Wednesday, January 30, 2013

European Limbo

It became more and more difficult to blog about certain days once the day had passed, and I didn't want to blog out of order. I fold. I am going to start blogging out of order.

I apologize in advance that this post has less to do with the events and performances on the trip and more about what the experience meant to me. And it's horribly unorganized.

 On the flight home, I leaned into Foster and said, "When I get home I'm going to listen to my music SO HARD. I miss my speakers."

        Four and half life-changing years of undergraduate study under my belt, and I hadn't gone on a J-term trip. It was hard enough finding the courage to take out loans for college in the first place. I grew up believing that college was not an option for children of my family's socioeconomic status. My senior year of high school, my guidance counselor (I cannot thank her enough) put it simply, "You're going to college." She set me straight. If it wasn't for her I may not have accomplished everything I did. Thanks to my drive and hard work I now hold a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education - exactly what I set my sights on five years ago. Just before my final semester, my advisor told me, "If you're going to take a trip, now is the time to do it. You may not get another chance."

   I jumped through many flaming hoops to make it happen. I finally traveled overseas, something I legitimately thought I would never do in my lifetime. This trip was a very big deal to me. It didn't sink in even went we arrived in Frankfurt, Germany.


        When I was little, I hated Shelton, I hated being home. Nothing excited me more than when the family decided to go out on the rare occasion. I concluded at a young age that I was happiest when traveling. That was entirely true, but why? I just didn't like being home. I had this perpetual feeling of cabin fever. Once I started living in Shelton in 1996 we never traveled anywhere. I was stuck there. I wanted nothing more than an escape.

Laguna Beach, California
        Then I went to college. My world was suddenly larger, though it only expanded by an hour distance from Shelton. I did a lot of growing up. My views on almost everything changed for the better. My first time flying was December 2011. I went to visit California. It was enriching. I loved the change of scenery, different people, completely different atmosphere. At that point I was still a firm believer that living out of a suit case didn't sound like the terrible life TV and movie characters tried to convince me it was.

Bratislava. This guy came up and started copying us.
        But after all this time dreaming of a life on the road, there I was almost wishing I had never left. By the third day in Salzburg all I wanted to do was go home. I sat there one night reevaluating how I felt about traveling. I am now convinced that my soaked, frozen feet negatively colored my opinion of the experience up until I got boots that were actually waterproof. Until Prague, every time we walked in the snow, I was miserable. I got sick in Slovakia probably due to having waterlogged feet 24/7.

On the bridge in Prague.
I met Dvorak. We are a handsome couple.
        Everyone on the trip was so nice, but I felt rather lonely in Salzburg and early Vienna. Then things started turning around. Finally reunited with music of my choice, I was recharged. I clearly needed a palate cleanser. Prague was by far my favorite place. It was probably a combination of the city being a little more modern to my taste and the wonderful new friends I made. And my new boots. A week into the trip and all I wanted to do was go home. By the time we got to Prague, I didn't want to leave.
Best Prague graffiti ever.

       I wanted to stay in Prague but I was excited to hear music from my speakers and to see a special someone. On the flight home, I leaned into Foster  and said "When I get home I'm going to listen to my music SO HARD. I miss my speakers." The members of the trip more or less scattered upon returning to America.

       We were all so tight for the past three weeks, but before I could think... everyone was gone. The airport was full of disenchanting good byes and the lacking luxury of European bathrooms. There were plenty of people in the Seatac airport but it felt so empty.

It was a silly place for this to happen but as I was leaving the bathroom I began to cry. It hit me.

I just realized what happened. It finally sank in: I went to Europe.

Including a dime, I know
        Drove back to campus - I walked into my room and looked around at everything I own. I survived three weeks without it all. What did I need it for now? I had to switch gears quickly as I have a lot of things to do to get my life in order.

I didn't listen to my speakers... I just sat there. I pulled the crowns and euros from my pocket and set them on my desk. they had no value here. I stared at them ignoring everything else. I didn't want it to be over. I wanted to feel like I was still in Europe. I used nothing from my room for a while. Only the things I had with me for the last three weeks.

        From knowing almost no one at the beginning of the trip, I really wish I could see everyone again right now.

        For most of the other students, this trip was a great study away opportunity in the middle of their college experience. I was one of two people on this trip that had already finished what we started four and a half years ago. This trip was something completely different for me. It marked the beginning of new life. I knew everything would change after Europe in many ways. But I didn't think it would hit me like that. This trip was the pivot point between being a student and being an adult putting expensive education to good use. I had been in America all this time being under someone's wing - my parents home, family friends' homes, the support of PLU. But now I'm on my own for the first time.

What hit me in the airport...real life starts now. And I am terrified.
                         I was in limbo all that time in Europe. It's time to get serious.

Right now I just want my red couch time back.
And we never found that instrument shop.
We have to go back.

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