dispatches from europe: there’s always a test

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To say these past two days have been trying is a grand understatement. Remember when we talked about this trip changing me in some way? Who knew that a day later I would sit in an airport in Rome while a woman tells me that my luggage has gone missing. That all I have for a three-week holiday are the clothes on my back and the purse in my hand. Who knew that it would take two days of calls and tweets to three airlines in two countries to make it whole again? Who knew that this brief experience would reveal a lot about myself and my unheimlich relationship to possessions, and how I sometimes need to tell people to back the fuck off and figure it out.

When I was a child I didn’t have much in the form of possessions, but my mother was a hoarder of abundance. From stockpiling dresses from the 1970s to cooking a dinner for eight when there was only three seated at the table, the notion of a barren closet or refrigerator would set her teeth on edge. As I grew up I saw how possessions affected her, and I swore I’d never be her photocopy. But we’re human, prone to mimicry, and there I was hoarding sweaters like a woman jetting off to the arctic. Sometimes you can’t help but fall prey to your worst self, no matter how hard you architect a person that is polar opposite. No matter how many times you clean out a closet, there’s always a part of you desperate to fill it back up again.

Fast forward to yesterday where I was kind of a whiny asshole. A woman oscillated wildly. I moved from confusion to anger to ambivalence to denial to rage to heartbreak to despair with such velocity I wore myself out. All of this over two pieces of luggage. I cancelled plans on a whim. I moped in my 400-year-old apartment. Then I realized that I had two choices: I could either moan about the things that I no longer carry or I could revel in the fact that I’m privileged to be in Europe. For three weeks I gave the gift of quiet to myself, and here I was manufacturing all this internal noise.

In a span of a few short hours, I had become my own wrecking ball.

I chose to get out of my apartment and walk around Rome. I purchased some shirts and toiletries. I had a horrible meal (don’t even ask me about raw sausage because I will commence with the gagging, I promise) and a delicious one. Copious amounts of gelato were consumed. Come evening, I phoned my friend, calmer, and we spent three hours in a perfect restaurant devouring plates of pasta.

When I came home, I resolved that I would focus on savoring every moment of this stolen bit of time without possessions. Regardless of my anger toward ambivalent and insensitive customer service representatives and emails from people who don’t understand the word holiday, I chose to accept this test and move forward.

Apparently, my luggage is en route to Rome.

Test #1 and counting…

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traveling girl