As a girl, I studied the globe and pages of books filled with stories of people from many lands, gazed at traditional costumes on my porcelain dolls, memorizing skin tones and lace. I spoke with accents, learned to distinguish U.S. dialects and the origin of last names by my German-born papa’s hints.
Twenty-two, fresh from college and a few months into my job as a legal secretary scoping out the law field, this month in Europe was a once in my lifetime adventure and fulfillment of a dream.
My trek would lead imagination into reality. Free from duty, expectations and the frustrations of the previous four years, I would walk European soil as an adventurer. I’d spend graduation money (and charge too much on my credit card) for plane and train tickets and a huge backpack and see what happened.
I shared bathrooms with strangers in questionable hostels, watched Madame Butterfly in London and Cyrano de Bergerac delivered in a Scottish brogue. I rode the Chunnel, ate baguettes and cheese in the French countryside, wandered ruins of ancient Scottish castles and savored turns of language and culture.
I traveled for two weeks with my childhood friend, Joanna, met up with my then-boyfriend, Michael, at various points on his study tour, saw friends across the continent, and felt like a new girl. Maybe even a woman.
Jo and I hugged good-bye in Paris, and I boarded a train to Munich alone. I didn’t know a soul in Germany. A few days later, I headed to my father’s hometown. The trek to Garmisch felt distinctly weighty, textured with mystery and history like a dark, rich tapestry unfurling.