I visited Italy for the first time in 2008, as part of a summer vocal seminar. I was lucky enough to spend three rich, full weeks in the land of the Renaissance, thin-crust pizza, and wine. And yes: it was as good as it sounds. I cannot stress how wonderful those 21 days were. I am tickled pink to be returning.
Heck, I’m tickled pink to be going anywhere, let alone to a country responsible for the Sistine Chapel, the Pope, and Diane Lane’s cinematic mid-life crisis. I love to travel. I think my dream job would be a travel blogger, responsible for taste testing new Chiantis throughout Tuscany. Or sampling gelati in the shadow of the Duomo. Or taking shots of limoncello beneath the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Fodors/Frommers/Lonely Planet: I’m your girl if you have an opening.
There just something about travel that electrifies me. I love seeing new places and trying new things. I don’t even have to travel to a foreign locale; I’d be content with a small town of the coast of Maine, or a tiny hamlet in England. Heck, I’d even be up for a day trip to Ashtabula, Ohio if it meant discovering new places.
What is it about seeing something for the first time that subconsciously makes us put on rose-colored glasses? I am addicted to that feeling, the rush of experiencing something you’re not familiar with. Is it because we’re just so grateful to be away from home? Maybe. Is it because it’s a break from our normal, boring routine? Perhaps. Is it because we’re free from all work responsibilities for a few days? Most assuredly…but it’s more than that.
Think back to a recent vacation you took, whether local, foreign, or even an overnight trip. I’m going to use Italy for the sake of my own example. I remember that vacation as if it was yesterday. Nearly every morning, I woke up, without an alarm, around 6 AM because I was so damn excited to be in Italy. My mind knew sleep would be plentiful back in the States. In Italy, early mornings meant more time for Italian cuisine.
There was this tiny little bar down the street from my residence in Florence. I frequented that place almost every morning for un caffé (coffee) and uno pasticcino (pastry). There was something so exciting about stopping for a shot of espresso and a Nutella-filled crescent. I engage in the same routine here during the school year, but for some reason, it’s just not the same at Starbucks. Breakfast in Italy: the best thing in the whole damn world. Breakfast in the States: a cup of coffee with a side of meh.
I was constantly happy in Italy. This may have been due to the carb & wine overload I embarked on, but I never had a moment of sadness or anxiety. La dolce vita, amiright? And I had unmitigated energy…the kind of get-up-and-go I desperately crave during my 6 AM wake up calls before work. I wanted to see everything and I wanted to go everywhere, not a moment to be lost.
Even eating was an experience akin to sky-diving or bungee-jumping. You can absolutely get food adrenaline over there. The pizzas were thinner, crisper. The panini were crunchier, more flavorful. And the wines? I’m pretty sure I heard the wine laughing at us as we downed carafe after carafe. It knew. It knew we had inferior wine in the USA. We knew it, too, which is why it flowed as freely as water during meals. If you didn’t know wines could talk, you need to drink more Italian wine.
I’m not here to prove how wonderful a vacation to Italy is (there really was never a debate, it’s euphoric). Rather, I’m here to figure out how to live my day-to-day life as if I’m on a trip, because you will never see a happier version of Kate when she’s on vacation.
Yes, I know what you’re probably thinking.
- Of COURSE everyone’s happier on vacation. There are no responsibilities: no work, no alarm clocks, and no to-do lists.
- You’re not stuck at home, mindlessly carrying through your daily grind. Who WOULDN’T be happier?
- You were in freakin’ Italy! Who WOULDN’T be happier in freakin’ Italy?
I agree with all of those statements, but it goes deeper than that. When I go on vacation, I fall into a completely different state of mind: I let small annoyances float by me, I’m more tolerant of other people, and I’m EXTREMELY more patient. In other words, I get out of my own way so I can have the maximum amount of fun. I’m not going to ruin anyone’s trip. I only want to do the best I can to make the trip as flawless as possible.
Isn’t it funny how we are able to let go of our worries and anxieties the minute we step off a plane? Isn’t it fascinating that a new town or city can instantly snap our attention to the present? And isn’t it a wake-up call that we’re better versions of ourselves on vacation?
I want to live my whole life like I’m on vacation. I want to get out of my own way and treat my Keurig-brewed coffee in the morning as if it was poured in Florence. I want to experience things like I’m seeing them for the first time. And I want to hear my bottle of wine whisper sweet nothings into my inebriated ear.
You can’t spell “vitality” without “Italy.” Take a vacation from your life without ever leaving home. View the world as if it’s the first time you’re seeing it. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find those rose-colored glasses and a slice of heaven.