Thursday, October 8, 2009

Middle of "now or never" Paris to London

Moving from Paris to London adventures at age 74 (middle of my delivery, at the Canal Cafe Theatre of London

Now or never middle.mp3
The text of "now or never" (whole) below, as I wrote it, not as I delivered it...

“Now or never” - Julie Kertesz - London October 2009
When I was 45 years old and my life was in turmoil, again. Just in time, I found this in a paper:
“You will have your second chance, but catch it when it arrives. Do not let it fly away!”
I needed it! I did get my second chance. 
I found my way to a Toastmasters Club where I learned to have the courage to stand up, to speak in public. I still remember, how afraid I was the first time! It also gave me lot more self confidence. 
From there, the rest followed.
Later in my life, I found out that one can have also a 3rd 4th even 5th chance! But the cookie was right when it passes near us, we need to have the guts to jump on it, take it and hold it… as long as possible.
Almost 30 years later, I was way past 70 by then, I was living in a small dark house near Paris, alone already for seven years. I felt more and more lonely.
Yes, I had the streets of Paris to stroll and its people to photograph. I also had some wonderful but short encounters with the strangers I photographed.  Yes, through the Internet, I had contact with other bloggers, but I hungered for more: live human contact.
So, when my son told me: “My company sends me for three years to London”,  I decided I’ll go too, I will not remain in Paris alone!
I felt, I could change my life, again.
Now or never.
 “Yes,” they told me, “you can stay with us - for a while. Send some of your things with ours, but not too many!”
For weeks and weeks, I sorted by books, my most dear possessions. Which to take with me? Which to sell? Which just leave behind? After 27 years in Paris from which 7 in that house, it was not easy to make up my mind.
Once I decided to take the huge leap through the Chanel, I began to tremble. Suddenly Paris to London, not far in miles, seemed a huge step to take. Another language, another culture, another world: attractive, but scaring.
After age of 70, change yet another time my life?
Now or never!
18 july 2008, 5 in the morning, I stuffed my Peugeot, with my diaries, my small computer, my camera, family photos and some clothes. One last pillow - and off I went.
In the Eurotunnel, to give myself courage, I put on the window-shell of my car the photo of me at age 5, age when I still believed that the entire world is there for me.
I arrived in London early, but then, I found out, they did not have, yet, a spare bed for me. My grandson gave up his bed and slept on the floor that night.
Next morning, I left there all my belongings, bar my small camera, and for ten days, I took a cheap room near Earl’s Curt. The bed was bumpy, the public shower leaked, but I was in center London.
I begun looking for a room to share: a rent I could afford.
Who wants to share a flat with an old woman?
The rooms where “already taken” or “no more available” or even:  “send the money first…”
Finally, I had to move in with my family for a while.
I went to an Agency near them ‘An apartment at that price?’  They showed me a flat near a smelly garbage disposal, another dark one behind a noisy bus station.
Finally, they found for me a quiet sunny place I loved at first sight.   
Home again! 
Now, what?
Through my old web contacts I found out, that there exist thousands of Meetup groups in London: Portrait Meetup, Booksharing Meetup, and many others. (Here it was longer, but the producer of Spark, suggested I cut the details, not really important.) I went to as much as my energy let me. I also took photos at divers festivals, it was wonderful to discover the diversity of places and people in London: I felt less a stranger between all those cultures.
But in December, six month after I arrived, I took a break, and realized that with all my feverish activity, I felt still lonely.
In January this year, in a slippery cold winter day, I found my way back, after 30 years, to a Toastmaster’s club in Lewisham. Toastmasters brings out the speaker from us in a supportive environment. Connecting! Really listening to each other’s stories.
Yes! That was what I needed!
With my first speech, I fell in love: I fell in love - with the audience. And, as when you are in love, I dropped everything else and put all my energy into discovering all I could about speaking in public.
While studying different aspects of the public speaking, I discovered the importance of Personal Storytelling.
Storytelling how? Storytelling where?   
Storytelling, lead me here, storytelling lead me to you.
We do not know exactly where a path leads, but when the occasion arrives, we have to take it. One can get yet another chance, at any age!

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