all connected by suicide. My mother had committed suicide, someone’s ex-partner had, someone had attempted and the fourth had known someone who had died. Not your standard party chatter but it was far from a morbid conversation. One woman suddenly shared a tear, one of us grabbed her hand. All of us acknowledged what a blessing it is to be alive. To be happy. To have gratitude for our lives.
I don’t think I can keep moving. I think I’m done with constant relocating. Like Juliette Binoche’s character, I’ve uprooted many times – whenever I’ve felt the winds stir. Whenever, I’ve felt restlessness in my blood. Indonesia. San Francisco. New York. Setting up a chocolate shop in each place – making connections – learning – growing – but not committing.
You know you are at a good party when hours fly by and you think you’ve only been there a half hour. This has happened twice to me this month. You know you’re becoming rooted when you have a place like “Cheers” where everybody knows your name. When your airplane touches down in your home city and you’re actually glad to be back, no matter how great the trip was. Yes, I’m beginning to feel settled. Blessed. Finally, at almost forty, I think I want to stay. Commit. Be a part. An intimate part, not just the gypsy with the intriguing chocolates.