It is difficult defining the definite. There are times, more often than not, when I travel through thickening thoughts of wonder. Those places of thought and spaces in reality are polarizing. When I’m there, I’m never really here.
I spent the past weekend in Innsbruck, Tirol, a small town in Austria. By train, it is about four hours west of Vienna. There, I found an unusual balance between state-of-being and place-of-being. Perhaps this can be attributed to the pastel gloom that loomed in the town. I can be a gloomy gal at times, and I felt like Innsbruck and I understood each other. The buildings were peach, blue, yellow, green, and the Inn River streamed beneath them. The Alps, just above, were covered by clouds. Cobblestone roads lead to churches and cafés. We stopped at one for tea in the rain, sitting under an awning in synthetic fur chairs. The tea steamed with our breath, both forming clouds in the air.
There were shops with wooden cuckoo clocks, and there was a woman singing jazz in the center of the platz. An open umbrella sat in front of her where people exchange euros for CDs. We watched for a while before following the road to my previously mentioned spot (the most postcarded place in Innsbruck): the street with colorful buildings, the river, and the mountains. Majestic even in the hazy mist, I watched for hours. Fog billowed from crevices and trees, and the peaks were fully hidden.
The next morning, nine of us ventured up. We went by trolley, bus, and cable car to the very top of the Alps. The fog was thick. We went a while through trees and greenery, even the occasional hiker braving it out in 7 degree Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit) rain. A flock of wild sheep walked slowly down the mountain, and my roommate suggested we ask them where to get lunch. After all, they are locals in a way that we never will be.
I am not sure why we didn’t expect this, but as the cable car approached the top of Nordkette (also called Jewel of the Alps) we found ourselves in snow! It clung to the windows, and soon, it clung to us. The final cable car stop let us out to various hiking trails, one of which was a fifteen minute hike to the peak. I didn’t follow it very far since it was quite slippery with low visibility, but I did stand in the still of silence and snow. At the top of a perceivable everything, I felt miniscule, colossal, aimless, present, and whole.
A bit earlier, I read quotes from windows in the cable car stations. It was then, in the snow, when one truly settled in me:
“Schau ganz tief in die Natur, und dann verstehst du alles besser.”
“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”
It was presented in both German and English.
After a while, we reconvened in a café located a few floors above the cable car stop. We sat around a large wooden table drinking hot chocolate. Hair wet but drying, features rosy yet fading, we met each other, and ourselves, with varying levels of warmth.
I did not travel to Innsbruck in search of anything, but I seemed to find a lot. I certainly understood everything better.
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<p><span style="color:#333333">I am Brittney Sedgwick, a rising junior studying Music Performance at Gettysburg College. I sing classical music: art song, opera, chamber music, and more. Before attending Gettysburg, I spent four years studying creative writing. I love reading poetry, drinking tea, going for sunset walks, and stargazing. </span></p>