(Dear Readers, today’s blog post is an exercise in free writing: to describe, to ponder, and to attempt to understand myself in another way. I hope you will indulge my musings which have no deep significance– sometimes it is good to just write for the sake of practice. SB)
Leigh leads a double life, in two countries on two different continents. The Leigh who lives in Denmark, a rather demure and often serious woman, lives quietly and unobtrusively with her Danish husband in the middle of a beautiful part of Denmark. She usually dresses in subtle shades, often black in the Danish style, wears skirts, scarves and sweaters, along with boots and her elegant black cashmere full length coat for more than half the year. Denmark Leigh speaks poor yet somehow understandable Danish, excellent English with an American accent, and understands only a portion of what the Danish say, both among themselves and to her. She drinks Earl Grey tea and coffee with milk and sugar, spends inordinate amounts of time in the wonderful Danish library, and when in a friendly mood, smiles even at strangers, who only occasionally smile in return. She is a real homebody, cooks for her husband and herself, bakes bread, writes, makes art sometimes, misses her three daughters back in America, and dreams a lot. You could say she has an artist’s soul, and is rather an introvert. But inside her soul burns with passion, with longing, with the desire to express herself fully, without holding back, to be extroverted and unafraid to show herself to the world.
The Leigh who lives (temporarily again) in America has more of an outgoing, relaxed nature. She dresses casually as is the prevailing fashion here in this small, hippyish mid-western town in Southern Wisconsin. Mostly she is clad in jeans and tops, somewhat more colorful than her Danish cousin, since colorful clothing is accepted and worn by most people here. She smiles and in return is smiled at and greeted by most people who are walking around the town with her any day of the week. Here the custom of the people is to be friendly and open, which American Leigh very much appreciates. This Leigh is not so shy, certainly not demure, and at times can feel quite bold and uninhibited to let her warmth and beauty show. In Wisconsin she is talkative, even chatty at times, without apology. This Leigh eats in the local cafe, speaks perfect American English and understands every single word which is spoken to her in the same American tongue. She gardens to her heart’s content in her friends’ large and generous garden space, happily turning the soil, planting seeds and starts, watering and weeding. American Leigh is social. She receives many invitations to local events happening any day of the week, and within the past few weeks has been to an Earth Day celebration, two different theatre productions, a religious celebration, a few dinners and parties with friends, an orchestra concert by the middle and high schoolers, shopping exertions to the larger town north of here, and, just tonight, she had a whole lot of fun dancing to live bands for hours. The first band played rhythm and blues, as well as old rock and dance music. The second band played great Chicago Blues. The music touched Leigh’s soul deeply, struck old, familiar chords within her heart, and she danced unabashed, not caring at all who may have been watching her.
Two worlds, one human being, two distinct personalities. There can be no denying that the American Leigh just has more fun than the Danish Leigh. Life is so much easier in one’s homeland in a hundred ways. She knows many people there, whereas Danish Leigh only knows a handful, and even fewer with whom could she say she is really friends. Danish Leigh does not go out dancing, or even out to eat. She listens to a lot of classical music because it is what her husband vastly prefers. She speaks much less for the dual reasons of not having so many opportunities to speak English, and not being able to express herself well in Danish. Danish Leigh and American Leigh know each other intimately; at times they are good friends, and at other times they are at odds with each other.
Life has a mysterious way of giving us the lessons we need in order to learn what we are supposed to learn while we are here. The intricate threads of our lives are woven together in ways which we humans could never have imagined by ourselves. Life happens while we are making other plans, said John Lennon. And it is true that we need to be very conscious of what we ask for; because one way or another we will get it. When that day comes, will we be ready to accept it?
Dear Readers, I admit I have gotten into trouble in my personal life when I have mentioned anything having to do with my wonderful Danish husband in my previous blog posts. But this once I throw caution to the winds, because sometimes I just have to say what I feel and how life is for me, no matter what. Writers have to be brave people and tell their truth if they want anyone to read them! I love my husband so dearly; he means the world to me. I wish him to know that American Leigh would like to hear live music in Denmark, not only the classical variety, but also jazz, blues and rock and roll, even if they aren’t the absolutely most fantastic bands in the world, I don’t care! Sometimes a girl’s just gotta dance to feel good inside. (And she would very much like to dance to this live music with him!)
I want to tell him that American Leigh needs to also be there sometimes in Denmark, with her chattiness, casual clothing and, well, Americanness, and feel like she is okay, she can feel free to simply be her, whether she is in Denmark or Japan or Nepal… to feel that it is just fine to be exactly who and how she is. Without apology.
The two Leighs live side by side, within one body. One is not more important than the other; I need them both, and I love them both. My dual Gemini nature has to be allowed the freedom to wear either the mask of comedy or tragedy, depending on the day, month and season of the year. Now, in the middle of my life, I am learning to accept the different sides of myself with love and compassion, to move beyond my own condemnation of the sides of me that I think are less than attractive. Self love is absolutely crucial to being a healthy human, and a key towards having love and compassion for the world. I love the serious, introverted side of me, as much as the fun-loving, extroverted, dancing side, and I honor them both.
(ps: for those of you who have not seen it, the film The double life of Veronique is worth watching, albeit somewhat confusing to figure out what is happening at times. Here is a link to a blog which discusses this interesting film: http://thevelvetcafe.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/veronique-is-a-hard-coconut-to-crack/