When I was a senior in high school, the movie Kicking and Screaming was released. My best friend at the time and I went to see it at the Niantic Cinemas in Niantic, Connecticut. The movie, about a group of friends having graduated college and resisting becoming adults, became my most favorite movie of all time. Of the two DVDs I still own, this movie is one of them (the other, The Princess Bride, comes to a very close second as favoritest movie).
The movie did alright. It was Noah Baumbach’s writing and directorial debut. But, I could care less about how the movie did. For me, it was a view of my future. I had just been accepted to Concordia University, in Montreal, Quebec as a Creative Writing major. Me, a kid from a middle-middle-class family, having only visited Walt Disney World, now got to leave the country, write every day, all day and, at the end of it, travel to Prague to write.
Where did this idea come from?
Olivia d’Abo’s character, Jane, and her boyfriend Grover, are both writers in the film. But Jane, oh Jane, Jane is going to Prague to continue writing while Grover moves to Brooklyn. I fell in love with Jane. I wanted to be her. When the movie came out, I was in the running for “Class Writer” of my 465-person graduating high school class (of which I received that lovely title and is forever emblazoned underneath a most horrid picture in the high school yearbook).
Jane reflected who I wanted to become. A smart, sassy, talented, young woman who could sort of handle her liquor, unafraid to give hard feedback, aware of her own shortcomings (and pays people for listening to her bad stories!). And Jane was going to Prague. She was following a dream, a desire, a will to write the world from a different city.
I was almost there! I promised myself that I would find a graduate program in Prague for writing. I promised myself that I would write a novel there, amongst the coffee shops in the early morning light or sipping beer after beer in the waning hours of the night. As you might have already figured out, I never made it. After my failed university attempt and succumbing to life in dilapidated and impoverished southeastern Connecticut, I just sort of gave up on writing. Gave up on living too but that’s not what today’s post is about.
Sometime last year, my best friend and I decided to take a Europe trip. We’ve both never been across the pond, as they say. And, later this month, we’re hopping a plane for Copenhagen, then a train to Berlin, and then a train to Prague, where I will spend four lovely days drinking, sipping, and writing. I will write little sketches about the trip; write about my life, my hopes, my dreams, my regrets; write about seeing the Brandenburg Gate for the first time; perhaps even write about falling in love in the city I have longed to be a part of for twenty-two years (although, four days to meet and fall in love with a man may be asking too much; what do you think?).
The excitement that wells up in me every time I think about this trip is almost too much to bear. The novel I am currently working on takes place in the future, but I am using what happened in Germany after World War II, until the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, as an example of extreme regimes. It is fitting that we’ll get to see these sites, learn about the history, experience the atmosphere and then, then we head to Prague, and I get to write and sip and drink and fall in love (with the city; I’m not holding out hope for a boy to come along).
In addition to the Europe trip, I’m headed down to New York City next weekend to celebrate my oldest friend‘s fortieth birthday and his debut on Broadway in The Color Purple. Excited to meet a bunch of new people at this party, spend time with him in his element, and just get out of Boston. And then, in late May, I’m headed down to Washington, DC to run a marathon, again with my bestie. These trips are making me anxious for the days to rush through until I get to them. It’s been hard for me to sleep these past few nights.
So, here’s to fulfilling a dream, even if it doesn’t take the shape you thought it would. Here’s to stepping outside of my comfort zone. Here’s to being more than a dumb American (oh no, what if people assume that I voted for that ogre of a president?!). Here’s to learning more about our world, other cultures, and myself. I wonder if I will have changed when I get back?