Eyes. Smile. Hands. Knee cap. Foot callus. Weenus.

It is now the end, officially. Came back from Germany this afternoon and am holed up in a friend’s dorm room, double-checking my flight times, Paris metro times, and I’ve booked the hostel I’ll be at for tomorrow night.

I don’t know what to say, and I’m not ready to answer the question: “How was your time in France?”, even though it’s been somewhere in the back of my mind this entire semester. “How was it?”–the easiest question to ask, the hardest question to answer.

a) Good.

b) Bad.

c) Okay.

d) I dunno.

e) All of the above.

Yeah.

How are you supposed to say whether an entire 4 months of your life in a different country–all the thoughts that you had, every new experience, even that time you stepped in a puddle, was good, bad, okay? Words, pictures, the small film clip of your friend sleeping in the minibus, your friend’s family singing on Christmas, the view of Hamburg during a double-decker bus tour–showing these remembrances is the best one can do in order to recap such a time. Because it was everything.

e) All of the above.

The pictures one posts on facebook, Tumblr, blogs, romanticize the experience, shrouding, “my time in France,” in an untruthful, or partially-truthful way that does not do it justice. It lacks the meaty bits. It’s just the eyes, or the smile, or the hands, and it needs to exist in its entirety. The boring bits, like the kneecaps, unless you have a fetish for kneecaps, the sometimes unpleasant parts, like the callous on your foot serving as a hat to your bunion, the parts you just wonder about, like your weenus, and yes, the beautiful aspects, perhaps the eyes, the smile, or the hands.

This study abroad experience has not been without its low points. France was unable to hold me in a trance for the entire duration of my time here, but I am glad that it didn’t. I’m glad that France was a bit grittier than expected, a bit rougher at times. It wouldn’t have been so interesting had it not been.

A friend once told me that in high school, he was quite content overall but did not feel as much as he does now. Something like heartbreak drove him to feel in new ways, to explore his emotions. In intense moments of sadness, he told me that he smiles to himself. He gets a weird pleasure from experiencing something so intense. The highs are higher if they follow an extremely low low, and vice versa. They complement one another, and the two need to exist in order to exist, if that makes sense.

It’s getting late, and I should go to bed. I want to end on a positive note, though. I have a new carabiner now, and it is from Australia. My friend Sergio gave it to me, and he told me that he has had it for 7 or 8 years, and its really special to him. It still works, so I can use it, he told me, but I’m only borrowing it only until we see each other in Mexico. Then I’ll give it back to him. And I gave him mine–the first, and only carabiner I bought in a rock climbing store in Minneapolis when I decided that it would be cool to climb someday.

Good. Bad. I dunno. All of the above.

Eyes. Smile. Hands. Knee cap. Foot callus. Weenus.

IMG_1645

Love,

Matt

p.s. Listen to “The Devil’s Tears” by Angus and Julia Stone. It’s good.

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