Like most of you, I love summer… I love the sun, I love the beach, I love the outdoors, and I most certainly love margaritas (which I most certainly drink in the winter too…. Thanks to the never changing seasons of Los Angeles).  Anyway, it occurred to me the other day as I was reading through the rules and regulations of my son’s new summer camp how different life is now… This thought of “life then, life now” occurs to me often lately. In fact, as I sat watching fireworks last night from our balcony at home, I couldn’t believe that 14 years ago from that very moment, I was standing over the canals in Venice with my best friend… contemplating staying in Venice through the night or moving on to another city…

14 years ago, I graduated college from New York University and set out on an 8 week backpacking adventure through Europe with my best friend Lauren. Armed with a “Let’s Go Europe” and some traveler’s checks (remember those???) we had a few small goals:  walk down cobblestone streets, visit museums, smoke a lot of cigarettes, meet new people (aka boys), make out (with boys. Not each other), spend little to no money, get fat on gelato, go to a topless beach, and eat as much baguettes and Camembert cheese as possible (which we also got fat from)….  

What’s so crazy to me looking back is how lucky I am that the world changed so drastically AFTER our trip… Back then, we had no idea about bed bugs or “The 10 Dirtiest Things In a Hotel Room…” We opted for some potentially dangerous Youth Hostels… Nowadays, most people go out of their way to stay away from train stations. Not us! The cheaper the better.  There weren’t cell phones… Instead we used calling cards and used a “pull and pray” method to reach loved ones and fill them in on our whereabouts…  We traveled effortlessly and easily through borders and cities. The threat of terrorism or anti-American sentiment never a concern.  In fact, after Lauren decided to return home early, I ended up traveling by myself for 10 days (2 of those days in Amsterdam. Btw, even then, nothing I’d EVER recommend to a female traveling solo). At that point, I had already been just about “everywhere,” SO after a “Dazed and Confused” stop in Amsterdam, I hopped on a train and headed back down to the South of France. Because I could.  I’ll never forget having to share an overnight sleeper car with a German family who shamelessly shed all clothing before getting into bed. (If there was Social Media back then, you’d see plenty of photo updates of me hanging over the railing of a train, trying to shake off their body odor with lovely American cigarettes).
Did I mention that wearing overalls was in then too?
Ah. Things have changed…. personally and globally.
But back to Venice… 

So… 14 years ago, on July 4th, we stood on the canals of Venice after convincing a Gondola driver to let us hitch a ride back to the “gondola station,”  wondering if we should stay in Venice for the night… We had tried to check in to a few different hostels but all of them were booked and unavailable. We read and heard that if ever in a bind, sometimes convents, YES, convents, will take you in and let you stay for a small fee. Somehow we found one… 

Please imagine, if you will, two Jewish girls from Beverly Hills and New York City marching up to a medieval looking building with a huge wooden door and an iron ring to knock. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM…. The door swings open…. A nun appears. We say in broken Italian and English that we’re looking for a place to stay. With no spoken response, she slams the door CLOSED. 
We took that as a sign from above and headed to Zurich… I think… Or maybe it was Rome. Or Florence. I can’t remember. 
As a side note, as I’ve written about a dozen times, I have a horrible bird phobia. Knowing we couldn’t find a hostel to stay that day in in Venice, Lauren challenged me to a bet: If I could stand in St. Marco’s square, holding bird feed, thereby attracting the pigeons and allowing them to rest on my arms, she would pay for a hotel room. A real hotel room.

It didn’t happen. But I think to this day, the echo of my screams can be heard throughout all of Venice…. 

The point and reason for me writing about my European adventures is that a) 14 years ago seems like eternity and b) I am jealous. I’m jealous of the opportunities that post collegiate students have… Or any young person that really has no responsibility. I must admit that there is a sadness to knowing that I’ll never get to gallivant through Europe for maaaaaaaaaybe more than 7 to 10 days a time (sans child) and I’ll certainly never be able to do it without updating the world via Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook etc… Someone back here will know of my whereabouts at all time and I probably wouldn’t want them to know just how much Camembert I had consumed….. There would be no such thing as saving film for Trevi Fountain or Trafalgar Square… I’d be able to point and shoot AND check the shot until my arms looked just right and my smile looked just candid enough…. 
Yes, oh yes. Things have changed… personally and globally.
Going to savor my moments of summer camp forms and kindergarten registration now… in 14 years, Jonah will be 19.  I’ll start saving for a calling plan now….
FILED UNDER: A Little Life

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