“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans,” my earbuds sang. Sitting there in that squeaky desk I looked out the window to see the cloudy gray sky of April. I couldn’t help but to think about how much prettier it is in Italy. I could almost feel the heat of the sun warming me and the silkiness of the Mediterranean Sea dancing through my fingertips. Remembering the taste of fresh gelato melting on my tongue made me sigh. “Daydreaming again, Aydia?” laughed the girl next to me “Naturally,” I smiled, lazily resting my head on my hand. My spanish teacher rambled off about something I had learned a week ago and I felt myself slip away from reality.
Arriving to my first authentic Italian restaurant reminded me of trying to swim for the first time. Diving into the new foods you splash around for a bit, make a complete fool of yourself but enjoy it nonetheless. Struggling to keep up with the 15 courses, I found myself stuffing my face with every beautifully dressed plate that landed in front of me only to learn there were always three more coming. My great Aunt Stephanie, who was in every way a wine connoisseur, offered me a small glass proclaiming it “just exquisite”. Being thirteen at the time, alcohol was a subject I had been forced to avoid. As cautious as I was, my inner rebel screamed the reality that here was a grown woman offering ME some of the finest wine in Italy! Was this the Italian life? Eating as much as you could and doing things that you never could have dreamed of doing at home? As I lifted that glass of white wine to my lips I swallowed a sip as quickly as I would lemonade. It burned and clawed its way down my throat as my face flushed. The table erupted into a symphony of laughter when I shoved the glass back to my giggling Aunt.
Before traveling to Europe I had this preconceived idea about the world. Everyone had different values, different lives, different everything. I thought it was almost as if they were from another planet. I felt that the world was this big foreign place that had no space for me outside of my own little town. But I remember a time when the day seemed to drag, and the clock ticked slowly. With the heated black rocks underneath my legs I sat, and let the velvety waves of the Mediterranean splash over my toes. I soaked in not only the blazing sun but also my surroundings. Three little girls splashed each other and their laughter sang delightfully. To my left a little boy no older than two yanked down his swim trunks and chased the screaming girls in circles around the beach.
Snickering I laid back and realized how similar I was to these people. I wondered if maybe we weren’t as different as I had previously thought. Maybe we are all just stumbling along through life trying to figure things out, and perhaps that’s true no matter where you are from. My eyelashes fluttered closed just as I heard the excited footsteps of my cousin Sarah, calling out for me to swim with her to the buoy. Her faint voice got louder and more demanding until my eyes flipped open, but what I saw surprised me. It was my spanish teacher standing in front of my desk, hands on her hips and a worried look in her eyes.