Life is a web twisted with golden braids and sharp nettles. The delicate interweaving of events, people, places, and experiences create the rich tapestry that cloaks our lives. Though people weave in and out of our lives, we are either richer or poorer for having met them.
The summer after I graduated high school was once fraught with soaring highs and bitter lows. At the end of the school year, I had a nervous breakdown. I felt like I was being strangled, tight ropes forming in my back and squeezing my consciousness. I gasped for breath, but found naught but stale memories. I was taken to the hospital, where I was chewed out by a shrewish nurse who didn't agree with my choice of wanting to watch Family Guy on my private TV. She turned it off without my permission and left me alone, confused, and without the humor that was sustaining what little resolve I had left. After being examined, released, and carted home, I faced the prospect of going back to school, which made me sick to my stomach, but I also had to meet my new therapist. I am happy to say this part of the tale has an incredibly happy ending, as my therapist Diedre became a godsend - warm, caring, intelligent, and able to handle the delicate ball of stress that sat across from here with ease and aplomb. I often credit her with piecing together my self-esteem, as well as not laughing when I presented her with my first piece of serious writing. I guess you could say she's one of the reason's I'm able to write like I am right now, without worry or care.
I've often analyzed why it occurred, and I chalked it up to being uncomfortable with the inevitably difficult task of transitioning from high school to college. As a result, I almost wasn't able to graduate, but thankfully I was able to piece myself back together and finish out the slog. I was also to perform in the final play of the semester, Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht, a sunny piece of German kunstwerk where nearly every main character gets killed, stolen from, raped, or abused. I remember nothing from my experience in that play except the incredible anxiety I felt before walking onstage and the dagger I was given as a prop, a mangled wooden creation with visibly glued pieces and chipping paint. It all struck me as rather ridiculous.
Coming off of a breakdown, a play, and high school graduation, you'd think that I was entitled to a respite, kee-rect? The dissolution of marriages of both my mom/stepdad and dad/stepmom put an end to any hope of rest and relaxation. I won't go too much into it, but they were mismatched pairs from the genesis of the relationships. It was simply a matter of two dysfunctional couples bugging the hell out of each other. Sadly, I became the bookshelf these poisoned tomes chose to bear their weight on. Between one couple fighting constantly and the other blaming me for being sullen, depressed, and anxious, as I was still getting ingratiated into my new medication, I was a husk in search of a heart to warm me.
One day, I was browsing at the library, trying to find someone to occupy my time in a positive way. Often when someone is sad, they are able to mask it well. I, on the other hand, was gaunt, thin, constantly tired, and visibly drained. As I walked into the biography section, I was drawn to a book with a burgundy and silver spine, one with a picture of the subject as well. I picked up the rather heavy volume and thumbed through the pages, constantly seeing exotic French words I'd never seen before, like coq au van, beouf bourguignon, and salad verte. I clutched the book to my chest, checked it out, and read it in one night.
That was the moment I met Julia Child.
This woman, who I've written about copiously, led an extraordinary life, one that is well-known the world over for her zest for life, intelligence, and unique persona. In the midst of this storm, I was looking for a rope to grab onto to save me from the surf. Julia was the perfect anchor, a true individual who followed her dreams, loved intensely, and never let the world define what she stood for. I would return to the library soon after and take out DVDs of Julia's show The French Chef and spend countless hours watching and re-watching them, basking in the utter joy she radiated.
Soon after, I was living my life with the same vim and vigor. It was slow slogging at first, but little by little, like a stock simmering on the stove, all the ingredients of my personality started to fuse together. I was able to finally open my eyes and see the world and its inhabitants for what they really were: flawed people, trying their best. We may not have all the answers, we may cause my problems than we solve, and we may lead ourselves down paths of destruction, but we are a people of strong moral fiber, determination, and who love life to the fullest extensions of the heart.
It was Julia Child who gave me the confidence to start blogging. My first blog was a simple Blogspot affair, but it allowed me to get my feet wet and ascertain whether or not I had the guts to write from the heart. In honor of Julia, I named the blog Mastering the Art of Human Language, after her seminal work Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It was primitive, it was poorly-written, and it was certainly boring as all get-out, but I finally felt like a true individual, who formed opinions and started to learn who he was.
I will be forever grateful to Julia for having lived a life that was such an inspiration. I could have given up, resigned myself to a life of quiet servitude, and married one of the desperate girls from high school, but I knew, through the sadness and pain, that I was meant for more. Here I am 7 years later and 7,000 times happier. It's particularly fascinating for me to return to that time where I was in such dissaray, not that I have totally shed that mind you, and how I pulled myself up by the skin of my teeth and started to live with an eternal fire in my gut.
To you Julia, I simply have one phrase of thanks, love, and my eternal gratitude: