"Think of the long trip home
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today?
Is it right to be watching strangers in a play
in this strangest of theatres?
What childishness is it that while there's a breath of life
in our bodies, we are determined to rush
to see the sun the other way around?
The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?
To stare at some inexplicable old stonework,
inexplicable and impenetrable,
at any view,
instantly seen and always, always delightful?
Oh, must we dream our dreams
and have them, too?
And have we room
for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?"
-- Elizabeth Bishop
...so I've kind of neglected this little blog of mine while on my European adventure, which I promised I told myself I would not do, but as usual, life got in the way. I thought I'd have all the time in the world to update this and reflect on my travels but I was too busy living it and actually experiencing it all to sit in my room and write. I wanted to soak up every second and be in the moment every moment. I didn't want to miss anything...
...so two months later, I feel like my life has changed completely. I know, I know, that sounds so cliché but hey, it's a cliché for a reason. "What a difference a day made...twenty four little hours", says María Grever. Well, try forty-nine days, one thousand one hundred and seventy six hours. Think of the difference that's been made since the time I left and the time I've returned. So many things have happened and there are so many stories to tell. It's funny for me to even think of where I was in my personal life before leaving...now I'm so far from where I started, so far from where I used to be, used to know. A whole world has opened up to me...a world that only vaguely and abstractly existed in my mind. It's a wonder, really how much perspective I've gained, how many sights my eyes have beheld, how many different people and different characters I've encountered, how many friendships I've gained, how much I've learned about the world, about relationships, and about myself.
Who knew? Two months ago, who could have known how much I would grow up during this trip? I've learned so much about myself, it's unbelievable! Shocking, even. Being alone in a foreign country with what were initially strangers? I've surprised myself with what I'm actually capable of. My first time ever traveling by myself without the parentals...might not seem like a big deal to some of you but for me? A spoiled princess living the safe, sheltered life of the good ol' Markham suburbia? It's pretty effin' epic. I've explored the streets of Central Europe on my own, struggled with maps trying to learn all the various transit systems...such simple things that I don't usually do back here at home. The feeling is amazing though...to know that you can do these things on your own? Liberating. Empowering, really. Independence like I've never felt before...
...and the friendships I've made? Solid. Untouchable. I've made friends that will truly last me a lifetime because the things we went through and the experiences we shared is unlike any other. We explored foreign lands together. Lived and breathed each other's presence 24/7 for five weeks. It's like we share this secret that no one else can ever know or even come close to understanding. No matter how hard I try to explain to friends back home all the things I've done, seen, and experienced, there isn't the same appreciation. Only the friends that I've made on this trip can truly understand what I'm talking about. Like I said...it's like we share this intimate secret that only we can know. That's probably the one thing I'll treasure the most...the friendships made...because the journey would not have been the same without them...
Of course, there's also the sights. The views. The culture. The history. After all, that is the main reason why I chose to go on this trip. It's crazy to think that I've seen all these significant places where so much of human history unfolded...Wenceslas Square, Auschwitz, Schönbrunn Palace, the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Hitler's Bunker and seen all these epic monuments...the Eiffel Tower, the Chain Bridge, the Charles Bridge, the Fisherman's Bastion, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, Rudas Bath...all these things that I only dreamed of! While I was standing in Wenceslas Square and Auschwitz or staring at the Berlin Wall's East Side Gallery or taking a dip in Rudas Bath, there was such an overwhelming feeling of humility. Like I'm standing here where thousands of people marched for their freedom, for emancipation-- at the spot where millions upon millions of innocents were brutally murdered, stripped of their dignity-- at a wall that divided our world, our common humanity, into two spheres--at a bath erected nearly four centuries ago by the Ottomans. I've done all this and seen all this at the age of nineteen! How lucky am I? How much more blessed can a person be? My life is so much richer now having seen, lived, and breathed all that I did...
So what more can I say? It was an epic two months that I wouldn't trade for the world. Everything's different now. I'm different now and like I said, this whole new world has opened up to me and to think, I've only scratched the surface...