Where’d you go Bernadette

2012. Bernadette Fox. Meghana Joshi. Restless.

When I read Where’d you go Bernadette at 36, my societal labels attached to another person had hit every item on the curry culture happily ever after list. Marriage and motherhood had consumed my twenties, and career was given a secondary status. Happy, not content. Restless, but rooted. Existential crisis, maybe pre-midlife crisis. Conversations of securing permits at work, the division of labor at home, and bragging rights through children drowned the person struggling to stay alive within me.

“Surrounded by white noise,I have forgotten what it is to drown me in silence, making inaudible conversations with the invisible. Arms open, eyes closed, the heart is filled with a shower of love, but forgotten is the beautiful pain of emptiness,arms closed, body crouched, eyes open staring at the white ceiling in the faint midnight light.” – Meghana, 2012. 

Full of love, yet lonely.

That was Bernadette, but that was me. I didn’t belong. I didn’t belong among the monogrammed Louis Vuitton mothers who looked and sounded the same in their athleisure. I didn’t belong at the post-work cocktail hour where they discussed state of architecture in the city. I didn’t belong. I read Bernadette cover to cover, and spent time wondering where this was leading, the insomniac nights, the anxiety and paranoia of planning everything, and finding that elusive vision that defines me. The choice was mine, chase the societal illusion of perfection and limit – suffocate the person I was, or start responding to voices in my head, and the voices that mattered to me, tune out the noise. I could create a world I belonged in, or forever struggle to fit in. 

2019. Bernadette Fox. Meghana Joshi. Restless. 

“Hello, can I help you with something? If not, please step aside because I’m about to kick the shit out of life.” 

Where’d you go Bernadette

Life has changed so much in past seven years.  Train to nowhere, and unknown journey still excite me, but I don’t feel limited and suffocated to constantly yearn for it. I have given myself every liberty to chase anything and everything I want to do within reasonable limits. If I were to die today, I won’t have any regrets, I won’t wish I could have done something differently. There are no sliding doors to speak of. But, there are Bernadette moments galore. I still oscillate from anti-social to extremely sociable depending on the conversation content. The small things bother, and the big things see my calm. The paranoia of preparation and planning continues, though mostly through creative outlets. Sleepless nights are still a badge of honor though I make efforts to get sleep. 

Point is, you won’t belong everywhere when you think different… don’t change who you are, change who are with. It’s hard enough being a woman in architecture, when you are an immigrant woman of color, and a young mother, the places you belong to limit exponentially. Then there is the additional burden of living two lives, and don’t know which one is a lie. You are constantly called to answer culture that you no longer adhere to, and you are pushed to make efforts to assimilate in your chosen country. All this, and neurodiversity adds to the list of things, but I would rather die trying. Like Bernadette says, if you are bored, you are responsible to make it interesting…

“the sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”

Where’d you go Bernadette

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