Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Catharsis In a Hostel Bathroom, or Wherever You Like

Everyone has in them the desire for change. We all have the simple but urgent need to evolve, transcend, morph, and come out on the other side through a carthasis of freedom, freshly reborn and shining new, as if we had just shed our old skin. Each person has their own unique way of going about change. Some people like to move to a new place, some people like to change their appearance, some people like to change their friends, or take up new hobbies. Any way it's done, it all amounts to the same thing, a change of person.

I personally like to go new places AND change my appearance. I like to take a leaping dive off of a cliff and land somewhere I have imagined in my head. However, I always forget that falling leads to panic. Before I settle into someplace new, I like to freak out my friends, family and myself by becoming a little drama queen. This is what happened when I went to Rome. I freaked out and begged to go home. Within about a week and a half, I had finally landed in the place I had imagined in my head. And so goes my life. Leap, panic, land safely with style, and repeat. I have to do this so as to make sure my life does not get stagnant, that my heart is always working because of some new adventure I have in mind.

I also like to change my appearance. I do this spontaneously, whenever I feel I have worn out a certain look til it's ragged and filled with holes. That simply won't do. When I was in Berlin, I decided to cut my hair in a hostel sink. I was sick of my hair and broke, so I did it myself. I'm sure the people who walked in the bathroom and witnessed the self-designed hair were just as amused as I was by their expressions.

Studying abroad, and I'm sure anyone who has done it will say the same, is one of the greatest and most terrifying leaps. Terrifying because you are alone at first in an unknown country, far away from home, and great because it can change your life in so many ways. It's easy to be someone new, to shed your old skin and be reborn. I assume one day I will settle down, but for now I will keep making the leap and seeing where I land.

All I Have is Time

In our last night in Rome, my friends and I went out to dinner in Trastevere. It was a beautiful little place down a tiny side street with twinkling lights and bad service, like all great Italian restaurants. My friend Alex had pasta with rabbit (delicious) and I had a risotto with the entire ocean in it (also freaking delicious.) I learned that when you are given an extra side plate with a dish of seafood, you are supposed to put the shells on said side plate and that shrimp are deceiving little bastards because when you're done taking apart all the undesirables such as the shell, legs, eyeballs, and poop shoot, what's left is only a fraction of the monster they put on your plate.

But I also learned something more extraordinary than that. My friend Alex asked us all what was the most important thing we had taken away from the experience, what was the lesson that had changed us as human beings? We all thought and it occurred to me that the biggest lesson I had learned in Rome is that I don't have to do anything with my life. Just kidding! Okay kind of. What I realized is that when I graduate from college, I don't have to immediately get a career and settle down. I can still travel, meet new people, do exciting things, I don't have to choose what I want to do with the rest of my life right now. In the words of some old wise guy or another, the world is my oyster. In the words of Lady Gaga, I'm a free bitch baby. And so on.

I used to think that as soon as I graduated I would have to get a career and start paying off loans, stay in one place, start a life. But there are so many ways to live a life. I have not seen enough or done enough to start mine yet, and all I have is time.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Roses??? For Me??? Awww

Before going to Rome, I was warned about the gypsies. I was told they will beg, steal, and coerce you into giving them money any way they can. All in all, it turns out gypsies were lazy beggers that sat on their bums all day and rattled tin cans with what little money they made in the day. I never once saw any of them make an attempt to get off said bum and even attempt to pick my pocket.

What they don't warn you about is the Bangladeshis. For lack of a better word, we called them gypsies even though we knew they weren't. Bangladeshis try to sell you crap things instead of begging, which I would say is more commendable if they way they went about it wasn't so obnoxious.

Whilst eating dinner in a restaurant, a Bangladeshi will come up to you, mid mouthful or conversation and try to sell you a rose. Whilst sitting on the Spanish steps, drinking boxed wine and soaking in the Roman sun, a Bangladeshi will try to sell you cheap bracelets, and whilst drinking in the cobbled streets of Rome, a Bangladeshi will attempt to sell you light up bunny ears. You can say no all you want, even go away, no thanks, no grazie, no mi piace, but they will still stand there for ten minutes waving their toys in your face. In the face of this dilemma, my friends and I came up with a new tactic: we would pretend to take their wares.

"ROSES?!" we would exclaim, apparently thrilled. "THANK YOU!!!!" We would take the whole bouquet and thank them profusely for the gift while they stuttered. "twenty euro, twenty euro!" Then we would walk off and they would run after us and we would hand the bouquet or the flashing bunny ears or what have you. They seemed not to bother us after that.