Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do…
– Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Today’s the last day of July. Oh, where have you gone? The summer usually seems endless, much like everything else, until it's almost over. As I wrap up my time in Heidelberg, studying German and staring listlessly at 18th century structures, it occurs to me that the summer moves and melds, one day into the next. It’s almost like time is altered—the sun baking everything into bright Jell-O, and then, quite suddenly, it's ended, replaced with the ticking of clocks.
As I practice piano music for my audition, the bustle of Bismarckplatz melds into the time of Beethoven. Time slows—some birds fly in the languid air. I close the window and turn on the fan. Reality here is altered. The trivial is often serious; the serious, trivial. There’s the strange, but it’s strangely familiar. The normal is…not normal at all. Dreams and reality often conflate.
My parents and I love travelling together, which is why I’m able to be in Heidelberg—one of the world’s most magical cities—studying German. Weirdly, I also have to recommend its Asian restaurants. They’re fantastic.
Recently, we went to visit family in Maine for July 4th. My mother’s cousin has a lake house affectionately known as “camp;” often, the words “we’re heading out to camp” are heard echoing among different family members as an impromptu party is held. The water is always crystal clear, the pine trees a deep nettle green, the weather is always good, the food is always fresh, and the company is always insightful
My house is located next to a state forest. The trees offer the arms out in comfort, and the sun rises over the pines and the fields in ungovernable brilliance. We quietly make sweet Asian pickles and Dutch pies.
The seemingly impossible fecundity of Maine and Connecticut and Germany induces drowsiness; the whirring of fans seems present even when none are on. My new life in Vienna seems to be the opposite of that. When I think about the fact that, in a few days, I’ll be abroad in Austria, I can’t stop thinking about Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I keep thinking about how the summer feels so long yet is so short, the utter nonsense of pursuing life-changing opportunities, and the characters and missteps I will take. And, of course, the next few days will seem impossibly long—but impossibly long is always too short.
I am about to pursue a terribly confusing journey. I don’t know what I’ll find when I get there. I’m traveling across an ocean to open my eyes, to become a better person. Several times along the way, I’ll want to go home. I’ll find riddles I can’t solve, and meet people I don’t understand. Everything will be different, yet the same.
But to see the world through a child’s eyes is to see the world as constantly odd, foolish, and hopelessly confusing—which I constantly find this trip to Vienna to be. What a fascinating, peculiar, and nonsensical thing it is! I have not been to Vienna, much less studied there, and curiosity has overtaken me; I have run across a large field to see it turn back and wink, then pop down a rabbit-hole.
Like Alice, this is the direction I must take. I must go down the rabbit-hole, never minding what lies beyond, take strange and unfamiliar roads, navigate the unknown, and follow my own curiosity and see whatever riddles it leads to. I’ll travel across mountains, navigate new streets, pass through dark woods, and meet all sorts of odd characters. I’ll walk in the dark night, finding myself in the coldest corners.
I’m going on a journey, and I don’t plan on coming back the same. Won’t you come with me?