Brown boots, knitted sweater, jacket unzipped as the cool breeze blows by. The perfect fall temperature – crisp but not cold. The smell of damp leaves permeating the air and the sound of chestnuts clattering to the ground and rolling down the hill along the cobblestones. Alyssa’s long blonde hair bouncing as she giggles in anticipation of our trip to Turkey in November.
The scents of cinnamon and doughnuts and hot dogs intermingle with the occasional cigarette as I wait for the tram. A scream of laughter from the park behind me. The now familiar station names in the effortlessly soothing automated voice. A good book and my travel mug for company as a light rain starts to fall outside the window.
Children yelling my name as they run over for a hug, little hands grasping mine and pulling me this way and that. Look at this drawing, let’s play that game. Anna is in the kitchen, putting schnitzel on the stove, potato salad ready in the fridge. Traditional Czech beer to drink and freshly picked plums for dessert. Reviewing Emma’s reading homework, getting help on my verb conjugations. Playing nonsense games with Jachym on the floor as Filip watches the news.
Falling asleep to the pitter patter of rain on the window, cuddled under a warm blanket with a book by my side. My door silently closed as Anna wakes to make breakfast for the kids.
I often forget how lucky I really am. Yesterday, as a group of friends and I were talking about traveling, one of them made the nonchalant comment that they aren’t afraid to travel alone. That comment shocked me, because I realized that there are people my age who are afraid to travel alone. Who have never navigated public transportation in another country (let alone another language) before now. I am incredibly blessed that my parents started letting me travel alone before I even had a sense of any danger (unaccompanied minors for the win!). For letting me travel to Japan for three weeks, twice. For giving me the freedom to learn independence and to test and expand my own boundaries.
I’m so lucky, not only to be studying in Prague, but to have done everything I have done in my life, to have had all the experiences I’ve had. To have parents who were willing and able to pay my way through college, so I can spend the money I earn as I see fit (namely, traveling!). To have had teachers that forced me to push my boundaries until I realized that I have no limits.
Sometimes, I think that maybe I’m too lucky, that too many wonderful things happen in my life. But I think the only way to face that issue is to take advantage of every opportunity I have. To embrace the experiences and make the best out of them all. This weekend, I’m taking that tact, doing as much as I possibly can. I’ll be watching traditional Czech cartoons tonight with a mug of homemade mulled wine in hand, hitting up the Prague Burger Fest and maybe a movie tomorrow, heading to Trebič on Sunday for a cultural experience like no other. Look for photos in my next post, and maybe even some book reviews, as I’ve been reading quite a bit since I got here.