Everything I am immersed in while travelling is unfamiliar. After a while the unfamiliarity can have this numbing affect. The newness is more of a passing thought, “Oh this is so beautiful,” “Nice to meet you,” as the new faces and places pass by. But in realization of these small moments is where travel magic lies.
I was just in Berlin with a friend from high school, the type of friend where words are like vomit and you’re looking at pieces you’re not sure you ate. We were talking about connections and the big and small moments of our travels. I think with all the bumps along the road I forgot what my travel connections were made of.
There aren’t always BIG moments. Being in Ireland was so different and so much of everything I was looking for that is was made of many small GRAND moments that were easy to share and see. My New Years was one of the most entertaining and unforgettable evenings/ mornings I have ever had. What happened in Scotland really separates me out from the rest. In those stories lie the GRANDEUR of travel. But travelling is still life and life on the road isn’t automatically a different life, it is still my life. Even in LARGENESS I sometimes express disconnect, I am working on my grass is always greener outlook. Basically I’m saying looking for a diamond is pointless in a sea of jewels.
Today I landed in Madrid, and I have been so excited to get to Spain. I quickly realize no one speaks English, at all, not even a “I don’t speak English.” Just a “No,” then very fast Spanish. I use extremely bad Spanish to get around, but with many hand movements and picking up so some key words, I’m ok. After an hour of walking with my laptop backpack weighing down on my shoulders I arrive at what I believe is Retiro’s park just because it screams splendor. I collapse on a bench exhausted and turn my face to the sun feeling the warmth wash over me. Everything in my body felt the tension of lack of sleep and lots of walking and then slowly I relaxed, like you do when sinking into a comfortable bed after a really long day. I keep my eyes closed for awhile and when I feel the sun shift I open them and stare at the black/brown branches against the blue mostly cloudless sky. I heard runners sneakers crunching on the sidewalk and birds being birds. I thought this is where my travel magic lies. In the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday I can really feel this park the way I never could feel the piece of grass I awkwardly sat in on my lunch hour, really 42 minutes, while I was working my 9-5. I can take this moment and let it wash over me, through me, and understand a piece of something.
For some people travel lie in the ridiculous stories of nights out and adventures with strangers you meet at the hostels. For me it is that too, but mostly it isn’t. That isn’t why I set out to do this.
For me it lies in hitchhiking for the first time and having the young dad who picked us up ask me for advice about motivating his daughter. It is meeting a boy on a plane and becoming the type of friends who get coffee and update each other on our lives. It is trying every vegan restaurant in Glasgow. It is moving hay for three hours. It is listening to French rap in a gorgeous flat in Brussels with a guy I met two years ago. It is being at a birthday party in Holland and connecting with a woman who invites me to her home for the summer. It is being in a club in Berlin and having strangers touch you. It is spending three weeks with a girl non-stop and missing her when she leaves. It is having someone tell me I’m a “stay” people. It is eating vegan for 5 days. It is spending three hours trying to get two donkeys back behind the gate. It is touching knees with strangers who don’t speak my language. It is walking a horse on a dark road with trucks and cars driving by. It is getting shown way too many youtube videos and me trying to escape in a one room flat. It is watching a lot of movie classics. It is not wearing a bra for two weeks. It is really not liking a girl then completely changing my opinion about her and actively seeing that no, I do not know all. It is doing yoga in front of a burning fire. It is watching my friend sing at an open mic in Manchester and being her manager for a night. It is cutting down my own Christmas tree. It is getting into all 5 grad schools I applied to. It is being surrounded by pink moss and tall green trees. It is being in the evolution of a 5 day relationship. It is being on a farm by myself for a day and realizing I knew how to do everything and really feeling proud and relaxed. It is being honest. It is mediating for the first time and crying afterwards and having a friend of nine years hug me.
It is travelling for 9 hours and seeing the smiling face of a person I just met but feel really safe with.
These moments and many, many more like these fulfill my travels. These are the moments that I will remember along with the LARGE ones. They aren’t all HUGE stories of romance and scandal, rather quiet exploration that is LOUD to me. In the end the BIGNESS is in the small, and that makes me happy.