I watch pink clouds dissipate into twilight, and in this moment, I realize that I only have seven more sunsets in my home of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It feels as though it’s summer that is setting, summer and all its essence: long hours of daylight, talks with friends, dinners with family, and my way of living and being in this sun-soaked time. On the 18th of August, my flight leaves for Vienna, Austria, where I will continue my musical studies with IES Abroad.
As I sit with the changing of night, I think passing time, and what I’d like to transition with me. These are a few of my most important packing items, one for each of my remaining nights in the United States.
I purchased this brown, leather journal last summer in Orvieto, Italy where I sang with the program Orvieto Musica: Art of Song. It was my first experience abroad, and it showed me a beauty and perspective that I deeply cherish. I remember those moments of growing a sweet rapport with the local cafe workers, or other moments of sitting on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the Umbrian landscapes. I remember them, and I think of all the similar yet different moments that will soon fill these pages. Words have been dear to me since I was too young to write them down. I recall moments of a grandparent rushing for paper and pen to record my story of fairytale-like-ducklings. I finished my first novel at age twelve, my first play at fourteen, my first screenplay by fifteen. Four of my formative teenage years were spent as a creative writing major, and though my major has since changed, I have continued finding light in literary pursuits.
The back of this journal is engraved to read: Made in Italy. There is a Fleur-de-lis above the writing.
Monday: Universe Necklace
Given to me by my parents last Christmas, this necklace has a crescent moon filling the left portion of its pendant. Jewels shaped as stars and the carvings of silver craftsmanship swirl around the rest of the circle. It think of it as “the machinery of night,” which is a line from Allen Ginsberg’s poem, "HOWL."
Tuesday: Rose Quartz
On my 12th birthday, my older brother by 18 years gave me three stones: moonstone, amethyst, and rose quartz. He spoke of their respective energies and elements of influence: to bring light, leave dark, and promote love. Well, that is my memory of their explanations. Since then, I have found rose quartz to be the most prevalent throughout my life. I always keep one in my purse (along with malachite—for the throat—but unrelated).
Wednesday: Flower Flannel
It’s more of a button-up than a flannel, though the material is reminiscent of denim. Either way, I like the alliteration and have called it my Flower Flannel since first wearing it during a camping trip in Maine with my brother last summer. I have many meaningful memories in this cherished article of clothing. It previously belonged to my grandmother.
Thursday: Tarot Cards
Given as another birthday gift from my brother (though at a later time), my Thoth tarot deck by Aleister Crowley has been a brilliant source of illumination.
Friday: Chamomile Lavender Tea
This is a favorite of mine by Traditional Medicinals Tea. I’m not sure if I will find it abroad, so I want to make sure that I have a taste of home in my mug every now and again. I am also eager to try any warm drink that I come across in Vienna!
Saturday: Bukowski, Eliot, and more
Though I will spend most of my non-academic time experiencing Vienna and traveling around Europe, reading always influences writing and perspective. I have not entirely settled on which books to bring, but this is my current list: What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire by Charles Bukowski, "The Waste Land" by T.S. Eliot, and Dubliners by James Joyce. I have read selections from the first two, and none of the third.
I will bring a few books of sheet music, too, though which of those make the suitcase are undetermined. The only sure one is "The Lieder Anthology."
Of course there are many other items to pack, but these are some of the most dear to me for their sentimentality, or functionality.
Despite nostalgic musings which may be translatable to future homesickness, my excitement for the coming months has few words. I sat with a family friend last night, and she asked me, “Do you ever miss home?” For most of the year, I reside in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for my studies at Gettysburg College. I am a rising junior majoring in Music Performance with a voice concentration, and my studies rarely lend time to Philly nights like this—sitting in the backyard next to a fire, talking beneath the star-speckled sky. I spent a month of this past summer singing as a studio artist in the art song program SongFest in Los Angeles, California. The summer before that, I sang in Orvieto, Italy. My spring breaks are also devoted to musical travels, whether it be singing competitions or choir tours with Gettysburg College Choir. I thought about all of this, and how I have felt in each time and place.
“No,” I said, “I tend to make home wherever I am. I’m good at settling in.” As her question rests in the quiet of my thoughts, I realize that my answer is only partly true. When you make homes in many places, with many people, there is always somewhere or someone from whom you are apart. I always miss that someone, and I always miss that home, whether it be Philadelphia, Gettysburg, Orvieto, or soon: Vienna.
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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>