I wasn’t planning on writing today - I still am not entirely sure of what to say, given that today was very much like yesterday in all the essential pieces. I even had the same meals (bread, cheese, fruit - pretty standard cheap European lunch/dinner option.) As it is, I’m in the middle of watching the end of the last Harry Potter movie and feeling quite sentimental and sad over silly things like the death of fictional characters (Lupin! Tonks! FRED.) and over celebrities I never met (Alan Rickman! John Hurt!) and mostly I feel like writing something. I have no idea how trip related it will even be and most of this will probably come out like a stream of thought mess, but that’s more or less where my mind is right now, so . . . Either grab the oxygen mask as it descends from the metaphorical ceiling before reading or find the nearest exit?
It will start trip related, at least. Today we took a ride up to the Harderkulm (or Harder Kulm - I’ve seen it both ways). This point - about 4,000 feet above sea level, offers an amazing view of Interlaken, the turquoise glacier water filled lakes and rivers, the towns below - it’s breathtakingly beautiful (like everything else in the alps, lets be serious.)
Looking down over the valley I thought, as I often do when I travel, about the people to whom Interlaken is not a vacation destination but home. Where the mountains and lakes we take thousands of pictures of are part of a back garden, a commute to work, a normal every-day expectancy. I thought about the writers I love who have been inspired by the alps or other scenes of nature. I thought about William Wordsworth who wrote of daffodils and Emerson who went to the woods to live deliberately, and Moses who climbed mountains to commune with God and Mary Shelly who found mountains filled with monsters. Frodo who climbed a mountain to destroy a ring, Heidi who climbed a mountain to lead a simpler life.
I thought again about England. Everything reminds me of England. And when I say this, I don’t mean England the country so much as England the study abroad. Before I left for this trip I went back and read my journals from that one. It was ten years ago. It was on that trip that I realized how introverted I become in large groups. How much I love solitude in nature. That trip taught me the power of throwing yourself into something.
When I look back on who I was then, I feel a whole range of emotion. Where I am now and where I thought I would be then are widely different. In many ways, I have become exactly what I feared I would: a cat obsessed Mormon spinster with as many prospects of love now as I had then: a delightful zero. I’ve had roughly the same number of dates in the last year as I had that year (again, nearly zero). I hate dating now about as much as I did then, though for slightly different reasons. I want to take the somewhat boy obsessed girl who watched all her friends get married that summer and tell her to buckle up, settle in, and get over it.
I also want to sit that girl down and tell her that in more critical ways, she was going to become and experience exactly what she hoped she would and more. On that trip I watched friends who were far more adventurous and deep thinking than I and wished I could keep up. I was one of the youngest in that group - if not the youngest, and I saw so many I wished to be like. Now I find myself thinking and analyzing not just literature but so many other things in ways that bring my life satisfaction and excitement. I watched as friends went off on adventures and thought that I would never be so brave - I was too afraid to go on roller coasters at that point, how would I ever manage to do anything that required even the smallest amount of legitimate courage? But now I see myself and think that I am a brave person. Not “walk into the woods and let Voldemort kill me” level of brave, perhaps, but I have traveled the world, bought a house, taken several jobs that were too big for me - and I’ve somehow managed to buck up and make things work. I’ve even forced myself onto enough roller coasters to admit that A) I don’t get motion sickness (the real reason I never rode them) and B) that I don’t die on them, so I may as well just go and have fun.
I want to give that girl a glimpse (not the whole picture, but a glimpse) of the joy teaching brings. Of the shows she will perform in. I want to tell her that she can love, and that she can survive being broken by it. I want to shove a bottle of Lexapro toward her and tell her to save herself some serious grief and just start medication already. I want to tell her to get into the mountains a bit more and to take a few more deep breaths of air before focusing so much on checklists of things to do.
Mostly I just want to tell her that she’s pretty much the luckiest girl in the world, with the greatest family and the cutest cat (that has yet to be born) and the best friends and the greatest opportunities a person could ask for.
(I also want to tell her she’s damn lucky to live in a world where there is still another Harry Potter book to read for the first time, because that is a pretty awesome world to live in.)