Day 1-1.5: LAX to Germany to Italy

The journey begins like most do in Los Angeles, sitting in traffic on the 405. Rushing to LAX during typical Sunday afternoon traffic, we met our incredibly interesting Uber driver named Sandro (originally from Brazil). He, my mom and I spent the ride discussing his personal story, various adventures, and how travel offers the beautiful lens to see and appreciate the world differently.

We arrived just in time to the Tom Bradley International terminal to board our flight with Florence, Italy as our first stop on a three country journey for her (Italy, Israel, Spain) and an open jaws trip for me (Western Europe and Israel).

My mom has been dreaming of seeing Italy since she can remember, and since my sister is getting married in Israel in about two weeks, so we decided now is the time to make it happen. Then, my mom and I will visit Spain before I go on #SoloAdventures to various stops in Western Europe before heading back to Los Angeles (and then hopefully hitting the road shortly thereafter).

My first accomplishment, of which the Air Berlin check-in agent agreed, was packing a roughly 25 pound (12 kg) backpack for a two-month or so adventure. I’d say I knocked traveling light out of the park. For all you travelers out there, only pack what you absolutely need, roll it, rubber band it, and stuff in a travel backpack… not a suitcase! My mom, on the other hand, can’t say she accomplished the same, and already wishes she had done so.

After meeting about 5 other travelers along the way and randomly running into an old friend from elementary school, we boarded the completely sold out and crammed Air Berlin flight to Düsseldorf, Germany. To say we were like sardines is an accurate and clichéd description of the situation. Landing to a delayed by one hour layover (for a total of 3 hours), we were met with a lot of German and my mom’s deliriousness before boarding our propellor plane on to Florence. As she napped on me, I watched the clouds float above the mountainous and lush landscape of Europe, excited to return to the beautiful city of Firenze.

IMG_0460  IMG_0466.JPG  IMG_0463 (1)

We landed in Florence to warm sunshine and were met by our wonderful Airbnb host, Michele, who gave us insight into what to see around the city.

Obvious mission one: pizza, wine and the Duomo. After just a few sips of wine, mom was drunk. That and her admitting this is like being in a different world all made for a successful day 1-1.5? (time changes are crazy). Mission complete!

IMG_0482

IMG_0480.JPG

IMG_0494

IMG_0490

 

One Way Ticket

I’ve got a one-way ticket, my passport, and an open mind with the willingness to tear down the boundaries of my comfort zone. It’s like spring cleaning for my life, yet again.

There’s something about summer coming that makes me want to escape and start fresh. It’s like being in school for so many years gave my mind, body, and soul the muscle memory to get away for a few months, take a break, and then jump back into routine. But, what if there was never meant to be a routine? Society has this way of making you think you have to do what everyone else is doing and puts this notion of success at the end of a supposed, and possibly illusionary path.

And then, writing it down makes everything so real. Like the truth of your inner self is staring you back and asking you what you’re going to do next. I don’t know.

I sat in the sauna today and watched my sweat roll off of my chin and hit my hands, cascading into a puddle on the floor. I was there, but I wasn’t there. I was just watching things happen to my body and the people around me, but letting everything go in and out, like watching a screenplay unfold and accepting whatever was to come. A man slipped down from leaning against the wall and fell to the floor. Slightly embarrassed, he quickly stood back up like nothing happened. On my part, there was zero judgment. Just an understanding that the floor is wet, and yeah, shit happens, but you get back up and readjust yourself the next time you lean back on the wall. Learn from your experience.

Like the drops of water and the man, I think that’s the way life is meant to be lived. Letting things roll and fall however they may, and being accepting of the outcome, while also knowing when to wipe it all off and try again, taking with you what you know and being open to knowing that there is still a lot you don’t.

Un-Love Letter to Los Angeles

I’m not at home in the city
I grew up in
flashing lights illuminate like
the false renderings of imagined selfs
only to go dim when the daylight shines through

real light, realize

Seeing through this facade of a society
embellished with filters and fickle-minded youth
growing up into adults who run from

commitment

who fall into traps of pretend tomorrows
imaginary concepts that can’t come to fruition
because hope is easier to tread
when fear is locked behind lies

misspoken truths are stretched to their limits
breaking points more shallow than the Pacific’s shore
specifically, when the sun always shines
where’s the shelter

for the soul and body that does not belong?

Timepiece

He wore time like an accessory
His steps told a story
Of heartache, betrayal, triumph
And love lost
There was a little bit of
His missing pieces in everyone
Passerbys searching for eternity
Searching for unconditional love
To shade them from the demons
But when he turned the corner
He walked on by as if
He forgot purposely to try and remember

No Justice, No Peace

The saying goes, “History repeats itself.” Andy Warhol said, “Life is a series of images that change as they repeat themselves.”

While American soldiers were fighting wars in Europe and Vietnam, we had segregation on our soil. While we are focused on senseless terrorist attacks both domestic and foreign against innocent individuals, our friends are being shot- point blank for living and being black.

Headlines cover the news of lives lost at the hands of cowards preaching ideology for a group looking to seize control of freedom, while those who are supposed to guard our freedom continue to murder without remorse.

While I am not a black male, I am no stranger to racism, and I am not one to turn a blind eye in ignorance. We’ve continued to condone a society with structural and inherent flaws, built on lies of equality. It’s a society that preaches liberty and justice for all, but always with conditions. Freedom is supposed to be unconditional-  it’s like love.

When social media hashtags become a call, no, a cry for reform, while people use the same tools for selfies, we need to remind ourselves to be selfless. Turn the camera around, look outside of your colored lens and see that America is still painting pictures in black and white. And it’s become more white versus black and brown and yellow and blue with each passing day.

We still have a ways to go, and we need a justice system that is what it says it is, because right now, there’s no justice|no peace.

#altonsterling