“It’s pollen season in Ferrara. These white things in the air – it almost looks like blossom. We notice it as soon as we get off the train – fluffy snowflakes dancing on the strength of the wind. Mace sneezes when he sticks his nose out in the air and catches a few. It reminds me of spring – when cherry trees loose their white or pink flowers, creating one of the most perfect romantic scenes.
The room we’re staying at is magical. The light is perfect, the stone floor gorgeous and smooth at the touch – like wet pebbles at the beach – and the colours beautiful and kind. There is something about this room that was ethereal and captivating. It also held a big mirror, on the wall, and I could see myself from whenever I was in the room. I normally don’t really like mirrors and avoid them mostly. But before my morning run, after waking up in a room too beautiful to put to words in a city equally as indescribable, I find myself standing in front of it, looking at myself emotionless, almost platonic, science-like.
I had already been learning so many things, acquired new knowledge and with new experiences in my backpack, I tried to look at myself with different eyes. I tried to look at myself like I was somewhat anew. It didn’t work as I imagined it to be, as if I suddenly ‘cured’ myself from the demons in my head and ridding my heart from the dark, but there was a positive result to draw from.”
I hope that when people think of me, or remember me, they picture me smiling. Perhaps you’ll even remember me cracking a stupid joke or being foolish, because I often feel like the funky idiot in the room. I hope they’ll remember me for my friendly advice, the odd hug, or that shoulder to lean on when needed. I hope they picture me in good spirits. However – as I briefly mentioned in my blog post released the day before I left – I know darkness as darkness knows me. We’ve been pals for quite a long time now, long enough to feel intertwined with it, to find comfort in that what used to scare me and to feel steady when tumbling down the rabbit hole. I like to think that I save my smiles for the people around me for they might need it more than me, but truth be told I just don’t like smiling at myself. I am a perfectionist by heart. Anything I do is never good enough.
Automatically, this makes me, not good enough.
“I don’t look like fancy models we’re confronted with on a constant steady and daily stream. The pressure of having to be ‘beautiful’ – the kind of beautiful that to me is always associated with being skinny – has sunk me into a deep hole before. I am not skinny. Because I have, at some point in my life, linked being skinny to being beautiful, I don’t consider myself as such for I am not skinny. I am not skinny so I am not beautiful. I feel as if we live in a society in which we are defined by our dress seize, which makes me ‘ medium’. Average. Not small, or skinny, but also not large, or fat. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be skinny. To be pretty. To look like the girls we see on television, in magazines, on our Facebook timelines or billboards across the city. The girls whom appear to have it all, living the life. Smiling. Happy. Beautiful. Skinny.
I tear my eyes down and look at my legs. God, I wish I had straight legs, not these oddly shaped, crooked, X-shaped legs that don’t seem to fit with the rest of my body. I find myself studying my legs more intently. I notice the scars, the bruises, the permanent markings and while I do this, something dawns on me. These legs have lived a heavy life. For 25 years, they’ve been carrying me. They’ve often carried too much weight as my soul was heavy and dark. They took the blows when I fell down. They, of all the other parts of my body, had to keep going. I could rest my head against a wall. I could pocket my hands to relax my shoulders. I could fold my hands when they were tired. But my legs always kept going for I always had to move forward. These legs, that now lift 30kg, march instead of walk for hours or run for miles – even running 10k’s just for fun – are the same legs I had when seven years ago, they told me in five years I’d be in a wheelchair.
I look at them again and instead of looking at chubby thighs or broad, thick upper legs, I see the permanent dent in my right upper leg. I see the bones around my knees. I see the muscle that I’ve build. I see my shins, the sharpness of my ankles and at the end, those wonky, bony, skinny, duck-like feet with an ugly set of toes (for the record, I am damned proud of owning this pair of ugly and deformed feet). I think of how far they have already taken me.
I think of how far I hope they’ll be able to take me.
I may not have skinny, model-like, straight legs, I tell myself, but they’ve taken me this way so far. And with that thought, I look at them in a different light.
The moment passes and I move on. We still have a long way ahead of ourselves, but the first step has been made.
We’re not there yet. I still crave for that feeling. I am still hungry. Satisfaction and content are pieces of a broken heart and we’ve been apart for so long, we both look like aliens to each other. And guess what? That’s alright. Perfection is, apart from infinitely, also terribly boring.
It’s pollen season in Ferrara. These white things in the air – it almost looks like blossom. “
It’s easy to put these words down now, for they have been written almost two months ago now, sitting there in that magical room in Ferrara. When I do find myself choking on the words like I know what they mean, I recall those times. Those times in Rome, Ferrara, Venice, Milan. The travels from Milan to Amsterdam – when I almost had to leave my dog behind – and then further travels with mum and Flynn as we drove to the north of France to catch the ferry to England, where again I had difficulties bringing my most beloved companion with me. Those times in Eastchurch. That blissful week in London. My time spent in Norwich with my brother and his family. The time spent in Scarborough.
I recall how I thought that the list would, at some point, end. But as I am writing this, I am adding Scotland to the list. Glasgow. Edinburgh. Soon, we’ll add more. This adventure isn’t over yet. I have much to learn still. I am smart enough to learn quickly, but when it comes down to myself, I always seem to take the detour.
Guess what? That’s alright – I am travelling.
I don’t mind some extra scenery.
To see the whole Italy series, please go here.