Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Getting lost

Watching kids bike off window ledges. Seeing the creative process of extravagant graffiti art. Wiping mud off your back, laughing inexplicably while a strong, warm hand lifts you off the ground. Just another day of getting lost in an unknown city.

Dirt and twigs caked to my hair, I get up and try to keep going on my bike, trailing my friend and host, Adrián. As I struggle to pedal down the channel that runs through Toulouse, I try to look at the gorgeous natural surroundings (something that I hadn't seen much of in the urban atmosphere of Madrid). However, it's tough balancing sight-seeing and balancing on a bike in a giant mud pile, a body of water on one side and a bushel of thorns on the other. Tired, sweating, muddy, but still smiling.

I smile because I know that I'll remember the crazy, adventurous moment more clearly than any other. More than any monument or blurb from history, I'll recall falling over into a giant pile of mud next to the channel that runs through Toulouse, belly-laughing as I landed. I'll chuckle remembering the time I rolled down the tallest sand dune in Europe like a child. I'll think of the kindness and warmth I received from Adri and his family, complete with a personal Easter egg hunt.

I've been getting lost a lot lately. Lost in Madrid, lost in foreign cities, lost in thought... Being a student in a foreign country has given me the courage that I've never had before. If Adri and I hadn't gone down that muddy trail next to the channel, we would've never had to cross the bridge to turn around to the other bank. If we hadn't done that, we wouldn't have been able to see the sunset along the countryside horizon. It was like we were caught in a series of postcard pictures; the saying "Wish you were here" made a lot of sense to me in that moment.

In the south of France, my life became a sort of stock photo: a picture-perfect world where nothing exists but what is shown within the four corners. It was a stock photograph that I would have never found if I had never wandered through Europe, jumping into the abyss of an unknown place.

In life, if you don't get lost, you won't get to the other side of the channel. You won't land that perfect career that motivates you to sprint from home to work, grinning the whole way. You won't meet that person that makes you feel like you're a diamond in a barren coal mine. Because of my experiences here, I plan on getting lost in the future. Often.

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