October 13, 2008
I hadn’t slept in what felt like days and had picked up a strange, dizzying head cold in Montreal.
Milan. The first stop on my solo overseas adventure. I knew I should be feeling free and elated but I was all of a sudden very alone and – truth be told – very lonely.
I had flown out late from Montreal. That day I had visited a National Park called ‘Boucherville’ with my three new French friends from Sous Bois Hostel, Remy, Max and Kilberic. Boucherville Island, as it turned out, was only accessible via a stupefyingly long walk down a major highway … followed by a confusing labyrinth of overpasses. We had persisted, but by the time we reached the park grounds, we needed to begin the return trip, so I could make it back to the hostel to scoop up my bags and cab it to the airport. It was a fun day, because it was all so poorly planned and ridiculous, but it was also exhausting. . .
Throw an international flight into the mix, a heavy pack I was un-accustomed to carrying around and a degree of anxiety about how everything was going to pan out … and by the time I arrived at Milano Centrale train station and found my hotel, I was so tired I could barely twist my key in the lock. Far too tired to peruse my Italian phrase book to work out how to navigate the area, order dinner, pay etc. Too green to contemplate the inevitable traveling pantomime of pointing and nodding …(not to mention paying for everything with large bills because you have no idea how much anything costs!)
I knew the normal thing to do was to throw off my pack, take a hot shower to wash off the flight, flick through a couple of Italian TV channels, then hit the streets to absorb Italy. Get an espresso standing up, bat off leering Italian men, etc etc etc. I knew all of this… but just couldn’t seem to leave the room. My father had been pick-pocketed a few weeks before at Milano Centrale and his vivid description of the event squashed any remaining blip of curiosity I had for Milan.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be there. I just didn’t want to be anywhere.
So, as the light paled I did all sorts of things that were bad idea. I drunk an overpriced beer from the minibar. I watched apocalyptic CNN reports about the worsening financial crisis. I listened to sad songs on my iPOD. I ate two Canadian candy bars for dinner and tried (fruitlessly) to murder the Italian fly buzzing around the dingy little room. Finally I feel asleep and dreamt about showing Barack Obama around Sydney during a hail storm (?).
I didn’t tell anyone about this traveling low point. It was my first night and I knew things would improve. But funnily enough I got an email a few days later from my good friend, Vic. Vic has an uncanny knack of sensing when things might not be quite right, and saying all the right things. In the email, she said: