The familiar beat of an old song floated through the wooden walls of the coffee shop.
Oh you, I thought, I haven't heard you in a very long time.
And I smiled as the verse bled into the chorus, and all the beats thumped along the plaster crowning, like the ticks of a clock.
Dimmed by smog and clouds, the sunlight streaming through the window made me yearn for clearer European sunlight. I thought of the windy beaches of Normandy, and the sunny villages, and the clear night air in Montmartre. I thought of the taste of gnocchi and wine, and the scent of Piazza Navona on a rainy spring evening. I remembered the taste of nutella and gelato on my tongue, the feel of the hostel sheets, the first sip of cappuccino in the morning, the flour in the air of Dar Poeta, the winding streets of Trastevere in the fresh air of morning.
I thought of Lisieux and Chartres, of LeMans, and places I never knew that I had to fall in love with that won my heart and captured a distinct part of my soul. I especially thought of LeMans, of how each turn of each corner brought beauty, surprises, something that would break your heart and put it back together again. Trickling from that city, a sense of purpose ever since then has been firmly grounded in my heart.
My feet are getting itchy once again. It is spring, snow is melting, and I am feeling airborne.
I am longing for the streets of the Old City in LeMans, these winding, magic passageways, of old houses with ancient, antique door-knockers, and musty, gothic corridors; for the smell of the cold March wind that rushes through and old arch-way, and rustles your spring coat. I miss the stars above the crumbling staircases, and I miss the banks of the Seine in twilight.
I thought of all the adventures that March has always brought me, and for the first time in a long time, I am feeling very confined. Nostalgia keeps whisking me back to Roma, to Paris, to places that have brought me adventures, laughter, and broken Lenten diets. Places that have brought me hope and sorrow, heart-break, happiness, and sights of beauties I had only read about in books. Places that have stained my fingers with curry and have stained my heart with wanderlust.
I closed my eyes and remembered the rain in St. Peter's square, and the arms of the church all around me as the white smoke poured out of the chimney. I felt all of the magic that I have seen bubble up inside me and pour out, forcing me to stand up, leave the coffee-shop, and journey out into the blue sky, threaded with the smell of spring.
Traveling is when all the books you've ever read come to life: when all the lessons we have learned through ink and paper come to vivid life; when we learn how to navigate airports and crises, make friends of locals and new pieces of ourselves.
How would we ever learn these things about ourselves if we did not go to find it?