For the record, I would visit the entire world if I could, just as any other stereotypical girl with wanderlust would. I’m a sponge that wants to soak up all that she can, including the small towns, skyscrapers, the ethnic food, and most importantly the people. I want to hear stories I’ve never heard before and people watch. There’s so many different ways to style a beard that I don’t know about. I want to go someplace I’m not wanted so people can scream at me in their native tongue how I’m a filthy American who doesn’t belong.
To this day, none of that has happened to me. I’ve been confined to the Western Hemisphere of the world. Yet, by never having visited any place in Europe, my mind has been left to wonder of the potential adventure towards the East. Ever since I was little, I would research European festivals and landmarks as well as train fares and airline tickets with the idea that by the time I was 18-years old I would have enough money to go on the vacation of a lifetime. Nine countries. Two months. Approximately all the money that I didn’t have.
So with less than a year until my 18th birthday, I’ve come to terms with the reality that I’m not going to Europe next summer, no matter how much I planned, researched, or worked. It will remain a dream unless a miracle should happen, and I don’t want a miracle. They don’t belong to me. Instead, it’ll be the best dream I’ll have for the time being. I’ll dream of the smells and how long it takes their toilets to flush and what all the doorknobs looks like. The only downside will be that I’m going to stay as pale as I am right now.
The plan was to fly to the nearest country so that I would spend the least amount of time in the air. I love plane rides, but there’s always a substantial amount of anxiety that happens to swell inside me whenever there is turbulence. I figured that my first plane ride across the Atlantic Ocean should be as short as possible. I imagine that it rains a lot there and that the sky is grey with light peaking through the clouds. Ireland was the only place I didn’t research landmarks or museums or festivals. I wanted Ireland to be a place for walking and admiring the scenery. I wanted Ireland to be a place of serene peace and church on a Sunday morning. Maybe even a hot cup of soup would be included in the picture. Sometimes the best adventure you can give your mind and body is a breath of fresh air.
The United Kingdom
Every summer, I wait for the solstice to come. I wake up at 5 a.m. and make myself breakfast (that includes cupcakes decorated as miniature suns) so that I may sit outside and enjoy the sunrise from my backyard. I love the solitude in it, but it breaks my heart that barely anyone appreciates the solstice. My family makes fun of me for it, and some people are oblivious to what the word even means. However, at Stonehenge in Salisbury, the sunrise on the day of the Summer Solstice fits perfectly through the gap between the stones. It’s a place of mystery and legends. It’s also a place where people watch the sunrise as families or even with friends. People willingly wake up early once a year to share a sunrise together and enjoy the marvelous world we’ve been given.
After enjoying the countryside, I planned to explore the city of London. There’s huge landmarks there, such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and the London Eye. There’s also the shops that scream with posh clothing the second you glance at them. I’d be doing double-takes enough times going down the side walk to make me fall flat on my face, another reason for people to hate Americans.
One of the biggest reasons I am being a stereotypical white girl for wanting to visit France is because Sabrina Fairchild did in the movie Sabrina, the movie I’m named after. In the movie, a chauffeur’s daughter is sent off to work in Paris, France to help end her infatuation with David Larrabee, a guy who barely knew she existed. When she returned home after a year, she was still the same woman of elegance, but her charm and sense of self-confidence had grown immensely. I know that Sabrina Fairchild is just a character, and I’m definitely not her. That doesn’t keep me from wanting the same things for myself. I want to come home from France and be utterly unrecognizable and eye-catching at the same time.
When visiting Paris, I wanted to see the city from the top of the Eiffel Tower, try escargot, and sit on the banks of the Seine River. I planned on walking the hallways of the Louvre and staring at paintings for hours. I needed to try French bread that was actually from France. There were cheeses and wines and pastries that I wanted to try, and they have berets! Ever since I watched A Testament of Youth, a World War I movie based on an English memoir, I fell madly in love with berets. Vera wore all sorts of knitted berets throughout the film, ones that I would gladly own. Unfortunately, they are hard to track down in stores and online (or I may just be an idiot that has zero knowledge of how to navigate online shopping). So, I always imagined that France would have the perfect beret for no particular reason. It just would, and I would buy it with money that I would have otherwise spent on trying a delicious pastry for the third time.
I wanted to see more than just Paris; Versailles was a whole other world of wonder in my eyes. It was and is a magical castle of gold, glass, and silver. I visualized grand entrances, ornate finishes, and rooms so loud that I’d be scared to speak. Not loud in the sense that sound would emit, rather it would be loud in it’s personality and aura. It’d be too much for me to even attempt to talk. Versailles is the cheerleader in school that everyone loves because she’s perfect in every way, and I’m the orchestra kid. I don’t even have band kid status.
Chocolate and I have a relationship that’s indescribable. One moment, I can’t get enough, and the next I’m cursing him for all the trouble he causes me. Still, I keep coming back because I know that what we have together is sweet (see what I did there 😉 ). I chose Belgium for the sake of saving my long distance affair with European chocolate. Belgium was meant for visiting as many chocolatiers as I could.
Have you ever seen The Fault in Our Stars? I HAVE! MULTIPLE TIMES! Do you know why? It’s not entirely because I love putting myself through the emotional torture. It’s partly because it’s as close as I’m going to get to the stairs of the Anne Frank museum, the glistening canals, and crowded bike racks.
I also happen to have an infatuation for Anne Frank. I’ve been hearing about her story from her mom as long as I can remember. I’ve seen the movie about her countless times. Then after reading her diary, I wanted to incorporate her words into my life. At the beginning of her diary she wrote “I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.” After being overwhelmed by such words, I grabbed the nearest blank journal (I own plenty) and wrote the exact phrase in the front cover of my new diary. To pay her homage by visiting the museum would be an honor.
When I was five, my family hosted a German exchange student in our house for one year. Her name is Stefanie, and she’s a doctor now. Every year after she left, she would send boxes of German candy to us. There were gummies and chocolates mostly. Usually we would get the boxes around Easter, so there would be candy eggs among among everything else. To this day, twelve years later, she still remembers me. She messaged me and called me her sister. I was saving Germany for her. I wanted to be able to meet the person that is frozen in the photographs of my house and remember her.
There also happen to be a plethora of castles in Germany. Each one is unique even though they share similar characteristics. It’s as if they are a family of ageless relatives. Once on a shuttle ride home from the airport (we had gone on a trip to Gulf Shores for the weekend) I met two girls that had randomly packed a spare change of clothes and left for Germany. They stayed there for two weeks and wore braids in their hair. They had seen the castles and drank warm beer. They couldn’t stop smiling.
Every summer, Austria is hosts the Salzburg Festival. For the festival, operas and orchestras perform in Mozart’s hometown from late July to early August. I harbored the illusion that I’d get to walk among the classical music community in a long, green dress. I would get to see an opera in the flesh and hear European musicians play European music. Somehow, it’s a dream within a dream, for to get to Europe is one thing. It is another to be able to enjoy such luxuries such as the Salzburg Festival.
Austria itself is a wonderland, so I’m told. Every time I heard Erienne sigh “Vienna” under her breath as we explored the new collection from Vienna at the art museum, I could feel the awe in her voice. I thought of how much she must truly love Vienna to say it in such a way. I wonder what it’s like to see the sky from Vienna and what it sounds like. I pray for the day that I, too, can sigh “Vienna” under my breath every time it comes to mind.
My affinity for Italy spurs from my mother’s fascination with Italy. Even before my mom was single, she knew in her heart that she would move to Italy on her own someday. She’s always comparing herself to a bird in that she wants to be free. I think if she were a bird, it’d be the first place she would visit.
I am only good at growing sunflowers because they are drought-resistant. That helps with the fact that Texas summers are brutal, and I forget to water them. In Italy, there are fields that are full of sunflowers. The blankets of yellow are never-ending in some parts. Of course, I want to see Rome and Florence, but Tuscany is pure sunshine and then some. Again, I’m biased because I’ve seen Under the Tuscan Sun at least a thousand times. They show the market place full of warm, juicy grapes as well as the snakes and spiders that make themselves uninvited visitors. It’s not a perfect place, but it is a beautiful one, land and people and everything. I think that’s all a place really needs to be.
There are ruins in Panama from when the Spaniards were still in control of the country. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to Spain.
In the late summer there is the Running of the Bulls, a time you can eat tapas in mortal peril. I don’t know why they run the bulls, and I don’t think it’d be honest if I researched that bit of information last minute. There are beautiful Catholic churches in Spain, too. They don’t take ice in their drinks, and Spanish guitar is so romantic.
I hope that one day I’ll get to see it all, even if it means shattering this idealistic image that I have. I do not know if everything I’ve described is true. I’ve only seen it all through a computer screen. I hope it doesn’t stay that way.