You know when you're lost without a compass (allegorical or not) and you keep saying "i've come too far to turn around now" until you abruptly find yourself in an oh shit moment with beads of sweat dripping into and burning your eyeballs, irritability that has persisted to the point of indifference, and a culminating fear has risen to the now nihilistic prospect of your imminent death?
Ok, well for me there was NONE OF THAT this summer. This has been without question the most decadent, relaxing, and surreal holiday of my life. In my previous travels I have always sought some trace of adventure that although not always comfortable, has afforded me a repertoire of share-worthy anecdotes. I have barfed (at least thrice) in every third world country I have ever visited, slept with a knife in my hand in the fresh-out-of-war militarized zone of Trincomalee, been insisted upon the company of two armed body guards moving through the streets of San Salvador, and paid $2.50 for a room in Livingston Izabal that had been decorated by a person whose intention was to make you feel as though you were to be slaughtered there before dawn.
While this year I admittedly vomited again, I must clarify that it was not because the chef had sprinkled fecal matter onto my samosa, but because I had been coaxed to drink sangria (by my doctor/lawyer/scientist/writer/mathematician friends) while sailing the Mediterranean. Like, ON A BOAT. Like, on a boat on the water with a sail thingy. While wearing a gold watch and a sarong and a designer bikini. There was no damp duvet smelling of human bodies, no shigellosis, no firearms, and no fear. My pedicure was intact. This vacation was different.
August 1st began with the honeymoon suite overlooking Santorini's caldera. It was by far the fanciest hotel I've ever stayed, so when I walked out of the room the first day in my decade-old powder pink gym shorts and the housekeeper stopped me to whisper "Miss, you cannot go upstairs like that", I thought I had made a mistake by booking a place reserved for pretentious snobs. But during the five seconds of mental exhaustion in which I began to formulate my righteous rebuttal, I realized that she was actually an angel sent from the heavens of the Tholos Resort itself, saving me from impending social suicide in a moment where I had unknowingly been gifted an early arrival of my biological alarm clock saying: "you're fertile, but not pregnant".
We spent three blissful days going on long explorative strolls, shoving souvlaki into every orifice, and drinking adult beverages in our private jacuzzi. And you know what? I don't even feel a little bit bad about it.
There's something magical that happens when people who are used to traveling decide instead to take a vacation. There is a difference people. We unwound and we relaxed. In the absence of vigilance we had the chance to talk to each other about current events, music, literature. To ask questions other than: "honey, where are the quinolones?" or "are you still pooping blood?" or "do you think those guys are going to rob us?". We had our guards down, and in the process were reminded of our mutual peculiarities. Had Giulio not acquired a farmer tan on day 1 and I not perpetually eaten ungodly amounts of raw onions, I'd say we might have fallen in love all over again.
On day four we packed up for Milos. We had five days there zooming around on ATVs, wandering through every deserted beach we could find, wrangling vipers in the desert (lies), and covering our bodies in baklava.
Then we met up with our friends Bruno and Valentina, Bruno's uncle Guglielmo, and Guglielmo's longtime friend "Bob" for a week of sailing. We started in Athens and made our way down to Cape Sounion, Kythnos, Serifos, Sifnos, and eventually back to Milos. Over the course of the week I barfed once, Giulio almost barfed twice, and one person not to be named took multiple craps in the ocean (it wasn't me, Valentina, Guglielmo, or Bob). I was assured that this was in line with standard sailing etiquette, but have some doubts about the veracity of such an assertion.
And with that, late night talks of constellations under an ouzo illuminated sky came to a halt.
The day after we returned from Greece, my best friend Marah came galloping in from Montana to grace me with her presence for two weeks. If I could chain her to me without being socially chided, I would make us each other's permanent accessory.
We started our Eurocation in Budapest under the semblance of my 30th birthday. Yarden flew in from Milan and my cousin Hannah from England. My cousin Dávid, his girlfriend Zsu, and our mutual friend Eszter came down from Pécs, and Milla sent champagne over from across the atlantic. For three days we relaxed in the bathouses, danced on many a floor, watched fireworks, took a cruise down the Danube, braided each other's hair, and ate cream puffs in the plush beds of our presidential suite.
After the third night we flew back to Milan and immediately hopped in a car headed for the Italian Riviera. Over the weekend we hiked and ate a varied diet of prosecco, gelato, seafood, and pesto smothered on anything nontoxic or toxic.
When we came back to Milan on Sunday night, it was mine and Marah's intention to spend the next three days hiking in the Italian Alps. But the weather was crap and we were less than enthusiastic about trudging through mud in the cold. So we started throwing around alternative ideas as a matter of playfulness, and before we knew it were paying homage to Signor C. Diem with flights booked to Ibiza for the following morning.
I could have never imagined what we'd be in for. To summarize, we stayed in our bikinis for three days dancing to electronic dance music and nourishing ourselves on bananas, calippos, and bloody mary's (for vitamins). The good vibes were being handed out faster than condoms in Planned Parenthood. The place was magic.
And then there was Amsterdam. A decision fueled less by the inviting prospect of legalized prostitution and more by the opportunity to watch our dear friend Megan Kalmoe compete in the World Rowing Championships. We made it in time to see her take home silver in the women's pair, second to the reigning olympic gold medalists from London. Everyone was very happy.
(She's a mega babe too.)
In between rowing events, we squeezed in a little more electronic dance music at the Voltt Loves Summer Festival. Just below you can see me posing with some
Dutch Hollandaise paying tribute to my country while I paid tribute to Spain. There was a lot of love in the air. And then there was Mr. G. You just need to youtube that.
And yes of course we also had some time to reap the benefits of Amsterdam's progressive attitude, a decision which we evidently found imprudently amusing. If this photo doesn't make you laugh then you must be glaringly stone cold.
To close, I got to pass some time with my favorite Dutch man ex-colleague friend who I met four and half years prior while working in an immunology lab in Southern California. It's a beautiful thing to slam a beer with someone outside the context in which you typically know them.
Now I'm back in Milan and the endless summer has ended. Marah and Giulio have both buggered off to faraway lands and I have found myself starving for serotonin and eating plain pasta straight from the pot in effort to convince my body to release some more. I'm studying brain circuits which is not nearly as interesting as it sounds. I've got three computer tabs open to the effect of Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Immanuel Kant which serves to cyclically distract and depress me. I smell of mosquito repellant. My face might as well be one giant pimple. But I smile thinking back to what was really the best summer ever.