After a week in Barcelona, a week in Venice, and a weekend in Milan, I have realized two things: 1. The world is incredible. 2. One must pace oneself in order to experience it as such.
Each day, I’ve needed to find a new pace. Some days, I’ve been tired, but pushed myself just enough; other days, I’ve awoke three hours too early to fulfill the excitement that emanated through my body; and of course there have been days when I’ve set out at the wrong pace, and have had to adjust to find one that felt right.
At the right pace, I’ve soaked in some of the most incredible sights, some of the greatest people, and some of the weirdest literary texts. Each place I’ve stayed has also reminded me of who I am, who I was, and who/how I want to be. Likewise, these moments have reflected the environments that allow me to grow, and those which prove more difficult to navigate, even with the best map.
On my twenty-second birthday, I left Barcelona with a new set of peaceful, happy, and authentic memories with my dad. I felt the gratitude for myself, my father, and our circumstances, which made possible such a gift. I remembered how important it is to take advantage of the time I have with my family, to play a role and be a person that I want to remember, and to collect as many good memories as I can.
The same day, I landed in Venice and over the following week, was met with a city I did not remember. I could not find the streets I once walked through in 2012, nor could I recall what sights I did or did not see. Each area I visited and each landmark I passed could not penetrate my memory, which remained foggy and out-of-place. What I remembered was who I was then and who I am now. I saw my growth and I decided to let go of chasing after the past, falling back on a more genuine present.
In the present, I’ve realized how much I value good friends, good weather, and exploration, all of which I’ve been lucky enough to have in this city. And when challenged by what I have had trouble finding, I have learned more prominently of my desires. Finding my way through the narrow calli, I have remembered the comfort of spaciousness. Waiting for vaporetti, I have gained gratitude for my ability to walk where I need to go. Living on a small, estranged island, I have remembered how much I love the liveliness and magnitude of a city. And when entering a city that depends almost entirely on its tourist industry, I have missed freedom from crowds and vendors who either compete with you or for you.
Arriving in Milan, I saw how carrying with me what I loved in Venice and seeking what more I wanted, I could grow my own bliss, with the help of others. And when it was time to leave, I remembered my ability and what I needed to foster the joy I had felt.
Some days are more spectacular than others, and all of the days inevitably come to an end, as will this trip in a few weeks. My memories will fade and my relationships will not last forever. But the power I feel knowing I have this for now, and more importantly, that it is possible to create and feel and grow things that are beautiful and genuine, is something I hope I remind myself to remember.