The Last Full Day

Tomorrow, I’m getting on a flight to England.

In many ways, preparing for a journey is simple.  Make a list of all the things that need to be done, line up the details, and cross them off one by one.  Pack my bags, print out flight details, and marathon the final season Downton Abbey.  (I can’t go to the UK without knowing how it ends!)

However, there are things you can’t put on a list and cross off… like emotions.

In many ways, I’m really excited to finally be on my way.  For months, I’ve been dreaming, waiting, and hoping for this journey.  It boggles my mind to think that, one week from now, I will be at L’Abri living a completely different life.

But… excitement isn’t all I’m feeling.

I’m also nervous.  Nervous about travel plans, nervous about logistics, nervous about details.  In my head, I know everything will be just fine.  The last time I flew overseas, I missed my flight and they lost my luggage, causing me to hyperventilate in the middle of the Air Canada Customer Service line.  Even if the worst happens, I know I can handle it.  But that doesn’t stop the fluttering in my stomach.

More than anything, I’m sad.  I love my family and home so much.  I’ve loved living here for the past nine months.  I’ve cherished every moment.  There are a thousand of things I’m going to miss: family dinners, sleeping in my own bed, cuddling with my cats, going for walks in the orchard…  As thrilling as change is, it’s also really hard.  Whether I come home in four months as planned or in a year, things will never go back to the way they are now.  This time at home has been, in many ways, a return to childhood.  But I’m twenty three.  I can’t be a child forever.  It’s time to grow up and move on.

I’m thirsty for adventure, but adventure comes at a cost.  Striking out solo, getting on an airplane for the other side of the world, chasing the horizon is thrilling.  But it comes with the pain of being separated from people and places I deeply love.

Ultimately, I need to go.  I feel it deep within my very being.  If I don’t take this chance, I’ll always wonder.

I’ll end this post with a quote from the book Love Does by Bob Goff.

“Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure. It’s not a trip where He sends us a rigid itinerary, He simply invites us. God asks what it is He’s made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made. And then, leaning over us, He whispers, ‘Let’s go do that together.'”

This trip is me responding to this invitation.  Whatever happens from here will be bigger and more beautiful than anything I can imagine.

The music of wanderlust

As winter progresses in Minnesota, the days grow more and more bleak.  I look outside and can’t even see the wind turbines due to the wintry haze.  All I can see is a slushy parking lot and a snow-covered volleyball court.  With a great deal of my time dedicated to writing essays and studying for next week’s final exams, daydreaming has become a constant practice.  Last night, I had a dream I was back in Austria, exploring in the mountains with my friends.

Days like today bring out the travel bug in me.  I was raised on cross-country road trips and fifteen hour drives.  Packing a bag, getting in my car, and driving somewhere far away just for the sake of adventure is incredibly appealing.

However, since taking such a spontaneous trip is impossible at the moment, I thought I’d share some songs that bring out my wanderlust.

“Down In the Valley” The Head and the Heart

“Transistor Radio” Cloud Cult

“Wagon Wheel: Old Crow Medicine Show

Happy Friday!

Sublimity, films, and Friday nights

Most college students spend their Friday nights relieving the week’s stress by piling into strangers’ crowded houses and drinking themselves silly.

Me?  After a surprise birthday party for my roommate at a local restaurant, I’m spending my Friday night unwinding in the apartment.  The cold wind is howling outside, but I’m stretched out on the couch with a cup of cocoa and  my sketchbook.  My roommates are all out, our Christmas lights are on, and I’ve popped in one of my all time favorite films.

The first time I saw Midnight in Paris, I nearly died of English major perfection.  It’s a film about nostalgia and literature, one that you cannot watch without aching for times gone by and longing to wander the streets of Paris.  The movie takes the deep musings of my soul and puts them into tangible words and images.  It’s absolutely sublime.

What’s your favorite way to spend a Friday night?

An afternoon in Austria

There are days that go by and, in three more, you can barely remember what happened.  Then there are days where, even years later, they remain permanently cemented in your brain.

A year ago, I was living in a tiny room at a university in London, England.  Many of my London days blur together, but last October 24 is one of those cemented-in-my-brain days.

It began at five o’clock in the morning.  My bag was mostly packed, but I threw in last minute essentials, took a quick shower, and was out of my flat by six.  Carrying nothing but a tiny duffel and a backpack, I took the 72 bus to Hammersmith, where I caught the Picadilly Line to Heathrow International Airport.  Several hours later, I was on an airplane bound for Germany.  After a couple hours, the rolling fields surrounding Frankfurt came into view as the airplane prepared to land.

That, friends, is when things got tense.  You see, the Frankfurt airport is enormous.  It takes hours to get from one end to the other.  And I had less than an hour to catch my next flight.  Stress was high as I pushed through passport check and security.  “What if I don’t make it?” I pushed the thought to the back of my mind where all the dark thoughts go.  People miss flights all the time, and they also get new ones all the time.  Thankfully, when I was spewed out of security, my gate just-so-happened to be the closest one.  I made it with fifteen minutes to spare!

The next flight was tiny–one of those little airplanes made to hold only twenty or so people.  I remember being crammed in next to a young man in a green athletic jacket.  It didn’t take long to realize I was the only non-German speaker on the flight, so I kept to myself.  Within an hour of takeoff, I could see the Alps coming into view.  Gorgeous mountains soon sprawled as far as my eye could see.  It was incredible.

The Austrian Alps sprawling beneath me.
The Austrian Alps sprawling beneath the airplane.  Photo taken by me.

We came into a large valley and began to descend.  The plane shook and banged about.  For a minute, I thought we were going down.  And then we landed in Innsbruck, Austria.

I exited the plane onto the runway and followed my fellow passengers into the terminal.  A few doors later, I exited the terminal completely.  There, sitting in a chair, was my friend Anna.  She took one look at me and, imedietly, we were hugging.  I looked over her shoulder and there was her mother, smiling kindly.  They were the first familiar faces I had seen in almost two months.

We then went to Anna’s house.  Exhausted after a full morning of travel, I sat on their patio basking in the warm sun.  All I remember is laughing so hard my stomach hurt.  And then, when we were done laughing, Anna’s mother came out of the house with a plate of homemade schnitzel.

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I had a GORGEOUS view of the mountains from Anna’s patio.

Later on, I got to see my other friends, Anna-Laura and Sebastian.  I also met Anna’s sister, Emma.  We wandered around Innsbruck the rest of the afternoon, through narrow streets, grand cathedrals, and along the winding river Inn.  Eventually, we found a bench to park at.  We sat there for what felt like hours, talking and sharing stories.

After two months living with strangers in London, it felt like coming home.

Local adventuring

Many a time on this blog, I’ve expressed my desire to live a life of adventure, to do something worth meaning.  That being said…

Sometimes, friends, adventure is only five minutes from home.  All you have to do it look for it.

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Me looking out at the St. Croix River at Interstate Park in Taylors Falls, Minnesota. Taken October 20, 2014.

Anniversaries and adventures

Yesterday marked the anniversary of my departure for London, England.

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I can’t believe it’s been a year already.  It feels like yesterday that I stepped on that airplane.

The thing about adventures is that they change people.  It happens in books all the time.  In The Hobbit, Bilbo returned to the Shire a very different person who left.  No matter what he did, or how much time passed, he could not go back to the simple life he had before.

My adventure changed me.  I became aware of how much I can accomplish; confident in my ability to follow through; and incredibly independent.  I learned to see the world beyond my limited American perspective.  I learned to be globally minded, and gained a deep appreciation for people and cultures apart from my own.  I got to see amazing things–the Alps, Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower, the Cliffs of Moher, the Scottish Highlands, to name a few.  I met wonderful friends that are still dear to my heart, people who understand parts of me that no one else can.  I experienced how dark this world is, but also gained appreciation for the light that does exist.

Like Bilbo, I returned home a different person.  And adjusting back into normal life was a challenge.  People who had been dear friends no longer knew how to relate to me, and I to them.  I tried, for a while, to make up for ground that I had lost while away, but eventually gave up.  Connections were lost, and I decided to move on.

Being an English major, my three and a half months abroad changed the way I read.  In my Victorian Literature class, not a day passes when my experiences fail to enhance my experience.  Just today, someone put a map of the city up while discussing a historical detail and my heart gave a tinge because I know those streets.

The other thing about adventure is that once you have a taste, it never lets go.  You’re hooked for life.  Already, I feel the desire to see lands unknown rising up in me.  I long for city streets to explore, train rides through countries that are new, and conversations with people from far away places.

Thank goodness I’ve only got one year of school left.  Because adventure is out there, and I am going to chase it.  Who knows where I’ll be a year from now?