Sunday, January 24, 2010

An Astronaut's Swimming Lessons

The only line that is true is the line you're from.

I didn't want to be this guy. I didn't want to be that daily blog updater. Well, it is past midnight so I suppose technically this isn't a daily thing. Like I said: I don't want to be that guy, and like I implied in the previous entry: I don't like blogs. I feel like I'm tossing another coin into this glass-walled fountain. "Look at me everyone, I'm contributing again!" This is an awkward self-gratification. I'm not a fan, but it is moderately addicting to have a place to compose prose and not have it clog the arteries of my computer.

So where are we now?

Kara is asleep in her hotel room in Boston recuperating from a bug of some sort while I am posted up at home in Connecticut feeling my nasal passage slowly start to congest. Twenty-two hours now until our departure. Do I still feel calm? No. Am I nervous? No. I am more aware. I'm certain this comparison is way off, but at the moment it's the only thing I can think of: An astronaut sits in the darkness of his bedroom scanning the night sky. It is his last night on Earth for a while and he knows he should be sleeping and enjoying the comfort of his home, but instead he gazes outward. He spies the big dipper, then the moon. It hits him. That rolling rock, that spinning sphere of iron, sulfur, nickel, oxygen, magnesium, calcium, will all soon be closer than he is used to. What up to this point was only represented by words on the hundreds of papers he signed his name to is now very real and very soon.

I consider myself a fairly stable individual, but on the rare occasion Old Lady Life has a tendency to edge her cane around my ankles and give a sharp tug. I stumbled and couldn't catch my fall this time. This evening as I attempted to pack my existence into two pieces of luggage, my breathing pattern suddenly halted and I grew dizzy. Everything around me froze. Forcing down a gulp of air, I experienced that familiar defibrillating charge of anxiety as reality punched me in the gut shouting "Life is live!" In this instant, time shot forward like one of those spaceships in sci-fi movies bursting into hyperdrive. The present and future became one.

Until now I had grown so used to filling out forms dealing with my semester in Italy, it had not truly set in that I was actually going to Florence. As I hyperventilated, trembled, and whimpered I grew overwhelmed. To contribute this panic attack to the next four months is a misjudgment. I have never been one succumb to homesickness. I do, however, get nervous when entering new situations. The situation--my moon--I was envisioning was not Italy, but the future as a whole.

Today was my birthday. Well, that's a lie, I was born on January 31st. Today my father, mother, and younger sister celebrated my upcoming birthday. I celebrated the future. I celebrated the ocean through which I swim and the inevitable: uncertainty. Who ever claimed you can change the future is looking at it all wrong. You can change the present as it comes, but the future will always be one step ahead and--pardon my Italian--that scares the shit out of me. Knowing this I have no choice but to embrace the unknown. I can't stop swimming so I exhale and keep going.

- Brendan

For more information, give this a listen: Blind Pilot - "One Red Thread"

Saturday, January 23, 2010

An Introduction Of Sorts

I don't know how to blog. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing apart from finger-punching letters into a white box. I don't frequent blogs, I don't really know what an RSS feed is, I don't do HTML. All I know is that these things just simply exist. In all honesty, I am not entirely set on the idea of blogs: public diaries in which an individual highlights and describes moments, bits of intrigues from their exciting lives that they deem as worthwhile and exciting enough to share with the world and/or record it for themselves. Blogs are places for people to brag. Blogs are places for anyone to flaunt their adventures. If an individual's life is as exciting as they claim it to be, when do they find time to write? I don't really like blogs and probably will never return to read this weeks, months, years later. Having said that Kara and myself will be blogging to record our journeys in Florence, Italy and beyond. In a sense, all anyone has to read from each entry is the date. This will assure everyone that we are alive and well. No one's forcing you to read this. You may go about your daily lives assured of our continued existence overseas.

So this is the beginning. Well actually this is more of a prelude. It's early afternoon, two days prior to our departure. I am living in a cliche stolen from a late nineties romantic comedy. Kara naps in her hotel bed as I sit adjacent filling this white box with words that may or may not hold any meaning, value or worth. To add to the cliche I play some contemporary classical via iTunes and allow the drones and groans of nearby Boston traffic to accompany the piano heard through my laptop's speakers. As I sit here I realize I have no idea what I'm getting myself into come Monday evening when we depart for Italy. I don't know Italian. I don't know much. I should be nervous or maybe even scared, but I am neither. Though extremely grateful of the opportunity that I have been handed, I am content. I am autumn's leaf as it dances across the iced city's surfaces. Sidewalk. Curb. Sidewalk again. Manhole cover. Back to the sidewalk again. With each biting gust, I willingly allow the wind to take me to a new locale. Monday evening I'll find myself being pushed again. Though I have done the research and studied the maps, I do not know where I am going. The airline ticket says Florence, but I say who knows. Just as home is not a place, but a feeling: Florence is not a city, but an experience. This trip will be what we make of it--as banal as that sounds. I'll see you in four months or so.

"Ciao tutti!" she wrote.
"Who's Tutti?" I asked.
I guess we'll find out.

- Brendan