Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Of Travelling Women and Wonderment

via Cherry Blossom Girl

On my first trip to Italy, I stayed in a hostel in one of those small fishing villages on the Ligurian coast. The hostel was run by three brothers and the wife of one of the brothers, an American woman who, like many others, had wandered through Italy, fallen in love, and decided to plant roots. I recall the horrible walk up, up, up from the train station. The weight of my backpack --admittedly full of guilt and many shopping conquests--made the sludge up the hill to the hostel door hot, unbearably arduous, tiresome.

On that visit, I met two women, each of whom, like myself, was travelling alone. One was an opera singer, in training, who lived in San Francisco and waited tables in what I was told was a luxe-Italian establishment in the Bay. The other was a marine biologist, an avid kayaker, who lived on Catalina Island for the majority of the year.

At the time, I considered both women to be considerably more mature than me both in age and in life. I was, after all, only twenty-one and as bright-eyed as could be. (Now, however, I realize they were only in their late twenties.)

But for the fact that our lives overlapped for a window of one day, in the same country far away from our homes, in the same small fishing town, in the same hostel, we would probably never have spoken. Time and opportunity conspired, however, and over delicious wine and conversation, we shared a meal--seared in my memory--in the town restaurant, where the boisterous owner insisted on serving all of his customers with a phone glued to his ear and a tirade of words streaming out of his mouth.

Whenever I recall that meal, that time, that place, a sense of wonderment captures me. I have never been able to express it, not in words and not in the Kodak-throw-away-camera pictures I took on that trip, which I seem to have misplaced since then.

Whatever that feeling was, I'm starting to remember it, starting to feel its slight hold now, as I think of what the next few months will bring.

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