from pisa to rome; the beginning.

(march 16th, 2014)
I sit here on a train at sunset passing through the Italian countryside. I see men smoking in their backyards, women washing clothes and hanging them out the window. For a while I saw the sea. I imagine a place where young Italian men and women jump carefree into the ocean. I hear Nona’s making pasta in the kitchen. I watch Nono’s helping to make sauce for the pasta; Nono’s just like Sergio I met on the plane over here. Sergio is an old Italian man, in his late 79’s I would assume. He is an Italian citizen and a Canadian citizen who has been in Toronto for the last few months with his children. He smelled of afternoon coffee and smoke; he coughed like it too. Although Sergio was a bit chatty, he did teach me a few things on the ride over. They include: 

Life’s not that easy, but it’s not easy for any of us.
When you have problems, leave them where they come from, don’t bring them with you.
One glass of wine with every meal is wonderful (read: necessary), just never get drunk. 
 
It’s Sunday evening and I sit here on this train dreaming that I could speak Italian. I did properly answer the question “En que carrozza siamos?” which I hope translates to “what car are we in?”. “Cinque”. But still, I’m left craving to know more.  I’m dying to know another language that is beaming with emotion, character, and passion. 
 
As I write this we’re passing by mountains. Foothills, a beautiful backdrop for the vineyard, olive trees, and other train cars I see. The little villages nestled in the foothills make me want to spend years here. They make me want to know the people who peer out the shutters, who sing Italian and cook garlic. They make me want to know the stories of the people of Italy. Good thing I’m here for a week to explore a lot of what Italy has to offer; people, language, food, and wine. and everything else i can only dream of.
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wonder in washington.

i sit looking out the window in this giant airplane and i feel again the great power of this world. after spending the weekend in DC, i am feeling more patriotic than ever; i am incredibly thankful to be a citizen of the united states of america.

and just like i felt as i traveled by bus along the eastern coast of argentina last year, i feel like one small grain of sand. and i am curious as to what all of the other people of this world are doing right now. who today woke up cancer free? who today woke up and gave birth to a new baby? who woke up today with a call saying their loved one is coming home from fighting overseas? who met their future husband or wife today? we will never know. and as scary as it might seem, there is incredible wonder in the possibilities.

although my flight on the way out to baltimore was delayed, the train from baltimore to dc was delayed, and there were plenty of other hysterical moments during our trip this weekend [more of those to come..], the immense tropical storm rolling onto the east coast didn’t put too much of a damper on our flight. opening the window, i see the sun shining. below, i see city upon city. abounding life. rivers, farms, quaint houses, and city blocks. there is wonder in all of this, too. wonder in the potential that somehow – for some through two degrees of separation, and for others six degrees of separation – i could know all of these people. and although it is unlikely at best, the potential is all i need.

and that brings me right back to my new found patriotism. out country is large, free, and full of wonderful people. dc is the prime example of the grandeur of our nation. people from all around the world come to witness the greatness of our nation. and even american citizens like myself marvel in the seemingly foreign magic of our nation’s capital. we, together, marvel at the commanding presence of the man who freed our slaves, the strength and prominence of the washington monument, the excellence of the capitol building, and so much more. dc is truly extraordinary. and frankly, so is this world: perfectly chaotic and remarkably full of wonder.

t minus 108 days.

I’ve already started the countdown. 108 days. Needless to say, I’m quite excited for the next adventure that life has thrown my way. I got my official acceptance letter in my inbox on Monday – quite possibly the best birthday gift I received this year. And now, it’s official – I’ll be spending about 5 months in the beautiful city of Mendoza, Argentina.

I know its early, but if I don’t start this thing now, I know I never will. So keep up with me here and get excited with me as I prepare my stomach, my tongue, my feet, and my passport for the experience of a lifetime.