Rome: Day 11 & 12
(29.8.14 – 30.8.14)
Continuation from here.
“If you could be stranded in any part of the world, where would it be?”
I bet most people wouldn’t mind being stranded in Rome for a day or even a week. But being in Rome was an accident for us, a little splotch of surprise in our itinerary because we hadn’t even included it in there. Now before you scoff, “You kidding me? You went to Italy and you didn’t even think about dropping by Rome? That’s like going to France and not bothering to see Paris!”, we’d heard a lot of nasty rumors about Rome that made us cross it off our list of places to see.
Rumors like: “There really isn’t much to do or see in Rome – the whole city is severely overrated!”, “People in Rome are really racist against Asians” and “Too many gypsies loitering around, waiting for victims to pounce on.” Well the last rumor is actually a fact – there are plenty of gypsies who are experts in the stealthy art of pick-pocketing, so I’d advise hiding a money belt around your waist or even stuffing cash in your socks to avoid being robbed.
But yes, being on a really tight budget and all, Gloria and I thought we’d skip out on Rome and head straight to Florence after Sicily, but that didn’t go as planned and we ended up being in Rome by force – which actually turned out to be one of the highlights of my Italian adventure. I fell in love with it the very next day when we started exploring the streets of Rome for the first time. But first, the story of how we got stranded in Rome and how we narrowly escaped a rather sketchy situation involving an illegal cab driver.
Trapani: Day 10
Continuation from here.
Trapani was the day of pleasant surprises and sun-soaked beaches.
When we got up, breakfast was provided in the common room for all guests of the hostel. So we helped ourselves to croissants, toasts, cereal and juice over friendly conversations with other travelers from France and Germany. Before 10 a.m., we were headed out for the train station (Palermo Centrale) to locate the bus that would take us to Trapani. The whole point of making that trip was because we desperately longed to experience a nice Sicilian beach.
The beauty of Sicily is vested in its sandy beaches and startling blue waters, where the sun drenches its residents in a crisp brownish-gold hue. Everyone had a rich tan, like a nice brown roast that reflected the sunny nature of a warm Sicilian summer.
Did a photoshoot for Stefanie and Nathaniel the other weekend. In the past, most of my shoots have been scheduled in the evening because I was always chasing the evening glow. This time, we decided to shoot in the morning because the weather forecast predicted a heavy rain in the evening. So my boyfriend and I headed to KL Lake Gardens before sunrise on a Saturday morning to photograph this lovely couple.
Some years are so wild and electrifying that when they end, it feels like a great year has screeched to a halt – abrupt and dramatic. Well, 2016 was not like that. To me, it felt like a slow fade – dark vignettes rounding the edges of the brief film that was 2016 – all the memories becoming a hazy blur as I scrolled through the photos on my phone, realizing that I hadn’t even posted more than 70% of the pics in there. So many memories of where I was, what I did, and who I used to be.
2016 was a great year, but it was also a tough one. Similar to most years, there will always be amazing moments punctuated with a couple of depressing notes. So yes, there were rough days. But there were good moments too. Lots of them.
Today was a good day.
This afternoon, I finally treated my nails to a gel manicure in this sweet pastel hue that I’ve labeled as “yogurt mint” — a soft, milky green shade with subtle blue undertones that exuded serenity.
This might sound weird, but manicures spark creativity and inspiration within me. There’s just something about freshly lacquered nails that rekindles my love for writing. Maybe it’s the glimmer of hope on their glossy surfaces, or the buttery richness of the color that reminds me of cupcake frostings.
Ridiculous as it sounds, it’s true. Pretty nails make me want to keep typing.
Today, I learned to open up. I consider myself a very private person, so getting in touch with my raw emotions and stringing them into sentences has always been a real challenge because I’m much better penning them down than I am articulating them out loud.
For the longest time, I avoided total vulnerability with even my closest friends. I was actually embarrassed to unveil this other side of myself, and I didn’t want to unload such a heavy burden upon their shoulders. So I closed myself off, thinking that this was the best way to preserve my precious friendships — by shutting out my issues so they wouldn’t have to deal with my struggles, which weren’t theirs to carry. But in doing so, I was only shutting myself away from those who really cared about me.
So today, I allowed myself to be totally vulnerable when I revealed some of the things that have been bothering me over the past months and years. These things were so personal that I had to swallow the lump that was forming in my throat.
But I’m starting to see that there is healing in honesty.
Some things just weren’t easy to talk about, but when I finally did, I felt a quiet wave of relief washing over me and a huge weight being lifted off my chest. It’s comforting to know that I am blessed with wonderful friends in whom I can place my complete trust in. It’s comforting to know that they don’t mind sharing the struggles and the pain, because at the end of the day, friendships aren’t strengthened by building walls to enclose your burdens. True friendships are fortified when you learn to break down the barriers surrounding your heart, so you can split burdens together and discover the sweet serenity in transparency.
And I thank God for these amazing people whom I am incredibly privileged to have in my life.
“Without knowing and without wanting, we build walls. It happens quietly and slowly over time when we choose the things in life that do not command love and righteousness. It happens when we forget to spend time with God in solitude. Then one day, we struggle with loving our neighbors, we struggle with understanding what grace is in our lives. The collapse of a relationship is not when the heated arguments become overbearing, it’s when the silence sets in that we know a void has begun in our lives.
I must be reminded daily of the love of Jesus, I must remember who it was that first brought me from death to life. How shallow is my heart to think that I can go a minute without praise in my heart for the one who loves without end; How hollow is my soul to long for such temporary things, and not for the Father in whom all things are given.
May I have the right mindset to lean on Jesus, and may I have the understanding to fully accept His grace in my heart.” — T.B. LaBerge