The last few years have been difficult ones. They have shaken me, tested me, provided for me, brought me joy, and allowed me to learn things about myself that I would never trade. Even for all the pain and sorrow. I suppose one cannot be reborn without going through fire first. This is the beginning of when my soul lit up… again.
After spending this time in what I call “Lone Wolf” mode (withdrawing myself from my friends, spending days and nights alone while I reflect, meditate, and understand) I decided to go on a trip. A journey to reclaim myself. A space inside my life that had only one goal: to get lost and discover. No structure. No plans. No calculated ideas about what there was to do. Just to be. And to see. To feel and learn whatever came my way.
I’m revisiting the planning stages of this trip while I write this and the theme song for Gilligan’s Island is playing in my head…
Just sit right back
And you’ll hear a tale
A tale of a fateful trip,
That started from this tropic port,
Aboard this tiny ship…
For a three hour tour,
A three hour tour.
The “plan” was this: Plane ticket to Europe. Eurail pass. Vague route of countries I wanted to visit, meeting up with friends along the way. List of a few things to do in each place – if I felt like it. That’s it. Nothing else. Which, if you know me, is the exact opposite of how I typically approach trips…er, anything. For me, this whole not planning thing is a big deal. I am an organizer, a planner, a detail lover! I wanted to un-plan this space. To gain perspective, to possibly regain a better sense of myself in the world.
It was going to be three weeks of enjoying myself, eating yummy food, observing, meeting strangers, walking in whichever direction I felt, meeting friends in a few places, and eating more yummy food. I didn’t even plan to bring any knitting with me! And “excitement” does not even cover how this trip made me feel. Liberated, hopeful, alive; These are better words. I found myself filling up in a way that I hadn’t felt in a very long time.
My trip began with a quick stay in London (a beautiful flat in Hyde park, met a few friends, wandered around the park, slept off the jet lag), spent a surreal and strange (and a little bit frightening) night in Frankfurt, celebrated my birthday in Baden-Baden (I was in Germany for my birthday!). And then… I got off the train in Vienna.
[insert all manner of magical things here. and music. and amazement.]
Of all the places on my list of things I might want to do, not one of them was in Austria. I was visiting a friend there. That was enough for me to go on. I had been travelling for almost a week with a huge backpack (many many lessons learned here, to be discussed later), I was travelling with a friend whom, to no fault of his, was getting in the way of my own self-discovery and contemplation, and I was a bit frazzled when getting to the station. But once I exited that station and put a foot on the ground… All of that swirling immediately disappeared. Something swept through me the likes of which I have never felt. I felt immediately calm, immediately grounded, and it was as though I was in the exact place I needed to be in. Not the place I should be, but the place I neeeeeeded to be. To say it was incredible is simply not enough.
I met my friend and we explored Vienna for a few days. She excitedly shared her life, her plans for a new business, and her delicious breakfasts with me. We were up late one night drinking wine and giggling when she said, “You should just move here and help me open my business.” To this I replied, half-jokingly, “Say when and I’ll be here.” As soon as these words came out of my mouth the joke half of the sentiment was gone. I was serious. Saying that out loud felt right.
“How about January…haha…giggle giggle.”
“Yeah, I think I can make that work.”
Saying this out loud, thinking this thought, felt more right than anything. Okay okay, there was wine involved. I get it. So, that’s why the very next morning I went for a four hour walk to contemplate this very thing. I mulled over everything that this kind of a move would entail. I contemplated all the reasons for why I would want to make a move such as this (helping my friend was a catalyst for the idea, but was not the main reason that drew me here). So, I concluded after that walk: Hell yeah! Why not?
I rearranged and extended the rest of my trip and ended up staying in Vienna for another three weeks. Plotting and planning, discovering and exploring. Walking for hours and hours each day contemplating and reflecting. And still. This felt right. And in the middle of doing all of that I met a man. Not just any man. A man who made me feel like a fairy tale princess (scoff if you must, but this tomboy lit up like Cinderella at the ball) the minute I met him. All the magical things I felt about landing in Vienna? Multiply that by a hundred. Yeah. That. So, perhaps moving here has more than one reason, no?