Sweet anticipation (Cinque Terre)

I was never a I want to be in the peace corps, or I'm signing up to be a stewardess type, so I could travel. Travel seemed exotic, something my grandparents did on their cruises. Someday.

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Someday came sooner than I'd thought.

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I found out my first year of college on a trip to London where I nibbled on digestives (what?!) and laughed over an outlet exploding a hairdryer and sat in John Keats' garden: this world is way bigger than I ever thought.

The people, though, the people are all more alike than I'd thought. There are, admittedly, times I'm talking to my British friends and say What? You actually think that?! and we all laugh, and they say the same to me. But other times, we're padding along the beach both seeing the same blues and froths and sparkles, and we're just humans, loving something beautiful. I love seeing that. When we have friends from all over the world framing our table, and we're all laughing so hard that's it's silent. That is what I love about traveling. The connection of beauty, humanity everywhere. The fact that you can find something to talk about with almost anyone seated next to you on an airplane, even if it's that the air vent smells like tar.

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Traveling has expanded what I hold inside, glowing memories of beauty. The satin Mediterranean lined with bedraggled yet colorful houses with wooden shutters. Italy.

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Two years ago, I was cringing. Why am I traveling this week? This week? An amazing friend had arranged a trip to Italy, had some friends bail, and I slipped right in several weeks before. I was going to Italy! But then I met this guy. And spring break meant we couldn't keep walking endlessly along the beach, and I was only carrying a backpack, so no internet. My first night of the trip, in London, I sat in the hall with my cell phone so my friend could sleep, and intermittently darted back into the bathroom every time the hall security passed by. That was the last time I was going to hear this voice for two and a half weeks! We survived.

I landed in a place I have long said is the most beautiful place I've ever been, if beauty could be rated on a scale. Riomaggiore. Vernazza. Corniglio. Florence. Venice. Manarola. (Minus the no-Walker) Bliss.

They got me on my first breath with their lemon groves on stepped hills billowing with sweet, sweet air, (these are all photos taken with my 2004 point-and-shoot that died on that trip)

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and the smells of leather and waffles in Florence. Walking between villages through hills snuggled together against the beauty of the blue waves shattering against the cliffs below will always seem surreal.

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The food tastes better in that sweet air; the tangy parmesan reggiano, the olive oil flatbreads, the oranges.

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Dreaming the present away is not something I condone. But anticipation, ah, anticipation is sweet like Italian coastal air. We've needed that.

So, I am eating marmalade pastries in my mind, dreaming of our upcoming spring break. We hope you come along. We are gratefully dreaming of teal seas and tropical gelatos and sharing it all with you!