Skyscanner – everywhere.
It wasn’t just the start of a new trip. Not just another destination to tick off my constantly changing bucketlist. It was much more than 4 days of rushing to get it all in and get back home in time for daily habits waiting for me on the next Monday morning. This time, it was the beginning of a brand new adventure. A way to mark the end of an old one. To say goodbye to that old version of me… and embrace a new one.
As the train from La Spezia approaches, Cinque Terre hides itself well behind the thick walls of the tunnel trough the rocks. It’ll surprise you a couple of times and offer you a tiny glimpse, almost too short for your eyes to get used to the sudden light and for your brain to fully realize what your eyes just saw. Too brief to take in its screaming beauty. But you hear it, and it’s enough to know it’s there. Would you look forward to it as much if it just threw itself at you from the start?
“I think it’s time you slowed things down for a while. Take time for yourself and think about what you really want. Getting over a burnout is something that takes time, so you have got to stop rushing…”
Fast rewind to that Monday morning at my doctor’s office, a few weeks before. I sat there, numbed for a couple of seconds. She’d slipped the word in her sentence almost as if it was trivial. A burnout… Me?!? Up until that moment I didn’t even believe it was a real thing. I almost thought it was some kind of invention of people who were tired of their lives but too lazy or afraid to make things change and psychologists trying to find a new way to make money.
It was definitely not something that could happen to me. I was stronger than that, I’d always known what I wanted and even though priorities had changed over time, I’d never been afraid of change. To forget about my habits, step out of my comfort zone and start something new. It had never taken me long to make decisions, even big ones, and I’d never let myself regret anything in hindsight. If it felt like the right choice, than it had to BE the right choice… No need to regret it afterwards.
But thinking about it I knew she was right. And even though I didn’t want to hear it, I knew it had to be said. The word had to be pronounced. And I needed it to hit me like a bomb. It was the only way. I knew it was time for a break. That this time, I didn’t quite know it all that well anymore. I knew things had to change. But admitting it to myself was something else.
This time, I didn’t quite know how to make those decisions without being afraid of having regrets.
At first I slept. It was all I could do. And once I felt more or less human again after those 3 months of hardly sleeping 3 or 4 hours a night, there was only one thing I could think about: getting out of here… I needed to get away from it all, be by myself, change my mind and just go somewhere… anywhere… everywhere…
Running away? Maybe… Probably… But so what?!? It felt like the right choice, and what was the worse that could happen?
The game of hide and seek continues and the tension rises for about 20 minutes. When you finally get out of the train, the need to go ‘everywhere’ dissapears in an instant. You’re here, and there’s nowhere else you’d rather be.
It’s the start of the tourist season and during the daytime there’s some crowds – can you blame them? – but once the sun starts to set, terraces fill up, bruschetta’s and pizza’s are eaten and a lot of spritz is drank, you’ll finally get the place all to yourself and the chance to go searching what you came for: yourself.
Maybe you’ll find it sitting behind the church in Vernazza with a bottle of wine, watching the sun dissapear behind the rocks, taking with it the bright colors of the houses and all the movement that still seemed to define the place just minutes before. Maybe on that bench overlooking the town in Manarolla, eating take-out pizza with Julia, talking about life and trying to eplain why anyone in their right mind would go on a trip all by themselves.
Maybe climbing those 356 steps that lead to Corniglia from the train station or walking 3 hours from Corniglia to Vernazza, even though the guy at the entrance of the trial told you it would only take one. Maybe you’ll find it getting up at crazy ass o’clock to watch the sunrise, when the smell of fresh bread being baked fills up the streets and the construction workers that seem to be the only other people around are still too tired to shout ‘ciao bella’.
Or maybe you won’t find it just yet…
Maybe the hope of finding yourself somewhere just like that is a bit too much pressure to put on a place and maybe – probably – it’s too much to ask. But I believe places can change us, so it was worth giving it a try. And it’s OK. Because I’ve definitely said goodbye to that old me, and I know it’s a good start.
Let’s raise our glass of spritz to new beginnings…
Somewhere… anywhere… EVERYWHERE…