“Go study abroad.” A friend – one with the distinct honor of being more like family than friend, despite us only having met a handful of times before – gave me this one piece of advice the summer after I turned nineteen. I remember feeling so old at nineteen: confident that I knew exactly what was what and how the world looked, despite never having traveled much before. I had just met this friend for the first time since we were kids and was staying with his family in New Jersey. He was several years older than I and enthusiastically regaled me with his own travels and plans to study for his master’s degree in England. One short year later, he died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. It seemed unbelievable that such a smart and dynamic guy was gone at so young of an age, but I remembered his advice to me and the following spring I took off for a semester in Italy.
Italy: a country steeped in history, romance, beauty, and wine; gorgeous vistas and precious artwork at every turn. A country so iconic, the entire time I was there I just couldn’t stop smiling. Traveling in Italy gave me an incurable case of Wandering Fever that keeps me itching to explore the world to this day. It was a major part of why I spent several more summers studying and living in Europe. My time spent in Italy stirred both a deeper love of art and a new-found obsession with writing and blogging. This was also the first time in my life I felt a true understanding of independence, the important of self-sufficiency, and confidence in one’s own style. Kovai, thank you so much for spending that one week of that beautiful summer convincing me that I needed to throw myself out at the world and learn to fly. Thank you for being like a big brother to me during that trip and inspiring me with your love of life! xox
Throwback to a blog post from April 22nd:
Today I sat on the steps in Piazza Republica and watched a cat. Sleek and tawny, I’m sure he’s fed daily by everyone in Cortona. He was sprawled out haughtily in the middle of the piazza when I arrived with my pizza and made myself comfortable on the sun-warmed steps. His expression was one of disdain, caring neither to move for cars or people, yet not letting anyone touch him either. He was like a rich man with an expensive sports car, pleased by how everyone was looking at him with slight awe in their gazes. When attention began to fade, he immediately recaptured it by springing up and stalking pigeons. As pigeons are the arch enemies of almost everyone (is it possible that anyone likes these fidgety, dirty birds?), we were all immediately rooting for him.
A couple of steps and then down: watching them with a lazy look in his eyes, mocking both us for watching him and the birds for not heeding his dangerous presence. They scurried around, picking at the crumbs of tourists. I’m not sure if they really haven’t got a care in the world or if their brain is just too small to comprehend their own meaningless existence. Every time he got closer, they’d suddenly see another crumb farther on and dart after it. They never seemed to see him, yet always managed to keep moving away as a group. His tail swished impatiently, sensing the crowd’s losing interest. A couple of people walked away, disappointed in his lack of a kill. The pigeons kept moving: some grabbing at crumbs too big for them and almost choking. “Get them, get them!” We were all encouraging the cat, feeling slightly sorry for this pompous sir. Finally, a couple of quick steps, a flurry of wings, and a leap into the air!
Pride dented, the cat was sprawled back down on the ground. “Never meant to actually catch the dirty things,” he seemed to say. “I missed on purpose.” An old man shuffled past, giving the cat a sympathetic ruffle on the head.
Want to read more about my amazing trip? Check out my travel blog here. Then leave me a comment below and tell me about the first time you really felt like you spread your wings! <3
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