I just woke up. It’s 3:51 in the morning in Copenhagen, Denmark. The streets are bustling with a combination of loud partiers trying to soak up the last moments of a great night and hard working locals preparing for a long work day. I’m laying on a mattress at the Generator Hostel right on the outskirts of the city center. Bright sunlight and noise from outside drift through the window and settle in for the long haul. Because of how far north Copenhagen is situated on the globe, the sun doesn’t take long after midnight to reveal itself again. The man assigned to the bed across from me just walked in. He was asleep and snoring loudly at 8 pm, and he was still going by the time we went to sleep around midnight. Who knows what time he got up to go out again only to return just now. Just doing his own thing, I guess– middle-aged, clad in tight black leather pants that struggle to meet his waistline, and a penchant for coughing up phlegm and passing gas– a memorable roommate to start off this month long backpacking tour of Europe.
You never know what kind of people you’re going to bunk next to, or where you might wind up when you’re abroad. All you can really do is commit to enjoying the ride.
After a month and a half of working as a framer and a farm hand, followed by cashing in paychecks and a lifetime savings of cash and coins, my two travel-mates and I finally took off for the long anticipated, “once in a lifetime” post-grad, month long European backpacking trip. Armed with our cameras and travel packs stuffed to the brim, 11 countries by train in twenty eight days should give us the experience we’ve been hoping for.
I’m happy to have this opportunity to experience a world across the vast ocean yet again. My heart longs to know. I want to know of other worlds, other customs and cultures, other buildings and languages, but most of all, the people who make these other ways of life so beautiful. Like the man in the bed across the room from me- yeah, I’m still trying to decide whether I should laugh or fear for my life with his guttural Hagrid grunts and bear-like heaves, but just because he’s different in his habits doesn’t make him not worth knowing or understanding. I’m thankful for the opportunity to see this part of the world with friends before another, bigger journey begins for me in South Africa.
So many moments and experiences in life prepare us for greater moments to come. Ever since I was blessed enough to receive the Lumos award, moments seem more pivotal in the preparation of my project there with the Law and Human Rights Department in Cape Town. I think my experience there will break me. Not broken in a way that I can’t be put back together, but rather broken in a way that we can only know through seeing worlds other than our own, taking part in lives that we couldn’t imagine, and bearing pain that we have no remedy for. The kind of breaking that leaves you with a scar, but looking back at it brings back memories not of the pain you still feel, but the beauty of healing that those moments of scarring brought into your life.
I hope that through my experiences in South Africa, and all the moments leading up to it, my heart and mind will learn and grow and break and heal and grow stronger. I am surrendering to all the moments between now and the end of my stay in Cape Town; I embrace all that is to come.