Even though this is definitely one of those annoying, self-indulgent blog posts, I’m writing this anyway. That way, when I’m forty, single, and telling my adopted Latvian child about that trip I took to Europe when I was twenty-six with my best friend, Kerry, I’ll have something to jog my memory. Here goes:
I got to ride a tiny boat across Lake Geneva and take an old-timey looking train through the Alps to look at salt mines. I locked myself in a sleeping car with a chain, a bolt, and a washer so that pickpockets couldn’t rob me in the night as we traveled through Slovenia. I learned how to say please and thank you and do you speak English in five different languages. I decided not to learn please and thank you and do you speak Engligh in Czech because that is an ugly, nonsense language. I saw the Vienna Boys Choir sing Christmas songs in a Catholic Church and cried thinking about my mom. I peed in a canal in Amsterdam while drunk with a guy from Berlin named Patrick.
I booked hotels and train tickets and bus tickets and plane tickets for five weeks of travel and accidentally treated the trip like I was on The Amazing Race sometimes just for the fun of it. I got drunk in Italy every night and talked with Kerry about her life and my life and all of the things you talk about when you are drunk in Europe on cheap wine and are very aware that anything you do and anything you talk about will be a little too cliche and precious for your own good but oh well. I got high. I got very, very high. On space cakes and doobies and blunts that they sell in little plastic cases next to signs that say no smoking.
I climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower and St. Peter’s Basilica. I saw the Pope ride by me in his tiny little Pope Mobile and he was so close I could almost touch him. I got wasted and danced in gay clubs in Amsterdam and got hit on by a lot of people named Marco while Kerry slept off her crazy high. I spent time with my Aunt Marya and her family in Geneva; I saw where my cousins go to school and play football. I slept on a bunk bed in a hostel for four days as if I were eighteen and fresh out of high school only I was twenty-six and some things just aren’t charming even if you try to convince yourself that they will be in retrospect. I stood on paper plates in the communal showers there because I forgot my flip-flops but not my fear of athlete’s foot.
I saw a beautiful sunset in Croatia from the balcony of my ninth floor hotel room. I ran through the rain in claustrophobic alleyways in Venice looking for Caitlin Tegart’s well-hidden hotel. I got drunk with Caitlin Tegart and her boyfriend and talked to an Italian guy about how he would choose Angie for a night, but Jen for a lifetime. I respectfully disagreed; Angie all the way. I met a girl named Ninke and her mother Karen and her mother’s friend Mick on the train and we all had wine togeher. I went to the Palace of Versailles.
I sketched a pretentious picture of the Ponte Vecchio for my friend, Corey; I started sketching sarcastically and finished by sketching earnestly. I went to a Hooters in Interlaken where all of the waitresses were horrific from far away and whatever is a stronger word than horrific up close. I saw a black light theatre performance of something loosely based on Alice in Wonderland that involved people flying and people showing us their boobs. I celebrated Thanksgiving in Geneva with my family and some of their American friends. I got so drunk that I threw up in a fancy bathroom in Amsterdam that was so fancy that after I threw up, I took a picture to remember how fancy it was. I went to a million Christmas markets and saw many beautiful cities full of many beautiful lights.
I went to Pompeii and almost got sexually molested in the men’s room by an employee. I saw a currency exchange place in Florence called “Everything Change” and thought how true, currency exchange place, how true. I laid awake on more than one overnight train reveling in my cross-country angst, wondering how the year was about to end with my mom having died and me on a midnight train to Croatia or Amsterdam or who-knows-where. I lit a candle for my mom in Notre Dame. I felt silly doing it but I also felt good doing it.
I took a lot of pictures of me jumping really high in front of things. I saw the United Nations and the Red Cross and the graves of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde and other people who died a long time ago and saw how people still go to see these famous graves and pretend that they’re bigger fans of these dead people than they probably are just because they’re there in front of their graves right that second but then thought that’s okay because I’m doing that too. I laughed as a prostitute threw ice water on Kerry. I read two and a half books. I almost went to the Anne Frank House high, but then stopped to eat waffles instead. I went to the Anne Frank House hung over.
I saw an Astronomical Clock, a shit ton of cathedrals and churches and took angsty pictures of myself in front of many famous rivers. I went to Terezin, a concentration camp in the north of the Czech Republic. I sat next to a homeless man at the train station in Zagreb in the middle of the night while he drank from a flask, then threw up all over himself.
I went from Paris to Versailles to Geneva to Interlaken to Rome to Pompei to Florence to Venice to Zagreb to Rijeka to Vienna to Prague to Terezin to Amsterdam to Koln to Paris.
And then I came home.
My Sister: I think it would be fun to go horseback riding sometime…
My Dad: Do you want a horse? I’ll buy you a horse. Let’s go buy a horse for you.
When I worked at Jew Camp a couple of summers ago, “Hey There Delilah” by The Plain White Blah Blah Blahs was big. It just came on the radio right now and reminded me of that summer.
One of my campers that year wrote a song for his ex-girlfriend to try and win her back in which he literally just changed the name Delilah to whatever her name was.
He performed it for me and asked what I thought, and it took all of my strength not to tell him that if I was a girl, my vagina would have just rotted off my body.
It was in a beautiful church in the middle of Vienna and they sang in Latin, German and English.
It was maybe my favorite thing I have done so far on this trip. I am an absolute sucker for all things Christmas, and this was so magical I can maybe fly now if I tried.
I wish my mom could have been there to see it. It had so many of her favorite things: children, singing, church, and Christmas. I felt her more tonight than any other day since she passed. So that was neat.
Merry Christmas everyone.