Crazy what a year can do.

January 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

One year.

I got up at 4am and change, took a shower, and double checked my pack.  Hugged my host, Ben, goodbye in Chingford and climbed into the back of a cab for the long ride to Luton airport.  England has a beauty all her own, but it’s especially brilliant in the pre-dawn light.  I had slept for a total of one hour and 48 minutes, thanks to Benjamin’s dragging me to Winter’s Bar.  (I’m grinning.  I went very much of my own volition.)

That was a year ago.  At the end of the day, I was in Prague with what I am pretty sure is my first case of food poisoning.  What a way to meet your brand new roomie, right?  And, oh Caroline, that girl is all kinds of a trooper.

Loveys.  Amy, Caroline, a ja.

Loveys. Amy, Caroline, a ja.

Curled up in the fetal position was my position of choice for almost the entire next day.  Late in the afternoon, she cracked the door open and with the tiniest of voices muttered “Rooomiiiiiie?….Think I should call someone?”
Yes, sweet Lord.  Please call someone.
And so, I had my first tour of Prague from the back of a cab with an incredibly kind gentleman.  He knew about five English words and I knew about five Czech words, but we managed.  The Czech Republic in winter is gorgeous and, despite my sickness, I couldn’t help but notice.

I’ve said since that if I were to do it again, I would change the circumstances.  But, honestly, I don’t know that I would.  Living in that hostel with all the other students was, at times, so annoying.  I remember there were a few nights, Wednesdays and other random ones, where I would wake up at 330am because Kanye was on full blast right outside my door.  As I stumbled to the door, my brain would think “Show them love, show them love, show them love”.  And so, I would open the door, lean my head out, and yell (all squinty-eyed) “I love you!  Now, shut the f*@k up!”
It was rational at the time.  🙂

But, living in that hostel allowed me the opportunity to meet Ashley and Kelley and Alex and the list goes on and on.  The whole lot of them knew how to drive me crazy and then make me laugh about it.  Those students are some of the most beautiful walking the earth.  I have loved running into them around Raleigh in the months since.

A year out has granted me perspective.  When I arrived in Prague, I couldn’t even dream of holding someone’s hand.  As I flew back across the Atlantic in May, I watched a cheeseball romantic movie, just to see if I could feel again.  And I could.  And I cried.  They were some of the happiest tears I’ve ever wept.  Tears of joy that I could feel again, that my heart could experience ache, and that I was going home.

When I visited Europe for the first time, at 20, I remember thinking that those were my people and I had been relocated when I was a kid.  The former Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia(!) still tugs on a lot of heartstrings.  But, going the 2nd time, I think it might have been my age.  Going to another country when you’re right out of high school and not deeply rooted anywhere and your friends have only been around a year or two is fresh and exciting.  While Europe is definitely exciting, doing the same journey at 30, after living somewhere for over five years, is lonely and hard.

And then, I met Adad.
Just a few weeks in to the program, I was sitting on my bed and two of the girls come bounding in.  “AMARIS!  We have met the male version of you and he is SO NICE!  We got his business card and you seriously have to hang outttttttttt!”

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Adad on a job in Saudi.

Adad Warda and I are the same age.  He is from San Francisco, creates films for a living, and is extremely outgoing.  We graced many a pub and were up to the wee hours frequently.  My last night in Prague, we stayed up talking until we couldn’t form complete sentences.  Being a wanderer means that, sometimes, others come along on the journey that connect with you.  They are refreshing and make you laugh incessantly and introduce you to restaurants where you eat like cavemen.

Last night in Praha.

Last night in Praha.

I love how wonderful people come out of nowhere.  To quote my friend Beau, “I know of God giving you just what you need when you needed it.  He is good that way.”

And, though it certainly didn’t feel like it at the time, Praha was exactly what I needed when I needed it.  With some growing under my belt and the elimination of some stresses, I’m ready to go again.  We’ll stop in Bedford and see Faith, go hug those in Prague I miss, and I’ll finally see Italy.

It was through the generosity of many of you that I was able to go and I hope that I have been able to spend time with each of you to say thank you.  It was a long and often difficult few months, but I would do it all again.  It brought me Amy, and Adad, and healing.
It certainly wasn’t perfect.
But, the journey is the joy.

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