I feel like so much of what I have shared with my friends and family since I've been abroad has been about the big things: the places I've travelled, the pictures I have taken or the people I have met. But this adventure I have been on for the past month and a half has included countles smaller things that I would love to share.
There's really no picture that could capture the adrenaline rush I felt biking down the streets of Barcelona with the wind blowing in my hair or the way my heart melted when my grandfather emailed me explaining how him and my grandmother shared this same joy of traveling the word. I wish I could show you the look on my host mothers face as we taught her the single ladies dance and explained the influence Beyonce has had on America. You all would have truly been humored by the image of my clumsy self spilling my last free beer at the Heinekan Museum in Amsterdam in front of everyone. I wish you could have heard the incredible violinist on our Danube river cruise in Budapest that played an American classical song just for us so we could feel a little closer to home. I would love to capture the taste of a margarita pizza at Gusta in Firenze that has set my taste buds at a standard too high for my own good. Or the hilarious moment in Interlaken when my sled slid down the Swiss Alps right in front of me so fast that I was pretty sure it was gone for good. Or the feeling of pride and accomplishment I felt when I was teaching English in my Italian middle school classroom and one of the students finally felt like they learned something and gave me the biggest smile.
All of these moments are what being abroad, living and learning and seizing every single second is all about.
Three years ago tonight, I laid in a bed in a hospice center with my grandmom and watched her take her final breath. I thought about all the things I wanted to do in my life to live out her legacy and to make her proud. I remembered a note I had received from her on Facebook a few months earlier, that read "this is your grandmother sending love"..it was at that moment that I realized what that saying "it's the little things in life that really matter" truly meant. I realized it was the little things that you look back on and become more meaningful then all of the big things. I've taken that outlook with me everyday since and most recently, through this self-discovering, incredible, European journey.
I have never felt so blessed and so lucky. I'm learning more than I could have ever imagined, making the most incredible memories, meeting the greatest people, and having the absolute time of my life. I'm trying my best not to take advantage of any day because I know this time is flying by right in front of my eyes.
This post and this trip is dedicated to my family and friends and those who knew and loved my hero and my best friend, Janet Mintzer. I know how hard tomorrow will be for all of you. I take her with me everywhere I go. Feeling farther from home than ever tonight. Miss you all.