As I sit here, about to sleep outside the Stresa train station in northern Italy, the phrase ‘one day, one room’ has never been so applicable. The term was coined by the producers of the TV show House; the meaning behind it is essentially that the story of our lives can be represented as a series of rooms. Each room builds on the previous ones you’ve been in but ultimately the only one you can affect is the one you’re in currently. You’re with who you’re with, doing whatever you’re doing right now so you might as well make the most of it. And if you never go back to that room, or you never see those people again, that’s ok because you’ve already been there and had that experience.
While sleeping on cobblestones outside in a tiny town in Italy clearly is no five star hotel experience, there is something that makes me feel alive being homeless for a night. And in case you were concerned about this (@family), this isn’t the beginning or end of some tragic story -- my brother and I knew this was a distinct possibility when we booked last minute train tickets in a foreign country. Our comical struggles to order our first Italian meal in Spanglish to a couple of Italians who didn’t speak English made up for our sleeping conditions. With no responsibilities or worries, even typically stressful situations are just another part of our adventure. And as we say in Stresa, ‘There’s no stress in Stresa’ (insert Italian accent). One day, one room.
Earlier that day, my brother and I had been snowboarding in the Swiss Alps -- by far the best skiing conditions we have ever had. Unlike on the east coast of the States, the mountains around Interlaken didn’t really have trails. We could ride wherever we wanted, often carving fresh tracks in snow over a foot deep -- the kind where you have to jump into each turn so you don’t catch an edge and fall. And while all the other skiiers wore jackets and scarves like normal people, we sported short sleeve t-shirts and mittens. If we fell in the deep troughs of snow, we were left freezing, briefly looking like a snowman before the snow quickly melted on our bare skin in the 65 degree heat. After all of the falls from the day, our bodies looked like we sprinted through a row of pricker bushes. We had a lot of fun snowboarding though and Switzerland was definitely one of the best rooms I've ever been in. One day, one room.
Even the ride back to town was interesting. The only way down is by gondola, onto which they pack 100 people, chest to chest. Dangling hundreds of feet in the air, we looked out and saw snow covered mountains that towered over the small village and lakes below. Rushing streams transformed to gentle waterfalls as they jumped off the cliffs and cascaded down the rock face coming together again to form a stream at the edge of Lauterbrunnen. The most interesting part of the gondola ride was how much culture we were standing there with. As my brother chatted with an eight year old boy from England, I listened to all the different languages: German, Swiss German (I didn’t even know this existed until we came to Switzerland), French, Italian, Spanish, English, Arabic, Mandarin, Japanese, Thai, and an Indian language I couldn’t recognize. These people came from all over the world, all with completely different pasts, distinct cultures and languages, but they all came to see the same thing as me. They were all blown away by the breathtaking beauty of this region of the world. And as we descended down an abruptly steep portion of the journey that made our stomachs drop, the entire gondola said a collective “AH!” and looked around smiling at one another, relieved to still be safely attached to the cables. For such a feeling, that’s the only reaction, and it transcends all language barriers. One day, one room.
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<p>There’s nothing like late night, deep talks, and solving the world’s problems. In Madrid, I’m looking to learn as much as I can, get to know as many people as I can, and get outside my comfort zone as much as I can. Come join the adventure.</p>