I’d just handed the security guard my new ID, fresh off the printer, with a blown-out photo, flopsy hair, and a big, dumb smile (due in part to the university assistant’s answer to my question about whether she thought un sourire ou une grimace would be better … a smile or a grimace).
“Quel beau sourire!” he said, a cigarette hanging from his lips.
I laughed, saying I’d just escaped the States, a joke that was true in the very real sense of making it through a daunting line-up of bureaucratic and pandemic-related obstacles, each a more logistical and physical test than the last:
Avoid state-specific 14-day quarantines with questionable enforceability!
Outlast 50 hours of driving cross-country over four days!
Undergo three COVID tests in 72 hours!
He laughed and let me through, and like the good little writer I’d like to be when I grow up one day, I went about the errands necessary to establish the tone, place, and setting for this next chapter of life in France.
I laughed to myself about the surreality of being here. Of getting a bank account here, and blanking on my new cell phone number. Of finally not getting lost on the subway. Of having completely discarded the possibility of all of this back in March, on my flight home, Macron’s speech still soaking in.
And again in May, when the school turned me down.
And again in June, when Europe said ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ to America.
I laughed to myself, but not at the joke… because it felt like an easy out.
And it doesn’t feel particularly true to why I’m actually here.
What’s not true about the joke (but doesn’t every joke have a kernel of truth, Alex?!) is feeling like I needed to escape from anything.
It’s either Day One on your path to that big idea…
… or that big idea remains something you’ll go toward One Day.
One Day I’ll write a screenplay vs Day One of writing your screenplay.
One Day I’ll run a marathon vs. Day One of lacing ‘em up.
One Day I’ll play in the NBA vs… well, I missed that boat.
For me, the One Day of eventually spending time sipping coffee on another country’s streetcorners had been teasing me for years.
But as so often happens when we think about things, those thoughts became more real.
My whimsical little choices were leading to real, life-altering decisions.
Before I knew it, I was being presented with Day Ones, and I said…
… no, not yet.
Maybe One Day.
Like in August of 2018, for example. I was asked to keep working at the end of my stay in Rwanda, to keep developing a tour company and marketing and, I assume, to keep drinking banana beer to my heart’s – and liver’s – content…
But I had to come back to LA. The same work contract that had given me the comfort to sail away that summer beckoned me back to port that fall.
And so the One Day settled back into the future.
… until One Night.
October 28th of last year, I sent my family an email at 10 the night before a live show taping the next morning.
Despite the early morning, I couldn’t sleep.
I found myself searching for something. I ended up looking at the list of programs at the school I’m at now.
With a vague email fired off, I nodded off to a fitful sleep.
Then, before getting ready for work the next morning at 4:30, I sent another email.
And One Day became Day One.
I found a renewed vigor for French tutoring. I took on the application process to be an international student in the middle of a pandemic. I noodled with how to take on two professional shifts at once.
Each obstacle could’ve been a One Day.
One Day… it’d be great to speak enough French to get around abroad for a bit.
One Day… it’d be great to be paid to write.
One Day… it’d be great to be able to work like I used to travel, relying on my own energy and creativity than the need to be in any one place, working for any one company.
And yet, the first Day One led to other Day Ones.
Work begets work.
Excitement begets excitement.
While those Day Ones are still fresh in my mind (and still coming – today was Day One of the program), they have already happened.
And now I’m getting ready for the next steps and challenges that come with Day Twos and Day Threes, I’m thinking of that big, dumb smile on an ID card that happened because a sleepless night, some capricious emails, and months of work (and maybe a little exasperation) turned my One Day into a Day One.