something to honk about
Yesterday I shared with you a story of a stranger’s missed connection. Today I will tell you about my own.
First the back story: Sadly, my mother died of cancer when I was 19. She had always helped focus and encourage me and without her I was adrift. I decided to change universities and to take a semester off in between. I worked for my dad over the summer, saved money, and I took a six week trip to Europe, in winter, during my semester off. I was 20 by then. I met up with my best girlfriends who were studying abroad in Spain. I then traveled alone to Paris, France, and to visit a male friend who was studying in Sweden. Then I joined up with my girlfriends in Amsterdam for a weekend after which I traveled by myself again by train to Italy.
I got on a train in Germany and rode overnight to Italy. I fell asleep on the train and when I woke up early in the morning we were going through the Swiss Alps. There was these incredible high, steep peaks covered in snow all around us as the train sped on by. It was like waking up in a fairy tale. Across the aisle from me were a group of four Italian men who had boarded sometime while I was asleep. They were a little older than me, maybe five or ten years older. One of them was watching me very intently.
I smiled at him. His buddies were joking, in Italian, about the attention he was giving me. We quickly understood that they knew no English and I knew no Italian. So this handsome young man with this broad smile began to sing to me. I don’t know what the words were, but it felt like a love song. My heart expanded like a balloon. I had just woken up in the train against this stunning backdrop of the snow covered Alps and now this strong, ruddy Italian was singing me a song in a language I didn’t understand, but my heart felt like it knew the meaning exactly.
When we reached Italy’s border, some guards came on board the train. They searched the bags of the young Italians. They all smiled at me, the young men on the train, and showed that they were unworried, they didn’t have anything contraband, and ‘whatever’ about their bags being searched. I smiled back and acted nonchalant while my stomach was clenched in fear. I didn’t know how thorough this search was going to be.
Little did my new friends know, but I had several grams of marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms from Amsterdam. Thankfully they were all on my person (in my pants at that very moment, to be exact) and not in my backpack. But none of my things were searched anyway. And so when the train pulled away from the border station, I sighed with relief.
You may judge me and say it was stupid for me to be crossing borders with those things, but I never regretted it, except for that very brief moment when I thought there was a chance I would be found out. It was well worth the trouble later in my trip when I ate magic mushrooms at the famous Park Guell, designed by Gaudi, in Spain. The park is a mushroom trip on it’s own, even when you are sober. But that is another story…
So there I was on the train with this adoring young Italian across from me and we were all headed to Milan, which was my destination at the time. But now comes the heartbreak. As was my plan, I disembarked in Milan. The Italians stayed on the train and pulled away without me. I had nothing and nobody in Milan. It was my plan to sight see in the famous city, but as soon as that train left the station, I knew I should have stayed on it. I should have followed them wherever they were going. I had nowhere else I really needed to be and I could have come back to Milan afterwards.
They probably went to some little Italian village where I could have had a really authentic experience of Italy with my new suitor. But I missed my chance. I knew immediately from the ache in my soul that I had made a crucial mistake. But it was too late. The most romantic thing that had ever happened to me, and I let it slip away. So I will always wonder. And wish for what could have been.