Certaldo, Italy – October 11th to 13th 2013
Over the years, I have travelled with my parents, with boyfriends, with my sister, with my friends, with coworkers, with follow students and with strangers. I have travelled on ferries, busses, planes, trains and cars. I have travelled to budget hostels, 5-star resorts, gites, pensiones, rental apartments, downtown hotels and I’ve even slept under the stars. My first international trip was to Spain when I was 18 months old and since then I’ve taken more flights than I can count. But at age 27 I had never travelled to a non-English speaking country alone.
There I was all alone in a dim, draughty airport realizing that if I was lucky I would be spending the night on a plastic bench. Gone were my visions of Starbucks’ comfy couches and wifi, gone were my dreams of restaurants with hot food and glasses of wine, gone was my hope of checking my bags. So why was I at an empty Liverpool airport at 11pm when my flight to Naples didn’t leave until 6am the next day? Because I was trying to be a savvy budget traveller.
Sometimes the path less travelled is not the best path to take. While I, like many travellers, often try to experience a place like a local and stay away from the crowds, sometimes the path of least resistance might just be the best one. I personally discovered this when I found myself on a journey that consisted of a twenty minute slog to the bus station, a two hour bus ride into another country, an eight Euro cab ride to the docks, an hour long wait before a three hour ferry ride and then another two hour train ride. How did this happen? Not because I was trying to be adventurous or unconventional, but because I am a terrible planner.
This will be my last week as a resident of Northern Ireland. Come this Saturday, I am moving out of my rental house and on to my next adventure. After almost exactly six months here, I feel like it is definitely time to move on. But before I do so, I think it is worth reflecting on my time here, both the good and the bad, and all things I have learned.
Great Expectations. Charles Dickens. 1861.
We can control our actions. We can control our choices. But we cannot control our emotions. In Great Expectations, Pip knew to his detriment that he loved Estella against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.
In moments of confusion and apprehension we seek clarity. At times even those we love cannot help. In my longing and loss, I searched my heart but found only conflict. I sought wisdom, understanding and clarity in the cards.
What I found was a sense of peace, of calm, of connection.What I found was heart-breaking. What I found I know to be true in my heart. What I found is only one of the many, many futures that exist.