I began this post last night as titled "That One Time In Milan," and it commenced:
"No, I'm not talking about that time I almost got pregnant and fled the country post haste, or how I didn't pay metro fare for an entire weekend in Vienna. Not that either of those ever happened. Or maybe. WHICH ONE IS IT."
...and then I realized that the story I had intended to tell about the one day I got a head- and foot-ache walking around town and went home to avail it with a nice hot bath and other modicum of relaxation techniques that did not work, only to sit down and draw and become magically cured, thus proving my philosophy on bodily cues, is waaaaay less interesting and scintillating and potentially heartbreakingly inappropriate for certain member of my family that may be reading, than the time that I actually did almost get pregnant in Milan and flee the country mere days later. Plus I have something equally scintillating and potentially heartbreaking to make the point I was previously discussing. It will have to wait for our less pressing conversations.
I took myself to Europe three years ago to gain the kind of culture an early-twenties, midwestern Suburbianite can only fantasize about in dreams of international fame and artsy boys with Italian accents. I was staying in the foothills of the Alps on the Italian side, just outside of Milan. I ate a lot. I slept a lot. I traveled to Paris for a week and Vienna for a weekend to fall in love with my idols all over again. I also didn't talk much, seeing as Europeans can be just as big of assholes as we Americans are to our Southern continental neighbors.
(On a side note, I did meet that artsy guy with the Italian accent. Well, not so much an accent per se, as an entire language. One whose comprehension of English went so far as "forest." No I mean it, that was the only English word he knew. I learned a lot of Italian from him. Also later that he had a girlfriend and was "Jesus' age when he died," as he put it. It didn't end well.)
A friend of mine and I met in Paris to explore the city for the week. Upon our departing day I had the chance to meet one of his bunkmates at the hostel where we last stayed. He was a pipsqueek of a kid with ambition and too big a fancy for Jack Kerouac. I employ the word "fancy" because he was also British.
The three of us, traveling the Metro at the same time soon discover that LO AND BEHOLD, FancyPants and I are both headed to Milan. Me for my return and he to get all "On The Road" with some literary reference to the city that only a pretentious 19-year old can conjure (ok, YES, I went to Vienna to walk the same glorious streets that Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele once trod and tattoo their philosophy on my arm. I know what you're thinking. IT'S NOT THE SAME).
I told him the lake I was staying on was pretty shnazzy. He made some literary "aha!" over the lake. I told him to come hang out. A few days later, we were eating pizza and drinking a liter of wine. Ok, maybe two liters. Ok, maybe two liters, a gin and tonic, and a bar-bought bottle of wine from the B&B where he was staying, just for safe measure. There was a couple asking us to breakfast the next morning, ok? We had to keep talking and drinking! It's the Italian way!
So, anyways, I suppose by now you can see where this is going. By the next morning I was slightly less drunk and increasingly more concerned of what the gentle village folk might think of a trollop like me staggering home at 7 o'clock in the morning. But I had to get out of there. Ladies, you know why I had to get out of there.
By far and away, this is the stupidest thing I will ever admit to having taken part. I do not recommend this brand of behavior to anyone. Maybe in Florida on Spring Break or something. NOT in a foreign country, contact-less, and without proper understanding of the native tongue. Just, don't do it, promise?
Several fevered google-searches, an eternally long Easter weekend (do you know that fucking everything is closed in Italy on Easter weekend? Including Monday? That means no Walgreens, ladies. Talk about Jesus freaks) and one pitiful head-shake from a Farmacia tech later, I found myself in a south-bound spiral of OHMYGODHOLYSHIT-ness.
I did return fairly shortly after this incident. I'd like to say it was not altogether out of shame or sheer terror, but it largely was. That and the fact that I was out of money. Like, two weeks prior out of money. So to my flight attendant friend did I run and Chicago via JFK did I land. It was a great trip; a more enlightening and soul-stirring trip than any I could have conjured in my artsy-boy dreams. But to this end it did, well, end.
I don't tell you this story to regale you with my bad-assitude or to inspire pity or, possibly, revulsion. I tell it because even today, some three years and far worse heartbreaks later, it is one of the greatest lessons I have yet to let sink into my life-hardened skull.
I'm not talking about the blatantly obvious "don't-do-stupid-shit-you-stupid-shit" lesson. Because we'll all do stupid shit sometimes. We'll all hook up with underage strangers in our slutty years because they tell us we're pretty. We'll all get ourselves into situations we'd tell our Grandchildren not to get into. But what I learned in the short week and a half I spent in Nebbiuno following this great lapse in judgement, is the value of acceptance.
Acceptance for me, at that time, meant acknowledging that I was in a potentially horrifying situation. Acceptance for me meant that while said situation could pan out in several different ways at some abstract point in the future, there was literally nothing I could do at that particular moment about it. All I could do was enjoy the beautiful country surrounding me, soak in as much as I could in my remaining time, and hope for the end most in line with my life's path.
BUT. This is my life's greatest lesson thus far because, as I've mentioned so subtlely before, I tend toward the anxious temperament. It is very easy for me to run through the "what if's" over and over again until the hamster in my skull's wheel dies of dehydration. But in that moment, with nothing else on my side except my own self-awareness, I chose to accept and move on. And you know what? Things turned out pretty dandy. Even if it took me a while to get rid of my pizza cheeks.