I’ve been back in the states for one week, now. It’s not as strange as I’d expected it would be. I thought that it to be like watching TV for the first time in a really long time, the way it all seems so fake. All in all though, it’s just life in a different place. I’ve experienced so many in the past month that coming back here is just one more–one final destination, home. Upon my return I feel full, I feel voluptuous and I feel like I have more to offer my own people, my own little world.
The Places I went
The People I Met
The Food I Ate
A few things that I learned while in Europe:
• Beauty can be expressed so easily and simply.
• Just because there’s Arabic on the sign, doesn’t mean that it’s a falafel shop.
• The meaning and full expression of the word “licentious”.
• I want a waffle maker.
• Men can carry purses and be cool.
• Tobacco is the club soda of pot smoking.
• Be really nice to your travel companion.
• A pocket full of change can buy a lot.
• Always carry condoms.
• Real freedom comes without a price tag or a drive to increase your earning potential.
What I’ll miss most:
Spontaneous public gatherings – This was my very favorite thing about Europe. The cops do not chase you away when you gather outdoors for the sake of it. I know this makes me sound like a big boozer, but the “open container” laws in the states really squelch the potential for the kind of community that I witnessed in the cities I visited… mostly Paris, Cologne and Berlin.
Making Art Everyday – I am an artist!!!! I forget this most of the time, ’cause I get so caught up in my everyday life of work, laundry, gardening, meals… you know how it is. My busyness really makes it difficult for me to find the time to be a creative. I know it’s possible though. After all, I’m not in prison! Being an artist for 19 days while I traveled really woke something up in me. It’s now my responsibility to not let it fall asleep again. Cynthia wrote about my creative transformation in her blog, check it out >
Urban Living – I’m such a city girl! I think that I’m meant to have the city street just outside of my window. Luckily, I can at least see the city just through my window at home…. but there’s something about the buzz of activity and being able to just step out and be in it all. I love it.
Un Cafe s’il vous plaît! – Stops at the little street cafes for that single shot of espresso to open up my eyes and heart just a little wider, any time of day were the best.
Inexpensive Local Wine – Why is it that wine California wine isn’t really any cheaper in California? French wine in France, Italian Wine in Italy, they are super affordable and this seems to connect the people, even more so, to their own place.
The slowing down of time – Seeing, thinking about and experiencing things for the first time really made each day feel like it was about 72 hours long. So my average of 5 hours of sleep a night, was more like 15.
What I’ll miss least:
The Language Barrier – It was uncomfortable when I wanted to say something friendly or polite and didn’t know how to communicate it. I’m really lucky to be from an English speaking country, as it’s a commonly known language. 70% of the times I asked someone if they spoke English, they’d say “a little” and I was surprised to learn how much.
Poo Poo Platter Potties – The toilets in Germany and Amsterdam have this high and dry spot that your shit lands on, so it’s exposed before you flush. It sure puts one in touch with their dietary health (aside from the “how much fat is in my diet?” float test). It also stinks up the bathroom a lot more.
Hmmm… That’s all I can think of right now….
Cynthia and I.
It was hard when on the move
best when we were high.
I did a little logo job for Cynthia before we left, which she milked for every last revision, so it seemed a fair trade that she would plan our journey. She interviewed me over dinners at my place and lent me travel books from the Boulder library and together we decided where we would go and how long we would stay in each location. She found our apartments, arranged the train tickets, and did the Couch Surfing requests. Whenever we arrived in a new city, she held the map and let me follow along with my head on a swivel, just taking it all in. She went above and beyond. What she gave me was a gift that I will treasure forever!
You knew when to stop for waffles and fries.
You never kept me from stopping to take it in, write it down, or sketch it out.
You could always find us on the map and didn’t argue when it was time to hand it to me.
You were the Rollmeister.
You always encouraged and inspired me to make my art.
You shared your photos, your gift of language and your perspective.
You stopped to talk it out.
You cooked for me and saved me from eating nothing but bread and cheese.
You made sure that missing the train was NOT AN OPTION.
You taught me the words “capacious” and “licentious”.
You gifted me with the red one and made my color set complete.
You shared your computer so generously.
You made my first European Adventure!!!!
Travel Changes One
Of course I’ll go back to a lot of my old habits and ways, but I know that this trip has made a real mark on me. Since I’ve been home, I bought an Italian espresso pot, I biked instead of drove for the first 5 days, I’m making art a little, and I’m not saying “like” and “do you know?” nearly as much. I hope that a little bit of European style, visual and culinary art, culture, and romance have rubbed off on me.
Thanks for reading!
Great post! It’s not easy to summarize a trip like that. You did a great job. I don’t miss those toilets, either!
So glad you made it home and are ready to have an even more creative summer. Enjoy your new European flair!