I just finished looking at a co-worker's pictures from her two-week trip to Italy. She is 25, and the oldest of three sisters --all of them on this sister-trip. The pictures made me ache. I literally feel my heart aching. Because I so vividly remember my trip there with Tam, and I swear to you, we have THE EXACT SAME PICTURES. The pics of goofy, jet-lagged smiles and giant glasses of wine. The pics of random handome European men -- oh, so many men! Tam and I had this thing, on our magical trip, where every time we met someone (and for some reason, they were all men), we made sure to snap a photo. Just so we wouldn't forget one tiny bit of attention, one bit of fun we had. The photos of skinny sidewalks between tall, ancient buildings, with a tuft of blue or grey sky peeking over the top. Pics from within museums, of impossibly vibrant, impossibly beautiful works of art. Seeing a new generation of young, single American girls set loose in Italy with a ton of fine Italian young men, well, it just took me back there as if it were yesterday. And it was so, so many yesterdays ago.
It's not so much Italy that I'm missing, but who I was on that trip. That hopeful, happy, brimming-with-joy person. Every possibility seemed within grasp. I had my whole future before me, anything was possible, and I swore up and down that I would live there someday. We made plans, Tam and I. We stayed up all night on many occasions talking and laughing and writing down plans in our travel journals. I had a plan to change jobs, make more money, get out of debt, then to move to Europe. Well I accomplished the first two, but got stuck somewhere before the last two. Tam made plans to somehow get back to Spain, and she did it -- within a few months of our return, she was back over there for a 3-month student program. She did it.
Oh, how full of hopes and dreams we were. We believed, with every fiber of our beings, that we could make our life be whatever we wanted it to be. I still want to believe this, but it is so hard, gets harder with each passing year. I have gotten tangled up in "real life", in working, mortgages, bills, love, so many things, but I never got around to making that particular dream come true. Whenever I get unhappy or restless, I daydream of selling everything and moving abroad. I was in that place when I landed my current job last summer, but I've been happy enough since then to sweep plans of leaving under the carpet again.
So many things have changed since that trip. Everything around me has changed, everyONE around me. And oh, I have changed too, but not in a positive way, I don't think. I so want to recapture that feeling of belief, of hope. I looked at Esa's pictures and ache with the memories, those young feelings coursing through my old veins. That's how it feels. I remember Tam and I swearing to bring that amazing energy and that feeling with us back to Austin. To live here as presently and vividly as we lived on that vacation. And we really made a go at it.
So what happened? And is it too late? I'm no longer convinced that throwing caution to the wind and moving to Europe would fix anything at this point. Because it's not that my life is broken, it's just...stagnant. I want to feel young again. I want to feel like I have options. I don't want to feel trapped anymore. I don't know how to get there, but I really really want to be there.
I'm keeping a bookmark in my browser to Esa's pictures. I'm going to look at them whenever I start feeling stuck. I may be spending an awful lot of time online, but I NEED to recapture that feeling. I don't want to go back to Europe, I don't want to see Rocco again, until I can fully experience it and live in the moment again. Otherwise it would be a wasted trip.
I can't be numb in Europe. It's imperative that I get my act together before I return. It's perhaps the most important thing in the world that I get my act together, period.
I just have to.