Traveling through the darkness.

It’s day four of my internship in Bulgaria. I have the day mostly off and I’ve spent it doing yoga, cleaning, and thinking. With me on the floor of this building are three other interns, all of whom are from the States studying the same thing I am. They’re in their rooms ‘working on their blogs’ and I too felt a desire to write. I thought about writing an entry for each city I’ve visited this past month, entries full of VSCOcam photos, captions, and observations about the food, people, and sites. But that’s not what this blog is for, and I’ve never been good at writing that. Here’s the truth of things: traveling is hard. It hasn’t been a vacation. It’s been sweat, sore feet, naps in public places, and putting in effort to make friends. It hasn’t been relaxing because I’ve been on the move constantly. Being in 2-3 countries in one day hasn’t been uncommon for me. But, despite the days when I think it’s too much, I wouldn’t change anything. Every time I missed a train connection, showed up late for a ticket I already paid for, or got too drunk and couldn’t make it to a reservation, I had an entirely new experience than what I expected. My anxious mind desires perfect plans made in advance, but travel does not obey anxiety. And when things got fucked up, I got to see things I otherwise wouldn’t have (sketchy train stations in Florence, a pizza made in Naples, a beautiful man in Rome). The world has given me so much. In a way, it has silenced my anxiety; reality trumps anxiety every time. I was in a dark place when I left the States. I’d had a few nights only days before leaving where I sincerely questioned what the meaning of everything was (I was close to concluding that there was no meaning for anything). Certain days were full of lines I’d memorized from Kate Chopin’s ‘The Awakening:’ “There were days when she was very happy without knowing why. She was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the color, the odors, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day. She liked then to wander alone into strange and unfamiliar places. She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in. And she found it good to dream and to be alone and unmolested. There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why—when it did not seem worth while to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead; when life appeared to her like a grotesque pandemonium and humanity like worms struggling blindly toward inevitable annihilation.” I’d felt a lot like a worm struggling toward annihilation. Death terrifies me, the unpredictability of it. There were nights I dreamed of dying in the middle of the Colosseum, torn open by the jaws of a lion. Daydreams gave me visions of falling into the rocky abyss of the Cinque Terre, tripping off the top of a mountain in Bulgaria, crumbling into convulsions on the streets of Germany. I felt certain that I’d die soon. And I couldn’t decide if I felt nervous about it or ready for it. Perhaps that’s what worried me the most- my disinterest in my impending doom. But I got to Europe and I saw the Duomo in Milan and I no longer dreamed of dying but of walking further, of getting on the train and making it to wherever I wanted to go next. The end was no longer the crux of my imagination. Moment to moment living let me taste every seasoning in my pasta, let me hear what my laugh actually sounds like. I’ve been tired. I’ve been sick. I’ve been extremely lonely. But I’ve been happy. And this is the first time I’ve said that and meant it in months. I can’t say if it will stick when I return home. But for now, I’m enjoying the excitement I feel when I enter into my room at night, when I walk in the 90 degree heat to work or to dinner, when I scroll through my instagram and feel pride at the person I am. I’m falling in love with this place and with myself.

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