I feel more like a guest in the home of Gracia and John than a wwoofer. I remember meeting another wwoofer in Portugal who said that the quality of food you receive as a wwoofer is evidence of how much you are appreciated and respected, because food is your payment. I can say now James, that I agree. I don't mean quality as in expensive, but quality time put into preparation and cooking and making sure that everyone is happy... Cat, my old softball teammate who is Italian, told me that food is happiness and love... and in the Italian culture it is. Grazia would literally give you the shirt from her back. Working has been pleasant... except for my mishaps in the kitchen yesterday, which include, cat eaten desserts, my seriously overcooking HAMBURGERS (how hard are hamburgers, christ!) for lunch, heating up pesto (apparently thats a no no), spilling cake batter in the oven, on the floor, everywhere, almost baking a metal spoon in the cake, and most notably using a 50 euro block of cheese for some meat rolls, which was not only expensive but due to be sent out to John's brother in Norway... So, you see, I'm causing some destruction, but hopefully more laughs than "what the fucks".
My head has been elsewhere. I've been thinking about my acceptance to the doctorate programs in the states and if I want to go, the updated essays I have to write and send by early January... I've been thinking about this trip and how I thought I'd come back a new person nearly who knows what she wants to be when she grows up and have the motivation to do it and I've been thinking about how I want to stay here, traveling Europe, feeling the freedom that is a long train, a dark bus, a walk through a city on a nice day, but I've been thinking about my family. My beautiful little brother whom I want to get home to to see his big smile and the signs that mean "more song.." I've been thinking about my mom and papa, where my biggest decision involves helping papa chop wood or going for a walk with mom, either way their both happy... I miss mom's loud footsteps in the morning and the way she slams every door cupboard, microwave, etc. just because it's her way... I even miss Papa's bad jokes...I miss my big sister's dirty mouth and how she'll do anything for you if you need her too (just make sure to say thank you) and also how she knows me better than anyone else... she is the only one who grew up along side me in some of the most difficult situations (we'll call them the darkside of Belfast)... I miss my little sister incredibly, we've made some of the best memories of my life, most notably, hiking in the summer, running trails, sprained ankles and having picnics on mountain tops... I miss Erin and Nick (my bestest friends) whom I can tell anything too and somehow they still think I'm sane... I miss my old apartment on Spring street and its current tenant Christian.
All these things make my head a bit foggy... I've loved Europe and traveling, the many friends I've met, the constant learning, the being on your toes, the good times, the bad, seeing society from lots of different angles and from many perspectives... the independence it brings. But the saying holds true, "where ever you go, there you are." I'm still the same Melissa, although, I like to be called "Mel" and the word "lovely" is now apart of my everyday vocabulary. Traveling has shown me a lot, I haven't seen all there is to see or learned all there is to learn but I've seen a slice of the world through a slice of pizza in Rome or a pig foot stew in Portugal... I've seen a slice of the life of a traveler and gained more insight in many realms, the inside and the out ... that both made me optimistic and not for the future and its decisions. Its made me realize that if something doesn't fit in your life, be it clothing, friends, or a job, there's more out there waiting to be found... ditch it, move on... explore.
I've been thinking about preparing for home... the main question on everyone's mind... "Melissa, was it worth it?" Was it worth leaving your great job at the hospital, your stability, selling your car, your clothes, your furniture, your everything, was it worth coming home with $500 from the $6,000 you sold and saved... was it worth it for Europe? My answer is unclear, I want to shout a resounding YES! Of COURSE, because of course I want this trip to have been the answer! But somehow it didn't live up to my expectations... perhaps if I had had more time to think and write rather than work and work, maybe it would have... but I don't think so. I think my expectations were too high... I'm not a new, more clear, more decisive person full of happiness and clarity. I'm Melissa, but a Melissa who knows there's a bigger world out there and who's seen a slice of it. The exploration has to continue, but a flight won't take me there. [ Two weeks later after writing this- I want to make an addition after a bit more clarity.] So, here goes, this trip was worth it and I'll tell you why. I learned that friends are important and so is doing what you love. I learned that if I like to mismatch, it's ok and if I feel lonely sometimes, that's ok too, because in the end, life is about putting yourself out there and those that love you for who you are, are people who you should surround yourself with. I will no longer use anyone else as a scratching post for my insecurities- because since traveling alone I've developed a bigger and stronger inside voice... she's kinda smart, and she has answers. Anyway, I know that's unclear but I have to keep the details for my book. :)