Sorry! I’ve been a horrible travel blogger. I still have all the photos and notes that I want to write about for each place I visited! I just don’t want to half-ass it because I want to do every place justice. I’m swamped these days with 20 hours of work every week on top of 7 courses of school and kind of a social life. And I’m sick 😥 …
So today, I was having a mini overwhelmed-with-so-much-shit-to-do moment, so, naturally, I started procrastinating and found myself scrolling through all my Europe posts. I read stories like random people I met – at hostels, stores, tours, and through Couchsurfing. People I rented a car with after 20 minutes of meeting them in some random hostel. People I met at a grocery store and had a heart to heart for hours with our feet in the gross Venice water. People who bumped into me in a line for some tourist attraction in Paris and recognized me from a class we once had together in Canada. People I met on the beach who offered me tweezers when I stepped on a sea urchin. People I was stuck with and wanted to get away from but could not because they were my host (LOL). People who hosted me because we had a mutual friend, even though they didn’t personally know ME. People who insisted on giving up their bedrooms just so I can have a room, or took days off work/school to show me around, or treated me to meals because “this is my turf and you’re not spending money on my turf”. People who go to my school and I bumped into during a walking tour through the Red Light District in Amsterdam.
I miss that. And the food. Eating gelato in every city, trying local dishes in every city. Eating snails and Italian pizza and seafood pasta and Pastei de Nata. Fish and chips all day every day. Running around town trying to find Indian food with friends. Stroopwafels! Searching for ramen because I was homesick and broke.
I had such great stories, too. The ones you know all about – being pick pocketed in Portugal and chased by a drunken man, having to fend for myself against creepy men and creepy children… but also the ones you don’t know about (yet), like meeting up with several different people at multiple points throughout Europe, meeting old friends I hadn’t seen for years, and my sketchy train ride to Venice.
The point is… it’s not exactly Europe I miss. It’s the me I was able to be in Europe. And the situation that Europe put me in. My situation, solo backpacking, created so many opportunities for me to push myself to the point that it didn’t even feel like I was pushing anymore. I felt so carefree. In the past, I never could make the first step in saying hello. Everything after hello is pretty easy, but I just couldn’t say “hello!” – but in Europe this became necessary and instinctive. I also felt like there was no version of “Nat” that I had to conform to or be consistent with because nobody around me knew anything about me. I could be whatever I wanted Nat to be, and that would be the Nat that those people would remember.
It was just nice knowing that every day, I would wake up and do whatever I wanted. I could be alone if I wanted, or have company if I wanted. If things got awkward with a group, I could leave! Haha. I had no obligations. I liked waking up and knowing there was no assignment or project or deadline. I could stay in one spot as long as I needed to get the perfect shot. I could film anything I wanted, sit and enjoy nature as long as I wanted, whip out my selfie stick proudly whenever I wanted.
I came back freer, happier, and more self-aware than before. It took me a month to adjust to a life with obligations and people I knew. And of course – there are so many perks to being home. Seeing my friends and family again, knowing everything about the transportation system/ where to buy necessities, speaking English and knowing people would understand, sleeping in my own bed, showering in my own bathroom… It was awesome.
But now I’m stuck in school with 5 part time jobs and so sick. I’m happy because I love being busy, but it kind of feels like Europe was just a dream that never happened.
I miss living in that dream.