That sounds cray. How could the best part of your vacation happen before you even begin to pack, order a drink or butcher a foreign language? Blasphemy.
But when you really think, it makes a lot of sense. I know that at least for Nikol and I, the anticipation before a vacation is palpable. I can’t wait to get away and experience something new, I start to visualize it and imagine myself relaxing and soaking in a new environment; at home, it’s all we can talk about. Then when you’re actually in Seattle or Palm Springs or Antarctica or whatever, it flies by so fast that you can barely register what’s happening, which makes the trip home depressing. There goes your trip.
I don’t think we’re unique in this, either. Recently I’ve spoken with several friends that have had life-altering trips, around the world in some cases, and even when they’re fondly recalling their adventures, you can always hear disappointment that the experience is gone. It’s the ironic thing about our generation: in an era where we can share and relive every single moment, hundreds or thousands of times, we seem to have lost the ability to fully absorb our surroundings and carry them with us after they’re gone.
With our ten-day trip to Italy coming up, this scares the ever-living balls out of me. We have stops in three cities that can overwhelm the senses, and the potential for time to fly by is sky high. Nikol and I have been planning and talking about the trip every day for the past month, which makes me wonder if – statistically speaking, anyway – we’re in the prime of our vacation right now, when it hasn’t even started yet.
We’ve been incredibly busy with weddings and weekend trips all summer long, even through the period where we decided to be hermits (and failed miserably). The non-stop pace isn’t a coincidence – it’s who we are as a couple. Visiting new places and sharing new experiences is just as much a part of us as sushi and hip-hop. We literally cannot stop, even when we try. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but the flip-side is that sometimes it feels like we’re living in fast forward.
But with Italy, I think there’s a way to beat it. In his 2005 album, appropriately titled “Be,” rapper Common ends his intro song thusly: “Never lookin’ back, or too far in front of me / The present is a gift, and I just wanna be.” Nikol alluded to it in her last blog (http://celebratewewill.weebly.com/1/post/2012/09/counting-down.html), the conscious decision to breathe deeply, slow down time and be more present. I think that if we do that, we’ll not only enjoy the trip more, but bring it back home with us. Nikol and I both carry our backgrounds with us and incorporate them into our personalities: Nikol with the groundedness of Utah and the passion of Chile, and me with the loyalty of Wichita and the no-bullshit attitude of Chicago. (Just ask her about the Moulin Rouge recipe she learned in Seattle and tell me it isn’t a part of her now.) In a few weeks we have the chance to bring parts of Italy back, and make them a part of both of us.
We have a few strategies. There will be lots of aimless walking, moonlight wine and other ways to do nothing but draw the days out as long as possible. Hopefully they work out, because this is by far the farthest and longest trip we’ve ever taken together and our first time abroad (Ensenada hardly counts). We want to absorb it, remember it; be able to close our eyes and see the sun setting over the Arno months or even years after we’ve left – without needing to cue up Instagram on my iPhone 8S or whatever.
My fears may have some merit, or they may be nothing more than extreme paranoia. It’s hard to tell (probably the paranoia, though), but I do know that I want to make the most out of the trip. The problem is that time flies by with Nikol. Our trips to Seattle, Chicago and even our own wedding are a blur despite repeated attempts to stop and absorb. That’s just what happens when you’re having an awesome time. In two weeks we’ll be on our way to, in my mind, the most romantic place in the world – the birthplace of art as beauty, the home of passion over practicality. Basically, unadulterated aesthetics.
That’s something absent from American culture, and we’re not only going to immerse ourselves in it, we can bring it back with us and make it a part of our relationship. Noticing the beauty in each moment, and in each other. This trip can become an important part of our personality as a couple, one that we can share and carry with us forever. The best is definitely ahead.
- Ryan ZumMallen