Monday, October 13, 2008

Go BIG and Go HOME

Less is more, totally not my style.

Initially I wasn't supposed to come back to the state until Oct 28th.....then, after the first few nights in a hostel and then having to make the decision so often from whether or not I'd like to have a hot dog from a street stand, or a traditional local meal.....the money started dwindling quicker than planned.

When I planned my entire trip I knew if I were going to do it, I wanted to do it right. I didn't want to just say, "I've been there, but I couldn't afford to do that...." Living beyond my means? Sure, maybe. Nothing outlandish however. I didn't go shopping, I didn't splurge on expensive Italian designers (though, at this point it wouldn't have really mattered had I decided to buy a couple pairs of shoes) and I didn't stay in lavish hotels or dine anywhere with a dress code.

I just did it RIGHT. I went to Europe and I tasted the Belgian chocolates (tasting obviously means, I ate, like, a box..... I tasted many flavors), I didn't cook in the hostels, or eat day-old bread. I'm sorry, I didn't come to Europe to eat DAY OLD BREAD. If I'm going to Europe, I'm going to eat fresh, piping hot bread straight from the oven in a local bakery. Fuck, if I'm EATING bread my bread is NOT going to past due, the bread in itself is a celebration away from my usual American lifestyle where I munch on diet bars, frozen dinners and canned peas. What's the point in flying across the ocean to diet and grocery shop for every meal?

I did exactly the things that I wanted to do; I walked where Shakespeare and Dickens walked, I toasted drinks with new friends from Bosnia, Poland, South Africa, Ireland, and ever local country I was in. I charmed the pants off people without speaking a word of their first language, I stayed up late and wasn't controlled by the restraints of TIME, half the time I didn't know what day it even was.

I listened to my body and my instincts, that under most circumstances are lying completely dormant under the weight of daily American stresses and day-to-day monotony that allow little space for "following instinct."

Often, your instincts, though they may be right, are inconvenient, which make them easier to ignore and make excuses for. Inconvenience in everyday life is scary, it forces you out of your ways and means something is going to change and CHANGE means accepting what is and where you are. Change quickly brings you into the present.

Instinct was my watch in Europe. Instinct brought me into different cafes and restaurants where at the the end of the meal I was kissing the cheeks of people that started as strangers. Instinct changed trains and routes, seats and booths, instinct made me wander down small streets and stumble upon cemeteries older than our country. Instinct brought me to Germany where, initially, I hadn't planned on visiting and because of instinct, I spent hours drinking Bavarian beer with new friends and watching the sun come up in a Greek restaurant where, though the owners didn't speak English, stood up and taught me Greek dancing until my face was sweating and patrons were clapping. Instinct made me feel welcomed genuinely.

Instinct, brought me to Europe in the first place, where though it would have been nice to be with someone, I ended up relishing in the fact that I was alone. These stories were mine. This life that I'm creating was based on a series of choices, based on my instinct.

So sure, maybe I had one Leffe Blonde too many in Brugge, maybe I stayed a little bit too nice of a hotel in Paris, and yes I could've observed the art without the audio guides, but I really wanted to hear the stories of the artist sure, maybe I spent a BIT more than necessary.

I went BIG. I did it right and I don't regret, a single choice.

Though the trip was cut a couple weeks short, this was really just a peek into everything that I'm planning to experience for the rest of my life. In one month alone I met more people, created more stories, laughed and danced and pondered and APPRECIATED more than I have in a long, long time. Too long.

Traveling softens you, it opens your heart, and your eyes. My trip was just a glimpse into what happens when you DO follow that internal gift of instinct that we're born with. It reminded me that life is about LIVING it, and why let another year go by that's just a blur of time and dates, meetings and deadlines? That certainly isn't for me.

GO BIG, even if it means you have to go home, you have to "pay for it", etc. LIVE, drink in what's right in front of you, you don't even have to go to Europe....we're constantly surrounded by magical things.

When you do choose to truly LIVE in "it"the universe will show it's appreciation in return, I know it did to me.



Brunhilda said...

Your trip sounds so, so wonderful, and I think you did it absolutely right.

Even if you had to cut it short, you definitely didn't miss out!

JUST ME said...

You went big. You did it right. You did it all by yourself.

I'm fucking proud of you.

PS: I might be going big too. Going big to LA. I might need your guidance. Email me.

megabrooke said...

wow, i second just me- i am really proud of you. i admire you for taking this trip, living it up on YOUR terms, really LIVING in the moment, taking it all in. sounds absolutely wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Yes! Love this. Pictures on their way to you at this very moment.

Katelin said...

hey as long as you did it right and had a great time doing it then no regrets right? so glad you're trip was great.

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing writer.

Your trip seemed perfect - as I read each of your posts, immersed in my 9-5 that really starts before 8 and ends past 6, and everyday stresses that I tend to take way too seriously - I was not only inspired by every post, I was jolted into realizing that life is too short for all that, so thanks :)

Anonymous said...

i am all about going big, living big, loving big, dreaming big, doing everything with life. then i get into this rut thinking that i can't do such things because of current situations. but you, this trip and your wise words have totally reminded me that we can live every day full of life regardless of where we are.

Becka Robinson said...

"Go big or Go home" was my motto for a really long time. Maybe I'll have to re-adopt it.

Sounds like you had an amazing experience. I can't wait to travel Europe in a few years!!!!

nicole antoinette said...

What! You're coming home? When! Come visit me again! Right now!

Woah, so many exclamation points.

Anonymous said...

I have loved reading about your adventures. And if nothing else, you have inspired me to take another look at Europe as a place to go. It's right on my doorstep, and the idea of packing up and just going where ever a train takes me is suddenly very appealing. I think a trip is in order, very very soon.

Glad you had fun!

Lindsey said...

I will repeat: So freaking jealous.

But I'm glad you did it your way...sometimes you just have to LIVE. And isn't that the whole point of traveling anyway?!

Anonymous said...

Reading about your travels makes me want to go on a trip and go BIG so badly!

ANG* said...

you are always so eloquent and inspiring.
what now?!

Anonymous said...

That sounds like you did a pretty good job there, chelsea... Europe is always fun but my female friends who've succumbed to their hedonistic predilections have pretty much overwhelmingly told me that it's quite the shock seeing all of the uncircumcised schlongs there.

These are the things I think about after Guidespot canned me... :)

Anna Lorraine said...

wow! i would love to do what you just did. and you did it all by yourself..i think that's freakin' awesome!

Anonymous said...

wow... thats really inspiring and you are soo right! Glad you had a fabulous time!

kokostiletto said...

i really really enjoyed reading your posts re: europe! thanks for the tip! i agree! go big! experience things to the fullest! i'm glad you made the decision to go big!

La Petite Chic said...

I love reading your European adventure posts. So glad you went big!

Anonymous said...

I'll drink to that.

Actually, there's not much I WON'T drink to.

But srsly. Awesome. I'm inspired to go do something fun like RIGHT. NOW. Except I have to wait ten minutes until I get off work.

jb said...

I'm going on a trip to find myself in january and i was pretty freaked out to go alone. Now that I read your post you have given me the courage to go big.

My life has been a mess for the last three years and this is my moment to go out there and live finally. If you read my blog you'll know what i mean by messed!

Thanks a lot for the post and i'm happy i found you. And by the way you are a really good writer. Keep it up.


Sid said...

I wish I'd bought those audio guides. I wish I'd spent more money on food (pastries). Wish I'd started talking to strangers earlier.

Jay Ferris said...

Hell yes. Last time I checked, the average person only gets 1 life, and approximately .2 of a life to make it count.

Kyla Bea said...

Oh wow - I so admire you for taking this trip and this time for yourself - and for doing it right!!

Good for you for listening to your instincts, it can be a very hard thing but it's an adventure for sure =)

Alya said...

Go Big can probably be called the motto of my life! You only live life once right?

Glad you had fun. I loved reading all about your trip!

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

Sounds amazing. I say that all the time when people say I can't believe you flew to such and such to run a marathon, or I can't believe you ran a marathon (or two or three) or I can't believe you're ordering that huge ass piece of tiramisu. Well, believe it I say. Go big or go home is what I tell them. Too bad that usually is only referenced to the little things in my comfort zone. But this spring I'm off to Europe and I can't wait.

Thanks for such a great post Chels!