Sunday, May 29, 2011

How My Homecoming Was God-Worthy

Hey lovers.

I had this lovely entry a few pages long typed up but as it is, this isn’t my laptop and so I’ve been trying to deal with a shitty (albeit working) computer. That story will come in a second.

I haven’t written here in so long. I became unbelievably busy by the end of the semester. I was running around trying to see everyone and do everything I possibly could before my time ran out. I knew this was going to happen- I’d make a huge list of things to do (as I have a liking to do) and since I didn’t try to do some of them weeks ago, I would run out of time.

In any event, I said all my goodbyes. They weren’t sad, I knew that I would see the people I cared to see in a matter of time. After three sleep deprived days, I boarded the Alterini bus that would take me to depart from the city I first arrived in, in January.

We left for the bus at 10PM Friday, May 13th 2011. We departed at precisely 11PM. Around 1:45AM, we arrived at the Roman Fiumicino aeroporto. I can’t describe the pure irritation I had at the fact that we had to get there SO early when my flight wasn’t taking off until noon. But we dealt with it.

The shuttles to the international terminal didn’t run until 6AM, so I slept on the floor (with a break of an episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway? on my laptop) until then. We shuttled over to terminal 3 which was really a warehouse with guys holding machine guns. And there we sat on the floor until 8AM. I departed from Kat and Haven, saying a partial goodbye because we weren’t sure if we’d meet each other on the other side at the gates. As it would turn out, that’d be the last time.

After we checked in, I went through security. Worried about my photo paper that I was desperately trying to take home, I threw all of my things into 4 separate bins. One for my boots and jacket, one for my bookbag, one for my messenger bag, and one for my laptop. I tried to explain to them why they couldn’t put it through the x-ray, and they understood because they’d done this before. They were kind about it. I stood there and waited for them to hand check it, and when it was over, I put my shoes and jacket on as I talked to them, and grabbed my messenger bag at the end of the belt. I almost walked off without my bookbag, and at the last second remembered and went to grab it right as it was coming out of the belt.

I sat at the gate until almost noon. I talked to Kara and Mallory until they had to go to their gate, and hugged them goodbye. I was pretty bummed I hadn’t hung out with Mallory more.

The flight would be a total of 10 hours. It wasn’t a big deal considering the bus trip to Croatia.

About 6 hours in, I grew bored. The windows were all closed, Liz was asleep next to me, and the lights were dimmed. The movie choices were a bit boring. So I reached for my laptop.

That wasn’t there.

What ensued was literally a whole hour of uncontrollable crying, nausea that nearly ended in vomit in my hands, and hand tremors. I have never felt that sick or upset in my entire life. Literally.

I continued crying for the four hours and it slowed down when I tried to occupy myself with in-flight movies and shows, but I would break out in crying every so often. I never cry audibly in public but this time was definitely an exception to the rule.

Add in my sleep deprivation- you’ve got an unstable girl. I had just had a conversation with Kat a few weeks ago about how I never cry anymore. But again- exceptions. There was nothing I could do for 4 hours.

This chunk of metal was worth $2000 of my life, more than everything I have combined, I’m sure.
Long story short, I went through several people who basically told me there wasn’t anything they could do except give me the number of FCO’s Lost and Found.

I landed in Philly, frustrated beyond belief. I was so close to home but I wasn’t home yet. I slept on the 20 minute flight from Philly to BWI to keep myself from going more insane. And when I landed, I waited another hour and some until my parents got to the airport. As I sat there, I started crying again. I wanted to fly the 10 hours back to get to my laptop. And then when my parents walked up, I burst into tears. My parents never see me cry. They haven’t seen me cry since probably about middle school.

After two days and countless phone calls (some that ended in no response or a hang-up), I learned that it was still there and wasn’t blown up.

I’ve been so unbelievably stressed out about it that it’s been throwing my balance completely off.

On the bright side, I had the best welcome home. I’ve told a lot of people this; it’s not like I didn’t expect people to miss me because well, I HAVE friends. But I’m surprised by how much people missed me. Even though it didn’t happen, I was touched that Allison and Alex tried to throw a surprise party for me haha even though some people backed out and it died. Oh well. It would have been nice. I’ve always wanted a surprise party which is part of why I like throwing them hahah.

Anyways, I came home and Alex was the first on the scene. :) 15 years of friendship, who else could I expect? I almost cried when I hugged her. She hung out with me that night until I almost fell asleep. I got ready for bed and laid on the couch until I got a phonecall… the guys were trying to get me to come to their after-prom. I had to.

I jumped in the car and gave Mikey a huge hug and gave Scott and Seong their hugs when we got out. It was great to see everyone that night. I had missed them so much, and Kelsey picked me up when she saw me. Eventually I would come to see Ronnie also.

Wednesday, I came into the studio. I parked at Donnybrook- my old stomping grounds. It took about 20 minutes to walk from there to the library (which was so much faster now that I had spent 4 months walking the length of a city every day), where I met my sister and almost cried hugging her. We spoke only for a few minutes but then we left.

I walked to the CFA. It felt so odd walking around, I felt like a stranger but then I felt like I knew everyone at the same time. I ran into Lois and Hannah and talked to them- the people I met when it all started in Jewelry 1. 2 years ago. Impossible.

I hung by the displays outside of 2017 waiting for the Casting crit to finish when I heard “OH. EM. GEE. LOOK WHOSE BACK.” And I turned around to of course, Damon. :) We ran to each other and he picked me up with a hug and we chit-chattered about everything. Probably one of my favorite welcomes.

And Anna’s. She walked out of the door (WITH SHORT HAIR) and almost jumped me to the ground! She just kept saying how much she missed me with a lot of “OH MY GOD’s” and with the door half cracked, Lindsay Fortier inside gasped and said “CATHERINE!” And the rest of the classroom sounded with “what?”s and stirring. But Anna shut the door and said “NOT NOW!” and took off for her next final, but not without another hug.

Minutes later, the rest of them filed out and all gave me hugs. Kelsey was in her studio sweats, apparently, and carrying her work as we gave each other a hug. Seeing Dirty Kelsey/Kelsey in sweats made me laugh because it just reminded me of what I missed. bahhh it was so great to see everyone. But I was still searching for Amy. And I turned around to see her- I just remember running up to her and jumping into her arms.

I was home.

I talked to Tai after he walked out and man I missed my sass-a-frass. I missed EVERYONE. The only person I didn’t get to see was Jan, and it would have been nice to see Savanna, Drew, and Parang to congratulate them on graduating.

I hung in Amy’s Space and with Jieun for awhile before I headed home and stopped to hang with Meg for a bit, and Matt Taylor, who I had blown off like every day to be in the studio. And to my relief, he didn’t hate me :)

At 8, Ashley came to pick me up (THANK YOU!) and took me to dinner at Anna, Denise, and Margo’s. It was just a blur of happiness and crazy excitement. That’s really all I can say to describe it. We caught up on the semester, or as much as you can in a couple of hours, with wine and GREAT food compliments of Kelsey. And literally within minutes I also became good friends with Ashley.

I went home thanking almost wondering why I ever left (but not forgetting why and how great it was that I did).

Then the next day at work, about an hour in, I picked up the ringing phone with a “Hello, thank you for calling T&K Salon, this is Catherine. How can I help you?” and got a “Catherine? DAMNIT.” It was Jodi. Minutes later, she came running in with Mia (her daughter) and had a huge banner put up that said “WELCOME BACK BABY CATHERINE.”
The third time I was almost in tears.

The rest of my weekend working was a mess of “BABY CATHERINE!” and old ladies saying “OH DEAR/THANK GOD YOU’RE BACK!!” And a total of $120ish in tips. WHOAHOHOHO it felt good to be back.

I was slightly worried about having a home-culture shock but these welcomes made it SO easy. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. It just felt unbelievable to know that I was cared about by so many people and my god, if you ever wanna know how lucky or loved you are, just leave for a few months because when you come back, you’ll know the full force of it.

I had a welcome home that would make the gods jealous.

And now my summer has been full of living MY American dream.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Siena (Take 2) and So On.

Hey lovers.

Well we all loved Siena so much that we decided to go for round 2. It was hugely successful. I got my patch, I got Damon's gift, I got Anna's gift, I got Ricarelli cookies, and it was a sunny day (for the most part).

It took so much to find the city center- I took a picture of the googlemaps on my camera because we didn't want to buy one. The train station was all the way at the northern part of the city so we took a windy way down. Time consuming, but we saw a lot of sights.

A li'l lunchy-lunch.


While we sat there for our lunch, this couple was walking through, presumably to a church to get married, and they had someone take pictures for them. BEAUTIFUL.

A li'l dance.

And to get back...

This whole week, Johnna's family had come to visit. They were in Venice and other little towns in Italy while I spent the weekend with Kat and Haven. When they came back, they invited me out for dinner, which I VERY gratefully accepted.

And we went to Quattro Leoni! And I got my pear pasta :)

And pear cake. OH my GOSH it was so delicious. It was very warm, the top was crispy and the inside was moist and delicious, with chocolate on top.

A little kitchen experiment with candied kumquats. YUM

So this was something I got for Lindsey but since I wasn't sure if they would toss it or not at customs, I had to drink it.

I'm gonna miss Tomasso.

And Raimondo.

They're both ADORABLE.

So, on April 20th, the TRL awards for Italy came to Santa Croce. It almost seemed... blasphemous... having a huge concert literally on the steps of the church, with the bright lights coming out like it's suppose to be holy. Weirddd. It was cool just to go though. The Dragonettes were the only band I recognized.


Eats and Gardens.

Hey lovers.

Slowly but surely, I'm catching up.

Hope held a dinner party (literally the CUTEST dinner party) I've ever been to in my life. It was ADORABLE. We all had name settings and there were candles everywhere :)

Mexican food!! And plenty of wine.


It was SO great! Hope has a HUGE balcony that overlooks via dei Cimatori, with a view of a church out that back window there. Perfect.

At the end of the dinner, we all got to take home a vase of flowers. And by vase, I mean recycled wine bottle.

Just a lil somethin' somethin' from class. Salmon and bacon over a pear sauce.

A day or so later, Kat, Haven, and I walked around exploring, trying to find a particular garden (that we never ended up finding).

An Italian art school.

We ended up in the Boboli Gardens during their free week. Everything was free that week- that is, entry to the government funded/run places like museums and gardens.


And for dinner... yet another amazing meal at The Diner. Well-deserved, after having saved up so much money and restraining from eating out so often.

G'd evening.


Dub-win, Ireland: Part 2

Hey lovers.

Another early morning.
That morning, I was pretty much in pain from having to leave.

Looking out from the balcony reminded me EXACTLY of being on Drew's balcony the night of the Sky Loft gallery opening mid-December last year.

It felt like FOREVER ago.

I woke up early to get ready for our last day in Ireland. I snuck past an Irishman of rugby-playing build who was probably sleeping off a night of drinking and unlocked the door to the balcony. I gently pulled the door shut behind me.

I was only wearing my socks; the painted concrete beneath my feet was only slightly chilly. I walked to the edge and breathed in the 9AM Irish air. I heard something shuffle about behind me, so I turned to see our Irish buddy taking a sip from his water bottle. The door had opened up; I was confused. I guessed that the door wouldn't shut without turning the key.

In any event, I returned my attention to the rooftops and chimney tops of Ireland. (And by the way, I promise you, I will reiterate the fact that it was IRELAND for as many times as I can possibly bear it.) The sky was perfectly clear. Alright, maybe a cloud or two, but only just enough to offset the blue and remind you of how blue and perfect the rest of the scene was. Later, we'd be told time and again how lucky we got that the weather was so beautiful and clear- how it didn't rain a bit.

I started humming some line from "The Cave" by Mumford and Sons. Only appropriate enough. Then I stopped. I stopped to remember the sounds, sights, and smells I was experiencing. Most vividly, I remember the sounds. I closed my eyes and listened intently. I could hear first and foremost, the birds. Seagulls, to be exact. I keep forgetting that Dublin is nearly on the coast. They cawed in rhythm with loud clinking of the glasses that were more than likely coming from a bar cleaning up the night before. For awhile, it was CLINK... CAW-CLINK... CAW-CLINK... and so on, until the CLINK concluded. Machinery hummed and cars could be heard. I was home.

We made our way to the Guinness Store house.

Toasted barley.

You can't see it, but the guy made a little shamrock :)

They might have brainwashed me, but I have to declare that Guinness is now my drink of choice.

River Liffey. So Inner Harbor-ish.

THE COLORS! I'm even more in love.

The streets... There is a ridiculous amount of Irish influence in Baltimore. High Street, Townsend Street, Fleet Street (street I stayed on and a main street in Baltimore), Hannover, etc...) and the actual streets themselves looked so much like Fells Point. It was almost eerie. But beautiful.

Christ Church, I believe?

And then St. Patrick's Park. BEAUTIFUL, of course.

Some youngun's playing rugby/soccer?

I looked at this as a small preview. I pretty much fell tragically in love within less than 24 hours, and came to the conclusion that I'm living here.

I'd never forgive myself if I didn't come back.