There are some moments in life that you just never, ever want to forget. Sure, obviously there’s the usual (birth of my children should probably be up there, wedding day, blah, blah, blah) but I’m talking about those moments when chance, spontaneity and the sheer joy of life just crash into one another and wipe out all rational thought and action.
They are so special, you keep them locked in your own personal tiny treasure chest in a far corner of your mind and heart. But sometimes, often when you least expect it, they shine through, making you feel all tingly inside and a smile tries to fight its way across your face. You know the kind.
I was in my mid 20’s before I took my first trip abroad. Everything about the planning that went into this trip was rational and deliberate. I had saved, researched and even prepared myself emotionally (ironic really) to deal with any fear factors associated with flying and being in a foreign country on my own.
But once on my travels, it was my emotions that ruled. Maybe it was the heightened senses that come with being in a foreign country and the everyday ‘first-time’ experiences that made me ‘feel’ rather than ‘think’. And I did ‘feel’ wonderful.
One evening in London I caught up with a friend of mine who was living there. We hit the local pub; it just happened to be an antipodean pub. Well, you can imagine the scene; loud, obnoxious, very drunk Australians all dancing rather badly to some grungy band doing classic Aussie rock covers, with a pint of Foster’s in hand. Yeah, wasn’t quite the London ‘scene’ I had hoped for.
However, in that crazy crowd a quiet and unassuming Italian struck up a conversation with me. He was visiting a friend too and was back off to Italy the next day. I was so swept up in his accounts of Italy, the food, his local haunts (and let’s be honest, his accent) before I knew it, I’d given him my number and we’d arranged to meet up in Rome in a few weeks.
Yup, totally and utterly crazy I know. He so could have been a stalker (pretty sure that’s what my friend thought). It was rather irrational of me to start handing out my number to a random stranger, in a foreign country and yet, it felt liberating.
It was so ridiculous, at least, for someone like me. I’m that person that always buys sensible cotton briefs, rather than the lacy, matching sets because they’re cheaper and much more practical.
I’m that person that studied English teaching because I knew it would provide a stable carer with a good Super, rather than follow my passion for writing or dance. I’m that person who plans everything so that very little is left to that fickle fiend, chance!
So, now you’re wondering if I followed through. Darn right I did! I met Paulo a couple of weeks later in Rome. I’d decided, to quit London and had spent the last two weeks travelling (no…eating my way) through Italy with a group of strangers.
We visited all the usual sights, but not long into the trip it was apparent, I’d left my rational brain elsewhere. I would happily converse with locals of all ages, despite that fact that I knew barely any Italian (Prego, I discovered had multiple uses). But damn I was giving it a good crack!
I ate pasta with cows bowels in Rome, performed on stage a traditional dance called the ‘Tarantula’ in Naples, to an audience of senior tourists, swam in the Tyrrhenian Sea off Sorrento in the middle of winter, and wound up getting kicked out of a salsa club in Florence, all without being under the influence of alcohol. Who would have thought?
Ok, so all this could have been on any young traveller’s agenda, I hear you say. Travel can make us do outlandish things, but this was me….the rational, play-by-the-rules, planner. These experiences were never on MY radar.
The final two days of my travels led me back to Rome and back to Paulo. I’d suggested we meet at the Spanish Steps. If you’ve seen Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, you’ll imagine the scene. Only joking, …..as if!
But, we did actually end up meeting in the centre of Rome and spent an afternoon wandering the streets, eating pasta, drinking Mojitos and chatting late into the night. That was it. But in that moment and in the weeks leading up to it, I felt free, liberated almost and just a little reckless. And it was in no small part down to the irrational decisions that led me there.
If I really think about it, this is the common thread that binds each of my special moments together, the part the irrational played in ruling out over the rational. Some might call it being spontaneous or even irresponsible, but I loooove the fact that in these moments, I threw caution to the wind, didn’t think about the specifics and just let myself get swept up in it.
While I’m not about to suggest that we all just let loose and go crazy here people, I do wonder if we should, just a little more frequently, stop that bugger of a brain from thinking sensibly and just let ourselves be a little……. irrational. Who knows what may come of it, but it’s bound to shake things up a bit and I reckon that’s gotta be a good thing.