June 1st, 1999. I’d spent a hard semester at college while my relationship with a former long-time boyfriend dissolved, and I’d decided to go to France on a six-week abroad program that summer. I’d been in France roughly a week by the start of June, and already I was in love. In love with the country, in love with my fairy-tale room on the third floor of my host-house, in love with the cobblestone roads and cafes and cathedrals and classes.
June 1st, 1999. I sat on the floor of my bedroom, listening to music and doing my French homework for the day. I’d been struggling so hard with depression, but in that moment, something lifted from my shoulders. For the first time in years, I felt awake. Alive. I started smiling. Grinning. Laughing to myself. I could breathe again.
I cannot say exactly why this one moment affected my life so profoundly. Maybe it was simply a combination of being away from the troubles at home plus lots of exercise (walking everywhere!) and healthier foods. Hormones and health can really make a huge difference in a person’s life. Maybe it was just a change in perspective. That one moment, however, allowed me to shuck off the chains I was carrying. The boyfriend who had been ill-using me, my fears of being alone, the ties to certain beliefs and traditions that no longer worked for me. In that moment, I crossed over into a new life.
That’s not to say everything has been peachy-wonderful since then. Of course not. All I know is that a dividing line was drawn, the most significant dividing line of my life, before or since. Every year, I celebrate. June 1st feels like a new year for me, a new beginning, a new chance to let go and live.