France

Another Year Better

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For the last seven or eight years, I’ve always gone for a run on my birthday. And on these ritual runs, I’ve always had the same idea jump around, exciting the membranes, spurring my legs to go faster and faster: What if I moved to Paris right now?*

It sounds like a hypothetical, and I suppose it is, but it always gets posed as a serious question in my mind. What if I got home from my run, booked a ticket, packed my bags, and left for good? Because the thing is, I could. There’d be a few annoyances and some awkward phone calls, but technically I could do it. I could go live in my dream city.

A couple of the years I felt THISCLOSE to actually acting upon my flight of French fancy.** The Great Escape, I’d title the chapter in my memoir. Or maybe it would be the title of the memoir itself. It sounded positively romantic, the thing that grand adventure stories are made of: “Girl turns 25, leaves her entire life behind and starts afresh in the place she wishes she were born.” Sounds rather Joycian, no?

But I’ve never done it. I’ve always finished my run, sprinting the last two blocks to my house, and returned to the life I’ve been living. The one in Los Angeles, with my quaint little cottage, my comfortable job, my lovely friends, and the permanent sunshine. And the dreams of being a Parisian return to the nocturnal world of sleep.

Today I turned 29. And for the first time in many years, I did not go for a run on my birthday. Nor did I dream of running away. Because really, that’s what I was doing. I can sugar coat it all I want – “Paris is my favorite city! Only natural for me to want to move there!” or “It’s just the adventurer in me!” – but my fantasies weren’t about Paris. Not really. They were, as my memoir title nails so beautifully on the head, about escape.

But from what?

I have a great life. A wonderful, blessed, privileged life. I know this. I’ve always known this. And I do not want to sound ungrateful. Because I am very grateful. I often break down in tears for no reason at all except an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my experience of this world. In fact, it happened several times today. Like while I’m typing this sentence.

So again, what was I trying to run away from?

Well, myself. That sounds really harsh and overblown, and it is, but it’s really the core of what was keeping me so unsettled, so ready to shed this skin and put on un autre. Because I was afraid.

I was afraid of embracing this self, this version of me that lives and loves and cries and drinks and stumbles my way through Los Angeles. Through Hollywood Blvd and along the coast and up Runyon Canyon and into casting offices and at home on my computer. The self that has wanted to tell stories since I learned how to speak, but has for so long feared that I had nothing to say. That felt I needed to do something crazy and rash and become someone else in order to earn that right.

And in a super ironic way, that’s exactly what I did that made me finally stop being afraid of myself. I made up a fake name, set a crazy 40 day goal, and then blogged about it. And while it was very much autobiographical and pretty much like an online literary version of The Bachelorette, it helped me recognize my own voice. And in doing that, I finally gave myself permission. Permission to create. Permission to write. Permission to imagine. Permission to live in Paris without having to move there. Or I could move there if I wanted, but not because this me wasn’t enough.

“Why are you sitting there when you can go anywhere?” my amazing friend and SoulCycle instructor Jenny said to the class during today’s ride.*** She was referring to a meme of a bird perched on a tree with the caption I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere.

In years past, this naturally would have ignited my French fantasy. But today I felt something different. It’s not about literally going somewhere (although you all know how much I LOVE to travel.) If it was about that, Jenny never would have said it to a bunch of people on stationary bikes. No, it’s about transcending that part of you that keeps you stuck. That part that’s afraid. That part that says “You can’t go there. You’re not an artist. You’re not a writer.” That part that holds you back and makes you want to become someone else.

I felt my legs go faster and faster, picking up speed with the rhythm of the music, the pulsing of room. I’m 29! I beamed, tears streaking my face alongside the sweat. This is my life! I’m breathing! I’m flying! And I was. I am.

*One year it was New York. And another it was Tuscany. But usually it’s Paris.

**I may have been a little less happy these years. Or perhaps the opposite.

***You didn’t think I wasn’t going to exercise at all today, did you?

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How to Get Mixy: Guidelines from the South of France

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What does it mean to be “mixy?” This is a question that I’ve been asked many times over the past several months- by friends, acquaintances, strangers, myself. When I decided to book the Mix of France this summer, a 5-night affair promising lots and lots of mixiness, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. A gathering of hand-crafted cocktail enthusiasts? An ethnically diverse blend of sunbathers? My go to response was “it’ll be Adult Spring Break.” The Cancun college tradition, only classier. Way classier. But this doesn’t even begin to encapsulate mixy. Because mixy is a state of being. It’s like the definition of cool, but cooler. It’s…mixy.

Hosting a 30th birthday party in Cannes with 77 friends, one hotel, and hundreds of bottles of rosé, Grey Goose and Moët et Chandon is mixy. This is how the incomparable Mike Basch chose to blow out his 20s, and it is only appropriate that he is the one who has spearheaded the Mixy Movement. According to him, “mix” is gathering together hip friends from different social circles around the world and allowing them to blend. The hotel serves as a sort of Petri dish where chemical reactions can occur, molecules combining and recombining, a science experiment in social anthropology. While this definition is not incorrect, it’s far too limiting, like defining love as people caring for one another. It needs further explanation. So what is mixy?

Mixy is pre-gaming for the Mix in another country. It’s dancing in Barcelona until 3am then hopping a flight the next morning with a raging hangover. It’s shooting a film in Paris, visiting friends in London, throwing an epic going away party with a hundred friends, staying out all night in New York, then jetsetting to Nice. It’s taking a helicopter into Cannes, sharing a luxury taxi with new friends, working through that hangover together. It’s also booking a last minute flight, deciding on Sunday that Friday you’ll be partying in the South of France. It’s doing whatever it takes to make sure you are part of the Mix.

Mixy is drinking a bottle of rosé at lunch the first day, and two bottles on the beach. It’s consuming more rosé in five days then most non-French will drink in their lives. It’s rosé at breakfast, it’s magnums of rosé at Nikki Beach, it’s rosé at dinner. It’s seeing the world through rosé colored glasses. You should try it sometime, it’s beautiful.

Mixy is partying for five days straight. And five nights. It’s dancing at baoli until 4am, then waking up to take a boat to St. Tropez. It’s 16 hours of dancing, from Nikki Beach to the tables of Brasserie des Arts to VIP. It’s boats of sushi, and more magnums of rosé, and perfectly cooked seabass and filet. It’s a woman in the bathroom line at dinner saying “I wish I were at your table, you guys look like you’re having the most amazing time.” And of course, we are. (Note: spraying 50 bottles of Piper into the air for two minutes might seem mixy, but it’s not. Wasted alcohol = not mixy.)

Mixy is representing countries from all over the world. It’s speaking several languages, and talking in sexy accents. It’s being British and saying whatever the hell you please, because god dammit if it doesn’t still sound charming. It’s being well-traveled and well-versed in other cultures. It’s cosmopolitan.

Mixy is working hard and playing hard. It’s booking a movie on vacation (not me, another wonderful actress), it’s managing a company from a beach chair, it’s waking up early for the market, then drinking rosé. It’s networking with other people in your industry, and those not in your industry. It’s learning about derivatives, then doing a Superman on a stop sign just before dawn (okay, no one learned about derivatives, but a few people work in them.) It’s spending the money you earned, because after all, we only live once. WOLO.

Mixy is running on the Croisette, jumping rope like a maniac, powering through an ab workout. Getting sick is not mixy, but it’s inevitable for all but the most seasoned alcoholics. It’s pushing your body to the limit, then going further in the name of Mix. Sleep when you die, be healthy when you’re home. Anyways, the wine has no sulfites (or maybe it does, but placebo effect), the food is fresh and preservative free, and the sun gives you Vitamin D: all very mixy.

Most importantly, mixy is getting to know some of the coolest people you’ve ever met. It’s guys and girls, singles and couples, old friends and new. It’s a summer fling you’ll think about for years (and pray to someday revisit), it’s the girl in London you’ll stay with next fall, it’s the couple in Germany who invites you to the “secret Oktoberfest” in April. It’s a party in room 352, or 260, or 431. Heck, it’s a party in every room of the Carlton, that’s how mixy the Mix is. And it continues in Istanbul, Tel Aviv, London, Paris, Vienna, New York, Los Angeles, all over the world. Because in the end, Mike is right: mixy is about the people. We brought the mix because we were the Mix.

The question now is: are you ready to get mixy??