I was a senior in college when I studied abroad in London. This was one of the absolute best times of my life. It was the first time I began to see my own possibilities. I was braver, smarter, more adventurous, and cooler than I ever knew. I liked this person. This was nothing short of mind blowing.
My boyfriend at the time came to visit me for the lest leg of my time there. One of the first weekends he was there we decided, along with a few flat mates, to take a weekend trip to Dublin. On our first morning there we set out to find some breakfast. While walking down the street right outside our hostel we hear someone calling my boyfriend’s name. Shocked and confused we spun around to see a guy he played lacrosse with back on Long Island. He was also traveling with his girlfriend. Her and I quickly hit it off, because why wouldn’t you right there on the streets of Dublin on a random weekend in May. It was a fun twist of fate and we knew it would be a great story to tell as they ended up becoming part of traveling crew that weekend. We did all the touristy things together and, as fast friends, talked nonstop along the way. Had we met on a Long Island street, it’s pretty safe to say, the friendship would have taken a lot more time to blossom. But while together there in Ireland it was friends til the end material from the get go. I am pretty sure we all shared a few tipsy “I love you man” s as we danced with Guinness in our hands.
When the weekend was over, we made plans to hook up when we were back in the states with our new BFFs and parted ways. I was off to finish my school program and they were setting their sites on spending the rest of the summer traveling throughout Europe. We all walked away with a cool small world story and that was that.
About three weeks later, after I had completed my studies, my boyfriend and I had decided to do a European bus tour with the little amount of money and time we had left. We had heard that this could be a big party of 20 somethings hanging together. Not so much on our bus. We were about 30 years younger than the average traveler for those couple of weeks. We also happened to be on the verge of a breakup. After dating all through HS and college, it was coming to an end. We both knew it. It was a only a matter of time. We were on edge and life was getting more awkward by the minute.
This was what led to a quick decision to ditch the over 50 crowded tour for an afternoon in Florence. We needed a break from the polite conversation and fake smiles. As we took on this old and incredibly romantic city, we began slowly, and then more rapidly, to drive one another nuts. We were lost. In more ways than one. Loving someone and knowing you need to say goodbye can bring our the worst in us all. We also were literally lost. No clue where we were or how to get where we wanted to go. We ended up walking down some way too quiet alley way. My boyfriend quickly passed the sure of himself stage and entered into where I had been for quite some time, annoyed and concerned. We were opting for some serious eye rolling and stay the hell away body language. We both had our heads down, letting the fact that we were in Italy get completely lost on us, like only 21 year olds can do. We had no clue where we were headed in any sense. We were frustrated and fear was creeping in.
Then we heard footsteps.
We looked up, completely unprepared at the doozy life was about to put before us……
The two people walking towards us? That same lacrosse playing guy and girlfriend. ?!?!
Our Ireland Guinness dancing friends just happened to get lost down the same small alley way of Italy. On the same day. At the same time. And, as I later found out, doing the same thing, arguing with their heads down.
We hugged and laughed and hugged again all quickly getting over all the tension we had all been carrying just moments ago. Life just came out of nowhere in the oddest moment it could find and made us gasp. What?! How?! Oh. My. God.
Of course we spent the day together once again. We walked and talked and ate and more of the same. Being so long ago, it is all a little blurry. My memory is selective. I remember snapshots. Those snapshots I remember in detail but then the hours/days/months/years between snapshots…..blurry.
There was one moment of that day though, that became one beautiful snapshot.
We had walked over a bridge to go to a magnificent park where you can look back and get a fabulous view of city of Florence. I don’t remember the name of the park, I don’t remember the name of the bridge. All blurry.
I remember, in that time, with all of the out of my element energy it brought, feeling a totally new sense of who I was. I was seeing and feeling a part of me that I really liked. I was in my skin. My feet were firmly planted yet I was full of possibility. I was 100% confused as to where my relationship and life were headed, but there was an undeniable assurance that I was going to be OK. I would be better than OK.
I would be someone, like I was in that very moment.
I was someone who could be surprised by life and by herself. Someone capable of becoming more than she dreamed possible. Someone who could stay open to what life was about to wow her with and who could love bigger than she ever knew possible.
I was rooted down into my higher self.
We parted ways with our BFFs after our day together in Florence. We, sadly (and totally appropriately), never saw them again. Both couples broke up shortly after our European adventure.
I wish I could say that I stayed rooted in that place of self confidence and faith. I didn’t. I even choose to put that snapshot of the park on a shelf for awhile. When life looked so different than my expectations, it hurt to remember.
Now here I am, 20 years later, and I am re-learning how to get grounded, to root down. It goes against so much of what we believe as adults to find grounding in a foreign country with people that were so very obviously temporary, at a time when all was in question. Yet Life showed me this to be my truth. And I’m going to choose to believe Life. As I find myself lost in new alley ways, I choose to look up and allow myself to be surprised.
Today I am choosing root down in who I have always been and who I have forever been becoming.