Before the beginning
In June of 2008 it suddenly bothered me that most of my food was better traveled than I was. So I bought a one-way ticket to Europe.
Okay, maybe there was a little more to it (but you have to admit, that’s ridiculous. Of course a better solution is to get local food, but we can talk about that some other time.) My decision to leave had the familiar and dependable ingredients of a too-long-deferred desire to travel, boredom at work, a light/moderate quarter-life crisis, and with a seasoning of heartbreak.
In college I had majored in Language Studies, which included study of two languages. I already loved Spanish, and of the few options for a second language (they briefly offered Arabic but budget cuts quickly cut that one right out. Gotta love our priorities, right?) the one that sounded best to my ear (and whose country I felt most inclined to visit) was Italian.
Plus, let’s be honest, Italian is hot.
In all my language classes, I was one of the very few people who had not traveled or lived overseas. I meant to…just as soon as I had some money… Familiar story, right?
So I got a job. It was okay, I basically enjoyed it, can’t complain. I was spoiled by my first boss, who basically let me run things the way I wanted, and if I had a question was there to help. This made my second boss seem like one of those notorious micro-managers (in hindsight I realize she wasn’t, but good thing that little bit of wisdom came too late).
I worked there for five years, and my growing dissatisfaction with the job coincided with the end of my 27th year. Now, I’m not hung up on turning 30 or anything…but I did want to have done some stuff first. Plus, I knew traveling, and backpacking in particular, meant crappy hostel beds, sometimes sleeping on a bench or on the deck of a ferry, or riding on a bus for 10 hours. You know, the type of things you want a fairly resilient body for. My body still felt pretty spry, but I noticed my toes were getting farther from my reach and after a day of bad posture at a desk my back was griping beyond its years. Plus, I was starting to use words like “spry.” Time to get out and feel young.
And finally, an accenting marinade of heartache. Sounds so dramatic. (And whiney.) Let’s see, how much information do you want? How much information do you really need? Suffice to say affairs of the heart were not a hugely uplifting thing. Fairly emblematically, 2008 started off bitter and angry with my worst New Year’s yet (including the one that I spent being spurned by a high school crush) and I had been notified by some Wise Men that one’s 27th year is a crucial year, often a chance for significant renewal, adjustment, and determination of direction in life.
(Any astrologers out there want to inform me as to this “Saturn Return” business?)
The casserole of my significantly delayed desire to travel, substantial boredom at work, moderate awareness of mortality, and sufficient heart-break was ready. I traded it for Frankfurt, Germany.