i remember the smell

The way I sometimes experience bouts of nostalgia, or bouts of self confidence, or bouts of grouchiness (although my grouchiness might be more of an underlying condition than something recurring), I’m experiencing a major bout of wanderlust right now.

I love to travel. I had a dinner and yoga date with my friend Blue a few weeks back and I remember telling her that if I had all the money in the world, I’d probably spend my days exercising, reading, writing, sometimes making yummy food, sometimes performing in comedy shows and traveling a LOT.

A big wave of the travel bug hit me this morning as I walked from the subway to the desk job. Because I work in midtown, which may be populated with more European tourists than Europe is populated with Europeans, I’m often witness to a confused looking couple staring and pointing at a map or a street sign, or I’m witness to a family of four wearing the same T-shirt and scarfing down hot dogs from a street vendor for breakfast. And despite the look of concern and innocence on their faces, I’m envious of them. They have ahead of them a whole day of exploring an unknown city, of eating whenever they’re hungry, of popping back to the hotel for a quick shower and nap before they catch an evening show. They are, for the string of days that they’re traveling, citizens of the world, and I like to imagine that they don’t have to concern themselves with their jobs back home or their bank accounts – that instead they can just explore the sights and tire themselves out to the point of complete exhaustion, only to fall into bed each night feeling filled to the brim with new experience.

I was so lucky to have had many opportunities to travel as a kid, thanks to my young mother who insisted I experience anything and everything that ever was.

I remember being in Athens at age 14, learning that Yanni was doing a big show at the Acropolis that summer, and wondering who Yanni was and why everyone was making fun of him. I remember how hot and sticky it was, how much I complained at having to walk everywhere.

I remember the island of Capri and the huge ski lift that brought us to the top of the island which looked out onto the bluest sea I’d ever seen or imagined. And at the top of the island there were dozens and dozens of stray baby kittens. WHAT. I died from the joy of it all.

I remember being in Paris at age 20 and buying a block of cheese so large, because we’d mistunderstood the gentleman who sold it to us, that my friend and I were constipated beyond belief for the next two days straight. I remember buying crossiants and crepes until I made myself sick of them.

I remember making myself sick at age 12 with a panini type sandwich that was popular at rest stops around the U.K. I ate a dozen of them over the course of a week, so relieved to have found something I could stomach among the aisles and aisles of foods that made me cringe, but when I took a bite of the thirteenth panini I’d ordered in as many days, I was suddenly and remarkably overcome with nausea and I will never look at Swiss cheese the same again.

I remember on that same trip developing a charlie horse in my right calf muscle while asleep in a hotel in Ireland one night. I remember screaming and writhing with pain, but because my small body was so jetlagged I wouldn’t wake up through the whole entire saga. I would just terrify my mother who was trying to sleep in the bed next to mine and who was painfully jolted awake when her kid started wailing while unconscious.

I remember exploring the ruins of some of the first-ever ampitheaters, built into the sides of hills in little towns in Greece. I remember being completely captivated to imagine that the actors had to fill the entire, massive space with just their voices and no microphones or speaker systems. I remember loving to learn about the history of theater.

I remember the smell of all the thick wool sweaters sold at every other shop in Scotland. And the long winding path in Kilarny that took me off the main road and into a field where a circle of boulders were arranged and when I found it I decided it was an old Druid circle and I never wanted to leave. I remember riding a train to Lisbon, my friend and I laughing and laughing because the group of Portuguese people across from us disliked me and made their disdain for me very clear. In Portuguese. I remember standing on the beach in Barcelona, transfixed by the water and the city and the sky. I remember throughout all my travels feeling hot, exhausted, happy, hungry, disgusted by the food, overwhelmed, thirsty, obsessed with the food, excited, lonely, inspired, bored, awed, eager and mostly feeling satisfied to be able to take in so much that was unfamiliar to me, knowing that it would inform who I was for the rest of my life.

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