A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

Making the most of every situation November 10, 2008

I’ve been told my life right now sounds glamourous. It is, in fact, even for me, a girl born in the country, who lived next to a wheatfield, graduated high school with 43 other students, and learned how to shoot a rifle by age 16. (Although, the whole hunters education course was merely for my dad’s sake, I have no idea how a rifle works now!)

But, glamour, or class rather “doesn’t buy the groceries” as my dad always likes to say. He is absolutely right. Furthermore, it is all about your perception of the situation. If a married woman reads my post about the Fashion Week event, she may turn green in the face with envy. She may complain that she could never travel because she has a morgage, and her husband and her rent movies on the weekends because they no longer are excited by the bar scene. “My life is so boring, if only I had your life,” she says, ” you are so lucky.”

Granted, I wouldn’t trade my situation right now as it is the path I chose and want to lead, but if I was to look at her life I could be envious as well.  Let’s see, this woman has a house for starters. She didn’t live out of a backpack for 8 months, sleeping in dodgy hostel beds (sometimes with cockroaches and bedbugs)  or on cold train station floors. She can decorate her house, throw beautiful dinner parties, and each day come back to what she calls “home.”  I’ve been in transition for the past 8 years. During university, studying abroad, travelling, and when I did stay put for 2 years, I didn’t make my apartment feel homey because I was saving my money to leave again. 

“My husband and I rent movies on the weekends because we are no longer excited by the bar scene.” Woah, wait. That sounds like a pretty amazing night to me…cuddled up in the arms of someone you love. Being in love far succeeds some fluffy purple jacket that is “fashionable”. I mean can a fluffy purple jacket talk to you? Laugh with you? Kiss you goodnight? Didn’t think so. But, if you’re tired of the same routine then mix it up! Use your imagination. If you and your lover have always wanted to travel, but can’t because of time, money, house, kids (this list goes on…) then bring culture to you!

Here’s on idea off the top of my head:

Take a hat, put a handful of country names that you have always wanted to visit. Then, with your lover (or kids etc), draw from the hat…..drum roll please…Spain. Great! Spain it is. Now what? For the rest of the month you will be doing work as an “obligated tourist”…no excuses as you “must” take your lover to dinner at the Spanish restaurant for tapas, sign up for a month of Flamenco dancing lessons, drive to the international film store and rent Spanish films with subtitles, buy (or print off pages online) a language book and learn how to say the basic greeting to one another, drink Spanish wine as you cook a Spanish dinner together, decorate a room in the house, or a corner even, with bright colored Spanish flare, like red and orange pillows, where you can curl up and read a book on the history and culture of Spain. The options are endless, and with today’s multimedia technology and international communities right in your own city, you don’t need to go to Spain, to Brazil, to Italy, to go to “Little Italy”.  Within the city, and even your own home, you can explore Spain one month, India the next and so on. You can even invite other friends and couples to participate. You just need to be creative and active in your approach and you can bring culture and fun to your own life.

We are sometimes too quick to change our persceptions about the choices we’ve made in our lives, envying others on the choices they’ve made, what they have, and the amazing life they are living.  It’s not about the things in life that are important, it is about the moments, the memories and the experiences that make you happy. Everyone is different, everyone finds happiness in different ways.  And, moreover, is all about perspective. It’s about living the best you can in the moment or stage you are in. If you are married, enjoy being married. If you are single enjoy being single. If you are bored in both of these, you don’t need to reinvent yourself, just add a little adventure to your everyday life. Explore new things. Take on new challenges. Set more goals. Get creative with life, play with it and have fun. 

Try to live it as if the end of the day were death, forcing you each day to think hard about the way you are living your life. Is your life filled with moments you want to remember? Could you write a book of memories that you would want to read someday, or a film that you would want to watch if your life were a movie? 

Stop making excuses about not being able to live your life the way you’ve dreamed. If you want to do something, set a goal, figure out a plan for how to get from A to B, and persevere.  Not everything will go as planned (which has a peculiar way of working out for the better in the long run) nor you may not achieve every goal, but at least you are trying to proactively create the life you want to lead, and that is all you should ask and expect of yourself. Give your best effort to be the person you want to be and you will be happier, you will feel in control of time, instead of watching time and the years pass by. 

Don’t regret the past. Don’t look forward to the future. Enjoy the moment you are in…and start living the life you want to remember!


Fashion Week–In Review November 9, 2008

I assumed I would finish “investigating” this Fashion Week event held at Sali & Tabbachi, the hottest lounge and discoteca in Reggio Emilia, by around 6a.m. but high heels and the need for some beauty sleep, forced this girl to bed around 4.a.m.–which by all means is quite a fulfilled night of fun in my book…

So, how was it you wonder? In truth, everything a girl could imagine….

Yellow lights reflect off a white back drop lighting up a cluster of sponsor names that are projected on the screen. The runway, long and white could be mistaken for summer lounge seating, I can already imagine the half-naked bodies lying on the thin walkway like a tin of sardines basking in oil.
After talking my way into the seating area with the security guard–I find myself sitting in the front row. An “I’m an American, and a sweet smile,” works wonderful magic–better than a V.I.P. card. I am sitting alone, clear plastic modern chairs surround me. This moment could be lifted from a scene in Sex & the City…”if only my best girlfriends filled up the chairs next to me,” I think to myself. In any case, I have a smile on my face–I’m about to watch a fashion show!

The DJ, less than 20 feet in front of me in the center of the room is mixing R&B, hip hop, old school tracks and the hottest dance hits. His glass table sits behind a modern couch which is big enough to fit the three men and two women who just sat down quite comfortably, even another could squeeze in if they knew the group. One of the men could be a model himself dressed in his designer jeans, black sweater, glasses and a white thick scarf–mind you it’s not the least bit cold in the club, this accessory, like many in Italy, is merely for fashion sake. The man’s chiseled jaw reminds me of The David statue, I admire him from across the room like I would a piece of art as I wait for the show to begin.

“She Drives Me Crazy,” by The Fine Young Cannibals blasts through the speakers as cameras flash–the photographers are testing the lighting. The room, a rather bare space when I first walked in besides the line of clear plastic chairs on which I sit, and the white and red lounge chairs (the real VIP table service areas) that are in clusters and form a u-shape around the room, is now packed; overflowing actually, as people gather in the two large doorways trying to catch a glimpse of the special night’s event. In truth, there are two open seats to my left but I mistakenly put my purse on it, and I’m sure whoever is eyeing these seats assumes that I had a few girlfriends with me–what girl would come to a fashion show, let alone a lounge bar and discoteca by herself? Me, I say to myself with a smile. When you travel the world for 8 months, you become quite self reliant. I’m no longer “alone” when I’m with myself. I’m with my own best friend.

“So Cindy, what do you want to do tonight?” I often ask myself.
“Well Cindy,” I reply, “it’s a Friday night. Let’s go for a girls night out!”

So I took a map of Reggio Emilia (RE), got into my new little manual Fiat (that I’m still trying to get the hang of driving) and ventured to RE, a place that I had never driven before. To start the night off though, I took myself out for a nice little dinner at an Argentina restaurant and after a leisurely meal writing a few chapters of my book, I finally found myself in the parking lot of the club around 11:30p.m.

I checked my cellphone, it reads 12:23a.m. I was told by Nicola, the most gorgeous dark brown eyed Italian man who is a barista at a caffe’ bar, (yes, as you’ve guessed, I’ve become a regular) that things don’t usually get going until 1a.m. Quite the difference to Seattle nightlife where bars close at 2a.m. and clubs even at 4a.m.

A grey haired man equipped with with head phones, a mic and a large expensive looking camera turns his back towards me, T.V. Reporter, it reads. Without much notice, the lights begin to dim, the music suddenly changes, and a line of models enter the stage, 3 men and 3 women, wearing glasses that blink flashes of clear light which creates a starry night feel in the dark room. After the lights turn back on, a tall thin brunette walks onto the stage wearing a pair of red glasses while another pair hangs from the middle of her shirt. She struts the walk showcasing the glasses, yet, the entire crowd is more eye struck by the short red dress she wears, most of the audience sees what I see from the view in my chair, glimpses of a bare butt.

The show moves at a fast pace as the men and women models walk the catwalk sporting this season’s designs and colors of glasses, fall wardrobe, lingerie, and swimsuits. As I guessed, the color purple held a strong presence throughout the night as well as anything that was down-filled (jackets, vests, skirts etc).

After what seems like only minutes, the line of models appear back on stage, walking the runway one last time and sprinkling the floor with gold stars as they walk past. Less than a moment after the final spotlight turns off, does the working crew begin to pack up the stage and chairs to make the area back into it’s original purpose–a dance floor. I circle the crowed room, it takes me close to 10 minutes just to get to one side from the other as the number of people quadrupled since the show finished. After feigning to understand Italian to a few typical gel slicked haired men, I run into what I subconsciously hoped to find–the tallest men in the bar. I’m 5’8”, 5’10 with heels. When I stand next to a guy, I like to feel little–which is hard in Italy as the average guy is probably my normal height.
To make the night even more of a Sex and the City scene, the 2 tall, handsome men happened to be professional soccer players for Parma. Whereas many women become starstruck, for me it is usually a turnoff as most professional althletes hold true to their macho-player reputations. Surprisingly these two guys broke the stereotype, they were pure gentleman, nice and absolutely hilarious as they teased each other and me while we tried to carry on a conversation in my broken Italian and their almost non-exsistent English, which hopefully will get better in the next few weeks during the coffee and English lessons I promised to meet them for.

To wrap up my “investigative summary”, I would give this event, lounge and mix of people a well deserved, gold and shiny 5 star rating.

The question now, is what other events must the “obligated tourist” attend?…