Thursday, April 22, 2010

If home is where the heart is, then I belong everywhere.

Right now, I'm trying to work out the finer points of wrangling a slightly earlier ticket home from StudentUniverse (fairly unsuccessfully, I might add...every agent I've talked to has had a different story about how much it's going to cost, and when I went to actually change, their computers were down and they couldn't make any changes. Oy.), in order to be home in time to attend a wedding. When this change finally and finally goes through, that means I'll have one month and some change from this exact point in time before I'm boarding another overseas flight and heading west to the States, with no English return date in sight.

I can't wrap my head around the fact that that means I've been here for three months. I arrived here on 25 January, and here it is, 22 April. Almost three-quarters of my time here has already passed. I've seen and done and learned so much, but there's so much that I wish I could have done that I know I won't get to do before I leave. It simultaneously feels like I just arrived (in full discombobulated and jet-lagged glory) a week ago and like I've been here for years. Some things haven't changed; I'm still disgruntled at the exchange rate, pubs with free wifi are still my favorite places to plop down and do homework, and my curious accent is sometimes still a novelty. But when I arrived, it was cold and snowy and everything was unfamiliar; now, spring is doing its best to fully arrive, and I've met many good friends and settled into a comfortable routine that will soon be upset by final exams and semester's-end essays, as well as the preparations for my departure.

(York Minster sanctuary at night)

It's starting to get to the point where I miss my family and friends and everything about home that's so familiar (like root beer and driving on the right, among other things). At the same time, though, I'm almost appalled by my willingness to go home and leave this place with its own distinct familiarity, and am deliberately trying to resist beginning a day-by-day countdown, knowing that once it ticks down to 0 I don't know when (or if) I'll ever have the chance to come back. As much as I desperately want to stay and to hang on to my last remaining shreds of time here, I'm ready to go home; as much as I desperately want to see my family again, and hang out with my home friends, and get/start a summer job, I'd love to stay. It's an interesting dichotomy of the anticipation to leave and the dread of it.

I've jokingly said before, "This is exactly why I need to learn to teleport." But seriously, though, if I was able to bend location and distance to my will, I wouldn't have this problem. I could wake up one morning, say, "I feel like being in York today," and be there before lunchtime. Unfortunately, this is not how travel works. I guess getting there (and, in my case, staying there) really is half the fun. If I was able to just blink my eyes and end up somewhere, then the fact that I was 3,000 miles away for four months of my life and for one semester of the eight in my college career wouldn't really mean as much...and the fact that I may very well spend the rest of my life 3,000 miles away from where I'm sitting as I type this wouldn't be quite so heart-wrenching. I'm comforted by the fact that I definitely made the right decision by coming here in being so happy and so resistant to leaving, but it's going to be tough knowing that a place I've so grown to love is going to be so hard to come back to, and even if I do, it will never be quite the same.

(The view from my window)

On Tuesday, I went to visit Katie, a longtime family friend who currently lives with her husband in Harrogate. After trading stories of various travel experiences, she talked about a friend who had come over to visit her and become enthralled by traveling. "I told her, 'I knew it! You caught the travel bug!' Once you catch the bug, you've got it for good," she said. It's so true. I don't think I'll really be able to just stay in once place ever again. I'm going to have to travel and see new things, whether I'm going across the state, across the country, or across the ocean. At the risk of being torn between staying and leaving just like I am now, at the risk of meeting awesome new people who will inevitably live too far away to see regularly (or ever again), at the risk of falling in love with something just to be relegated to loving it from a distance, I have to be able to travel. I have to be able to look back at pictures and memories and say, "Wow...what a ride." I've become much too mobile to ever be content with being stationary again.

This doesn't mean I don't love having somewhere comfortable and familiar to come home to. This doesn't mean I won't need a break from all this adventure every now and then. This doesn't mean I'll become so mobile I'll become a blur and forget the simple joys in just being still. But this does mean that I'm aware of how big the world is and how small the patches of it that I've come to love...and how little the time I have to love these patches of world while I still can.

(The River Ouse)

I have one more month to sip my English tea, traipse through the Minster, do homework in The Habit, read by the river Ouse, window-shop my way down Stonegate, and finish my time at York St. John University. It's comforting and discomforting at the same time...but home is calling, and in one month's time, I'll be answering by way of baggage claims, currency exchanges, and U.S. Customs. And somehow, by the time that month passes and I'm back on American soil, I think I'll be ready to be home.

Friday, April 16, 2010

waxing poetic at three am

I've spent thousands and wandered miles for a few forevers in an attempt to "find myself." From across an ocean, all I've really "found" is that my heart is a cruel backwards scavenger hunt. I leave bits of it everywhere I go and "find" myself in the empty, gaping puzzle piece places left by this place or that. I've strewn myself across oceans and continents and left tufts and flakes of self in lakes, rivers, and seas. The art of "finding," I'm slowly coming to realize, isn't merely acquiring. It's losing so one can acquire different, more, better, new, whole. Loss is gain and losing is finding
and becoming
and beautiful.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Photobucket > Flickr.

Clearly. I finally have all of my pictures in one place, and my Ireland pictures are now up. :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

three things...

1) I guess Flickr has some sort of photo limit. So not only did it eat my York/Whitby pictures, but there's no room for me to put up my Ireland pictures. Stay tuned for updates. Or, if you're Facebook friends with my mom, look at the ones my dad took that she put up. :)


3) Attempting to find summer employment from afar is a drag, man.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Barca, Rome, Galway, Dublin, York!

That's right, I'm back in home sweet York after two weeks of spring vacation in Barcelona, Rome, and Ireland. The Ireland part was actually a surprise...I didn't know until I was in Spain that I was going to meet up with my dad there after Rome. :)

For convenience's sake, instead of giving a huuuuge run-down of everything we did, I'll explain everything in dates and bullet points...

29 March 2010
-- Caught a taxi at 3:30 am to catch a 4:15 train to Manchester for my 8 am flight from Manchester to Barcelona. Sick.
-- Landed in Barcelona's main airport. As soon as the wheels of the plane touched the tarmac, I suddenly realised that a) I had never been to a country where at least one of the official languages is not English, and b) I did not speak the official language.
-- After lots of waiting and back-and-forth calling, met up with Brittany outside the hostel.
-- Ordered food in French, as that was the only language we had in common with the waitstaff.
-- Took naps, waited for Jeanine, and then slept some more.

30 March 2010
-- Slept til 11:30. Awesome.
-- Went to the same restaurant as yesterday, but francophone man was gone and replaced by Spanish-speaking-only man. Language frustrations ensued, but we were still able to eat (thankfully).
-- Wandered around the city looking for Las Ramblas (main road)...took us awhile. :P
-- Found Travel Bar, an international bar that sponsors lots of fun events for internationals visiting Barcelona.
-- Got told off by an older Spanish lady for not having my purse in front of me enough/too far around my side (which was probably lucky, as BCN has a HUGE pickpocketing problem).
-- Went to a Spanish cooking class, where we learned how to make tapas (appetizers), sangria (YUM), and paella (sp?)...a seafood dish with prawns, squid, etc. Yeah...I'm not a seafood person...I'm sure it was good to people who like seafood, though. :P

31 March 2010
-- Went on a walking tour of Barcelona...basically learned all the inside jokes of the city, as well as other interesting history.
-- Went shopping for breakable things (mine got home to momma in one piece! Hooraaaay! I got her a beautiful bowl from a pottery store.).
-- Got rear-ended while walking along the pier by a band of probably illegal immigrants selling definitely illegal ripoffs while they were running away from police.
-- Had Spanish quesadillas by the Mediterranean Sea.

1 April 2010
-- TOSSA DE MAR! We got up early and went to a small seaside town about an hour away by bus ( was more like an hour and a half).
-- Consumed Spanish pina coladas, as well as patatas bravas (fried chunks of potato with a spicy cheese sauce on top...SO GOOD!).
-- Wandered around a market that went down a good few blocks.
-- Splashed in the Mediterranean Sea.
-- Met an ADORABLE older English/Irish couple.
-- Wandered around the old castle/towers/village up on a hill.
-- Hiked around the trails we found up on the hill.
-- Found an old watchtower (for Moorish pirates!) pretty much by accident.
-- Had dinner and sangria by the sea.
-- Went back into town only to find we'd missed the "Magical Fountain" show in front of the Museum of Art by mere minutes. It was still a killer view, though.

2 April 2010
-- Did our own walking tour of everything in BCN we hadn't seen yet...started of at the Sagrada Familla cathedral designed by Gaudi, then went to the bullfighting ring (but not to a fight...eeww...), the Cascada fountain and park that Gaudi designed, and the Spanish Arc de Triomf (that doesn't celebrate's just copied from France's!).
-- We tried to go to our favourite markets (like the fruit market!), but they were closed due to it being Good Friday and all.
-- But we did see a cross procession through Las Ramblas.
-- Walked along the coastline up through Monjuic (a mountain area) through beautiful gardens and part of the 1992 Olympic Village up to a castle and around an old fort that we kind of found by accident.
-- Took a mini nap on a wall of the fort and got sunburned on my chest. Silly Irish skin. :(
-- Made our way back to the art museum to catch the "Magical Fountain" show.
-- Saw a flamenco show!

3 April 2010
-- Barcelona to Rome with Jeanine...our flight flew right over the coolest stuff in Rome (i.e. Colosseum, etc)!
-- Got groceries and made a delicious pasta/salad dinner...and made our own "sangria!" ;)
-- Saw the Colosseum and the Roman Forum at night...very cool indeed!

4 April 2010
-- Got up early to catch the bus to St. Peter's for Easter mass.
-- Spent 15 minutes in Mass...enough to snap some pictures and prove we were there! The rain was getting annoying at this point, too. :/
-- Got some authentic Italian pizza and gelato en route to Jeanine's church (OMG YUM).
-- Went to Jeanine's international church so we could say we actually were in church on Easter. ;)
-- Walked around all day in the rain seeing all the cool (free!) stuff in Rome, e.g. the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Jeanine's favorite gelato place, etc.
-- Had dinner in Trestevere (OH MAN WAS THAT GOOD...I will never be able to have pasta again now that I've had the real stuff!).

5 April 2010
-- Flew to Dublin and met up with Dad!
-- Got on the Go Bus that took us straight to Galway.
-- Found our hostel in gale force winds and rain and nastiness.
-- Ensured that Dad got his first real Irish pub meal. :D

6 April 2010
-- SLEPT IN! Mostly for Dad's benefit...he was getting over the jet lag, dontcha know.
-- Checked on Hope classes that the Registrar was nice enough to sign me up for...let's just say it's an ongoing process.
-- Explored the town of Galway with Dad -- saw the Claddaugh ring "Museum" (tiny room in the back of a tiny shop!), St. Nicholas Church (where Christopher Columbus once worshipped), and Galway Cathedral (where I got a Connemara marble rosary!).
-- Wandered around the Salthill area -- right on the sea. :) We went into a little coffee shop/gift shop while it rained, and then saw the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen in my life. Unfortunately, we did not get to the end of it to claim our pot of gold. ;P
-- Went to the King's Head Pub for dinner...yes, it does have something to do with Charles I.
-- Watched the Arsenal v Barcelona game in the pub...the reactions of the football fans to the game were priceless!
-- Met people from Illinois in the pub with kids who go to Notre Dame and knew Kevin Healey...whoa. Small world.

7 April 2010
-- Bus tour today! Went through County Galway and County Clare to Corcomroe Abbey, Ballyvaghn, an ancient Druid Dolmen, the towns of Kilfenora and Lisdoonvarna (home of the Matchmaking festival), had lunch in Doolin, and then stopped for awhile at the Cliffs of Moher. Holy epic.
-- Back to Galway for dinner at Monroe's, where we watched the Man U v Bayern Munich game.

8 April 2010
-- Headed back to Dublin. Dumped our stuff at the hostel and proceeded to make our own walking tour.
-- Saw Trinity College Dublin and the Book of Kells (DROOL) as well as the Long Room in the TCD library (totally geeked out. Oh man.).
-- Saw Christchurch and St. Patrick's cathedral (where Jonathan Swift was once a dean...yes. No lie.).
-- Went to two different bits of the National Museum (on two different ends of town!), but got to the second one with ten minutes to spare and then we got kicked out so they could close. Dumb.
-- Relaxed for awhile in St. Stephen's square...had a beautiful day for it, too!
-- Went back to Temple Bar and walked around deciding on a place to eat (it took awhile...we kept getting distracted by the really talented four-piece busker band). We eventually settled on Three Crown Alley, where we found out our waitress was from Chicago.
-- Went to bed early cuz my flight out was at 6 am, meaning I had to be up at four...blah. >_<

The end. :D I promise pics are coming...Flickr was just being really obnoxious yesterday, so I'm gonna see if I can't persuade it to work sometime today or tomorrow. I'll try to include stories in the captions, too (or as many as I can remember!).

Summary: Spring Break '10 = great success.