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.

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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!

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Late Night Rambles 

What the fuck am I so afraid of? Every person has a story, a history, a future and the power to act. Every day brings with it millions of opportunities for life to go one way or the other. It’s all about choices we make and the convuluted act of just going for it. 

We (maybe I should say I, but a collective make it easier to swallow) want to do something. Then, we spend so many days, months and years talking about it instead of acting. What is with human nature that makes us this way? We all know that life is finite, yet we procrastinate carelessly until it’s too late. Only then do some of us wake up and wish we could’ve done it all differently. 
Not me. Not anymore. 

I am going for it. I only have small inklings of what it is, but I will know when I’ve done it. I can feel that is the truth. I’m trusting intuition, finally. 

I am going to explore and do things I’ve never done and see what I come back with, or without. Mind games and tricks can put illusionary limits on capabilities. I am learning to quiet those unneeded thoughts. There’s a whole lot of brain power that I won’t allow to be left unused and potential lingering that needs to be ignited. 
T-3 days until takeoff. 

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.

Post EuroTrip Reflections

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After traveling around Italy, France, and Spain for the past month, I have truly grown as a person. There’s a quote that says, “Travel is the only thing you buy, that makes you richer.” I whole heartedly believe in that statement. I’ve always been firm on believing that money does not make you happy. Granted, it’s needed to live and survive/do what you’d like to do, but it’s definitely not the end all be all in life. America has this way about it that’s based on this fictitious “American dream.” Over the years, this so-called “dream” has just become a euphemism to say, “get rich or die trying.” Ironically, I’m not BUYING it. Since America was born without a real cultural identity, it grew out of a staggering amount of tragedy and a false sense of superiority. So, we have created a society that values cars, clothes, and status symbols over a life filled with community, love, care, and kindness. Of course, these same pervasive values are seen in European culture to an extent, but as I was walking around the beautiful cobblestone streets, I felt a sense of history, culture, art, and community. People sit at cafes for hours conversing with one another, eating slowly, and enjoying their conversations. I am really not trying to romanticize this reality, but rather make it clear that there is a stark difference when crossing the ocean. Cell phones and tablets have become appendages, text messaging has replaced verbal communication, and eye contact is something that children almost seem to fear nowadays in California. I say California because I haven’t been to all the states, but of all the states that I have been to in America, this epidemic is real and exponentially growing.

Nonetheless, my month abroad has taught me many valuable lessons. I truly do believe that there’s no better way to learn about life, history,culture, art, and people than to venture outside of your borders, both literally and figuratively. Putting down my phone for longer than I have for a while and being away from a computer allows for the time to experience moments and emotions in a different way. There are certain very important things in life, many of which are realized by seeing different parts of the world and being entirely present. The journey has contributed to the immense gratitude I feel to have what I have. I am not talking about the tangible objects in my possession, but rather, I am just thankful to be able to see, touch, taste, feel, hear. The opportunities I’ve worked for, including: getting an education, traveling outside of America, and meeting people along my path have been imperative in shaping the person I am today and the person I am becoming. I know that I have a purpose, and there’s something out there waiting for me to be able to give back and make a difference. Everyone that crosses our path gives meaning to our life and teaches us a lesson. This past month has probably been the best and most liberating month of my life. There’s an art in being able to decide what to take seriously and what to forget about. There’s beauty in understanding that you are a very small piece of a large, moving puzzle. And, there’s peace in realizing that sometimes the best way to grow is to let go of wanting to be in control, and instead following what feels right at the time, in the present moment without any worry about the future.

Time x Travel

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“I’ve been allotted time. I don’t know when it starts. I don’t know when it runs out. All that I know is that it is all I have.”

And with that, he hopped on the redeye. Destination-overseas. The sea does not matter, nor does the country where he will touch down. The fact of the matter is that he was taking the time he had and spending it very wisely, both expediently and in his own best interest.

As the plane ascended into the air like a space shuttle catapulting into the galaxy, he closed his eyes. Looking out of the window only gave him anxiety as the Earth got further and further away. The way the distance made the gargantuan objects look like miniscule parasites. It was the way he saw himself, in actuality. In his own mind, he was large, and the world revolved around his vast thoughts. But, in the great scheme of everything else, he was merely a microscopic piece of the puzzle.

Jet setting away. Leaving everything he had known behind in hopes of absolutely nothing. Zero expectations to fill his mind so that it was as open as an empty vase upon arrival. Ready to be filled with all sorts of beautiful treasures, memories that would grow until they died in the vase of his mind.

Headphones enveloped his ear like a baby swaddled in a soft blanket, distributing warmth throughout his body. The melodies playing calmed his nerves, but also jolted up a passionate feeling within his bloodstream. Flying over the clouds, soaring so high as they changed shapes creating masterpieces. The type of pictures thought up only in a child’s imagination; his mind was at ease.

The sounds of the jet mellowed as the plane glided in the empty air. It was everywhere, but it was also nowhere.

Living in a boundary-less space, both mentally and physically.

The destination’s objective was to achieve peace, but the peace was already within. This was exactly what he came to realize just as the wheels catapulted onto the asphalt. So, he exited the plane, stepping foot on to foreign land. Arriving with nothing but a smile, and his time.