Her hand rested comfortably on my shoulder as we watched planes take off into the inky sky like birds in a sporadic flock. “Before you know it, you’ll be on the other side of the ocean,” my mother whispered into my ear as she embraced me one last time before departure. I groaned at the thought of such a long plane ride, but she was right. In what seemed like a matter of moments, but was actually closer to 8 hours, I was whisked away to London. I had never really gone too far from home before, much less a completely separate continent, but I finally earned the opportunity when my school began offering a showcase of European countries. The night before we left I could hardly sleep as thoughts of the places I’d go rushed through my head.
When we arrived I thought I was going to be plagued by exhaustion, but it was as if the electric atmosphere that characterized London was able to recharge me. While exploring London, I was shocked by the contrast between regal architecture and modern fixtures. Only in London might one find a Dominos tightly snuggled between the walls of a building reminiscent of a miniature castle. After two days of breathtaking sights we ventured to Paris- a magically lit city that presented a romantic and nostalgic attitude. I was enthralled by both of these pulsing cultural meccas, but it wasn’t until Switzerland that I truly understood the magnitude of what I was experiencing.
Unlike the cities, everything was placid, and evidence of humanity was few and far between in the vast Swiss landscape. Mountains jutted into the sky like hands attempting to grasp the heavens, while rivers flooded through every crevice in the rock. That night, after we got off the bus in Lucerne, I rushed to my room to dress in exercise gear and run amongst the stars. It was frigid to the point where I could see my breath in front of me, but the temperature was invigorating.
My muscles ached and burned as I took what turned out to be my own personal tour. The roads were winding and curvy, and they often had paths that branched off into immense fields. When I reached one of these clearings I attempted to take photos, but no picture could capture the magic of the Alps and the clouds that graced their peaks. It was as if I was enclosed in a bubble of magnificence. I was so overwhelmed by what surrounded me that all I could scarcely manage to do anything but lay back on the grass and let the crisp air fill my lungs. All the while my eyes drunk in the landscape and burned it into permanent memory.
Being there, bathed in beauty and silence, a curiosity and wanderlust I had previously forgotten suddenly came rushing back. I felt renewed, and I established a newfound appreciation for nature and exploration. On the way back to the hotel my head swarmed with thoughts of the rich paradises earth fosters, and how I planned to explore them all. I never really believed that one moment could change a person’s life, but as I rushed past mist from waterfalls and felt the stems of wildflowers tickle my knees, I knew that somehow I had unlocked a new version of myself that longed to wander the earth until the end of time.
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