But. I. Don't. Wanna. Go. Home. Yet.
As it turns out...I'm being forced to go home today.
Last day in Paris...
Ahhh "Charade." I really hope one or two of you out there get my references...
Well perhaps not forced. I'm getting on a plane to go back home and see family and friends and start my dream job and all that jazz. But still. My bribing days are ending. And a huge part of me is just not ready to go. I suppose that's to be expected. After 9 months of gallivanting around the world doing whatever I damn well pleased, I must join you mere mortals. I have to go home, start work, earn a pay check, buy a cell phone, find an apartment, gather things to furnish said apartment with, get up everyday at 5am, earn a living, pay taxes, visit the dentist and work towards a more stable future.
But why the hell would anyone want to do a thing like that?
It's the end of an era. And in honor of this occasion, I give you my bribing numbers. Travel statistics, for the true blog nerds:
(Defined as two or more hours, intercity travel is not included.)
(I’m a woman of the sea, you know...) By boat: 3
Countries visited: 20 (nothing like the Vatican to pad the stats...)
Cities/Towns graced with an overnight stay: 86
Days of Bribing: 260
Assorted bribing classics...
Kotor. Go to Montenegra. Really. It's the new...something.
The hills are, in fact, alive.
Ali and Beth at the Pantheon.
Lost in translation...watch for children in bows?
Petra, one of the lovelier places on earth:
Doing the Titanic pose in Mcleod Ganj for unknown reasons:
Hidden talent discovered while bribing:
Bohinj! Always a crowd pleaser.
Number of times forced to sing along drunkenly to “Me and My Bobby McGee” with a man who had no business playing the guitar: 4. That’s right. 4. In one night. No. Really.
Number of times threatened with Bulgarian jail as my sister screamed “corruption!” and “you are bad people” at said menacing cops: 1
Number of momos purchased for me in hopes that I get into the old lady nightie: 1 (Thank you Sarah. What are best friends for?)
Number of Ipods ruined by the travel gods: 3
Pairs of underwear that survived the journey: 3. It's been tough out there.
Song most played on our only surviving Ipod: “Night Shift.” Ahhh the Commodores. Say you will. Sing your song. Forever more.
Lives up to your expectations: balloon rides. The Great Wall. Japanese toilets.
Most depressing revelation: there are no dill pickles in Israel. Entirely a New York invention. It's a nation of sweet gherkins. Devastating.
Universal take-away: Doesn't matter what continent, country, culture, age frame, size, shape or mother-tongue...men everywhere are the most unmitigated shits when they put their minds to it. (Dear random hostile Canadian reader: don't get upset. Embrace said universal truth. I've got sketchy hissers in Egypt, molesters in India, essentially all older Western men visiting Thailand, pedophiles in France...really. Don't even get me started.)
Now, I could go into a sentimental ramble about beauty and truth and finding myself on the open road. I could quote Whitman and wax poetic about great life lessons and the soulless nature of American life.
But I don't want to be that guy.
I was going to reward you all with the tale of Pete the Parasite. That's right. Being loyal readers and loving bribers, I was hoping to grant you the E True Hollywood Story: The Rise and Fall (and rise and fall) of Pete the Perennial Parasite. Two things stopped me:
1. I was informed that perhaps it was in poor taste to put the sordid details of your sister's parasite protrusion on the internet for the world to see.
2. The comedic millage I'm going to get out of this story will last a lifetime. Alison's incredible discomfort is small potatoes considering the hilarity we can share with others. It's about spreading joy in the world. And I'm quite positive that this is a story that is best enjoyed in an oral retelling. (Which sounds dirty, given that we are talking about bodily functions, but isn't.) I am currently penciling people in...but it's filling up fast. Best to inquire as soon as possible. Can't underestimate how good this story is. All the comedic elements are there: parasites, rubber gloves, skittish doctors, language mix ups...classic.
In lieu of Pete, just a quick word.
So grateful to everyone who made this year possible. My family, for not only encouraging me but joining up along the way. Sarah for proposing it in the first place. Ali for all that she does...reading maps and fending off touts and hooking me on historical romance novels. The Flanigans for making me laugh so hard I choke. Beth and Crystal who joined us and were always ready for adventure. And to everyone else along the way who sent advice, provided much needed cheer, humored our linguistic deficiencies, pointed us in the right direction, gave us a place to stay and a bathroom to use or a conversation when we were just desperate to talk.
Attempted to write something that conveyed just how amazing the year has been. How much I've grown, changed, learned. Can't seem to do it without sounding trite and contrived. But I did find something in my journal, dated September 21st, the day the journey began. It read: "Scared to death. No idea what possessed me to do this. But I guess it's just going to have to be a leap of faith...not just in the world, but in myself."
We've come a long way baby.
Signing off for now. Safe and happy travels, wherever you are.
"Ithaca is all along the way." -NM