Travel Hangover.

My laundry needs doing, i’ve barely left my bed, and my one meal today consisted of an entire pepperoni pizza from the place up the block. Clearly, i am a class act after waking up at 6 for an early flight, ya’ll.

As much as i love traveling, there is nothing quite so satisfying as coming home to a total veg-out session. The kind of day where i allow myself to let the pile of essay-writing to sit, untouched, for a few more hours. I justify my half-unpacked bags with jet lag, and eat only the easiest-to-acquire food because i really need the downtime to, you know, decompress from all that walking and sightseeing and merriment. I call them my travel hangovers. Days recuperating from over-doing it on the fun.

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The most satisfying thing about today, though, is not the devoured pizza or cozy duvet. It’s the real feeling of being home.

When we exited customs and caught the familiar sight of our bus back to town, i had this unmistakable feeling of place. We passed landmarks on the way that are increasingly more familiar to me, and when we caught sight of the castle i caught myself thinking: mmm, at last. Like the way i look for my old cul-de-sac in North Carolina, the castle was a landmark of the almost-there.

Some six weeks into my time here it’s deeply comforting to feel so settled. Being in Amsterdam was very much a “European Holiday.” The kind of trip where i only do the silly tourist-y things and gouge myself on red wine and most excellent cheeses. And yet i’m still in Europe, but without the one-suitcase camera-out-everywhere rules. It’s a small, poignant marker of belonging.

And being 4000 miles away from what has been me home for so long? Yeah, i’ll take the small victories.

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of interest: i’ve a few blog posts queued up on the actual amsterdam adventure to be published over the next week, so stay tuned! (and in case you missed it, here’s a blog about biking in amsterdam!)

current jam: gregorian choir of paris, christmas mass on repeat.

best thing: pepperoni pizza.

On Honey and Vinegar.

Traveling is, inherently, stressful. Traveling internationally through airports can be extremely stressful. Amidst the endless queues for security and clamped-tight seats in economy, tension can run high.

Which is why i always try to be as polite, smiley, and generally considerate when in international terminals. It’s a good rule to have in life, but by virtue of being human, i’m not always the most adept at obeying good rules. I do find the extra compassion when in pressurized places, though, makes the extra effort worth the reward.

Abby and i had arrived, at last, in Amsterdam. Waiting in line for customs, i saw what i thought was a spot open up in the line adjacent to us – so i scurried over to snag it and keep people moving. From behind me came a snappish English voice. “We queue in Europe. Apparently, you don’t.”

I turned, bewildered, to see an older man flushed with anger. “Sorry,” i replied, “i thought you were in the other line!” I turned and went to the back of the other line, rolling my eyes at Abby and trying to play it cool. It had been an honest mistake. There’s so much shuffling and lining up in airports, it’s easy to get cut off or unintentionally step on toes (metaphorically and non-metaphorically). And the last thing i needed was some guy to be condescending to me, presumably because i was not European and therefore (apparently) of some lesser status than he.

We got through customs just fine, and our new friend passed through at precisely the same time. After tucking my passport back into my rucksack, i smiled and waved at him. He blushed. “Sorry – i – just was falling behind. I – uh…” I just waved it away, my jaw fixed in a (admittedly somewhat passive-aggressive) smile. “Well, have a good holiday, anyway,” he spluttered as we turned to go. I said thank you, and walked off.

Easily, i could have fallen apart and wept on the spot. I was tired, no one likes being yelled at , and i was really preoccupied with trying to read maps in Dutch. Or, i could have been snappish and rude and dished it right back to him. Maybe i wanted to show him how nasty his remark was by being overly kind. Maybe i was a little peeved at the Euro-elitist attitude and trying to wield my Southern American hospitality to prove a point. Maybe that doesn’t make me any better in my thinking. And maybe he’d been just as confused and wanted to channel his own frustrations at someone else.

But, at the end of the day, he clearly regretted being rude to a confused foreigner. And i felt satisfied that i resisted the urge to snap back. I learned to double-check the line’s mobility, and i hope he learned not to jump to conclusions by being mean. Mostly, though, it just was a lesson in reiterating one of my mother’s favorite phrases: you attract more flies with honey than vinegar.

Being kind, especially under stress, can really can make an enormous difference.

in other news: we’re safe and sound in amsterdam and having a rollicking good time! be sure to stay tuned for more, hopefully more uplifting posts in the next few days!

current jam: the sounds of an amsterdam street.

best thing: cheese!

Today.

Though this day has been earmarked on my calendar since October, its arrival feels tremendously sudden. Like no amount of fretting or anticipating or eagerly-anxiously dancing around unpacked suitcases could have adequately prepared me for this. The maps are tucked in their pockets, my phone is charged, and the laundry’s on its last load.

Come 6 PM tonight, i will be United Kingdom bound.

I’ve been instagram-ing* my last few days in Chapel Hill. Looking over these fragments – photos doctored up in fun filters that capture only the smallest of moments – i feel an encompassing sense of minutia. Like, the Big Adventure about to happen is going to comprise of the same sorts of pictures: books on a dashboard, drinks with loved ones and new friends, feet walking on the ground. Ordinary and simple, made profound by the newness such simplicity inspires in me. All things made new.

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Being home has become its own kind of adventure in the profundity of simplicity. Simple cups of tea, simple smiles, simple time together.

The first few days in Edinburgh are going to be anything but simple. Acquiring keys, learning the map, navigating new cultural expectations. Small things i daily take for granted here. But i’m up for the challenge, and praying i stay enthused and open and encouraged.

See ya’ll on the other side.

current jam: ‘where the boat leaves from’ zac brown band

best thing: elmo’s & the padre & the man.

*if you’d like to join in the fun, my username is lizziemcmizzie! (assuredly, there will be lots of scottish-themed uploads!)

Taking Wing

Two Disclaimers:

1. This is posted hours post-writing, and,
2.In the abstract, this post is entirely about in Uganda, if not in practical terms. Yet I did title this blog “Wandering Writes” with the intent of documenting ALL my traveling endeavors, across the globe and even merely down the Appalachian Mountains.  So here it is: my first official journey since beginning this blog.
I’m going home; Mount Holyoke is on spring break and I am currently sitting in the rationalized chaos that is Bradley International Airport. Much to my chagrin, both my flights are delayed. Fortunately for me, though, it could be much worse.
I could, you know, hate airports. Or be terrified of planes. Or have a wretched case of the flu. I have none of these things (knocks on wood). In fact, quite the contrary; I love airports, I love flying even more, and love my health (she writes while coughing…lovely).  I’ve been on planes since I was mere months old and have always loved that terrifying, jittering sensation you get as the beastly contraption rattles down the runway and begins to take wing.
There is nothing so magical to me as flying- I’ve wanted to get my pilot’s license since I was in the third grade and was Neil Armstrong for the Wax Museum. Last semester I wrote a twenty-page paper on the WASPs (not White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, but the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, the division of the American Army Air Force in WWII. Badass women with cosmetics endorsements while ferrying planes and kicking butt) and, needless to say, have seen more Amelia Earhart bio-pics and documentaries than I care to confess.
I prefer window seats, especially in red eye flights. You watch the sun rise, high above the clouds, long before the sleepy little people below get to. The whole sky, so blinding, like you’ve gone into a world painted in gold and hues of red. When I was small I thought by sitting at the window I could look out and see angels lounging in their ethereal paradise, making music.
But in terms of earthly pleasures, you get free drinks (well, “free” in the loosest sense…) and have the opportunity to talk to strangers (even undertaking fake accents if you wish) and people-watch (my favorite part of airports).
I love imagining where people are going, coming from, thinking, dreaming, wishing. Airports are so rushed until you get to the waiting; you run and run and run through checking in and security and terminal-searching until finally you secure a small black seat and…wait. And wait. And wait.
It’s the waiting I find so intriguing; it’s weird, but in the way people wait you can learn so much about them (or imagine). Like the pensieve looking businessman next to me: maybe he has a secret love for space movies or enjoying jumping jacks more than any other kind of exercise. It’s not hard to derive what mother-on-the-run has got on her mind: Keep. The. Kids. Together.
It could be so much worse. I mean, it is raining and five p.m. so I’m pretty skeptical that there will be dazzling cloud havens to occupy my time once in the air, but you know. I’ll be home soon.
Whatever “home” means.
current jam: “barton hollow” the civil wars
best thing in my life right now: the firebolt, my car. and NOT paying for valley transporter to haul my sorry broke self to the airport.
days until (tentative) departure: 85