How Luxembourg Taught Me to Listen To Myself

you know how school used to be fun?

Before math moved too fast for us, and before we were supposed to absorb information without understanding how to apply it in real life, life was fairly straight-forward for me. I went to school, worked on my art, wrote stories, and did the math that made sense (I want twice as much candy as I have now, thanks).

That’s when I learned about Luxembourg. I’m not sure what grade I was in, but I know I was young when I was told to pick a country to report on. And, for whatever reason, I decided Luxembourg would be that country. It sounded very green and I can still visualize the cover art I made for my binder of all things Luxembourg. It was green, leafy, and included a drawing of a deer on it. I was uninterested in wine, but thought that seeing the vineyards would still be cool.

then I grew up

Just like that. I finished high school, went to college, got a job, then went to grad school. My life never moved in a straight line like I thought it would (thanks, 2008) but now I realize it was a good thing. I would have been happy to be a company girl, saving up my PTO for a few precious weeks of vacation every year.

Thankfully, along my way of looking for the perfect job, I kept traveling. And exploring new places became a bigger part of my life.

I got lucky

A few years ago, my boyfriend and I were planning a trip to Europe. “Two weeks, maybe,” is what we started with. Then, that two week trip turned into four months. And I’ll get into all of that eventually, because it was a lot. But, suddenly, I went from never having been to Europe to whittling down the places we could possibly fit into our trip. And that was hard. There’s something so delicious about picking a place to go. But, at the same time, there’s a sadness of knowing you’re crossing another place off the list (even if it’s just for now).

So some places got moved to the future, and I got to be in Luxembourg for my birthday.

full circle

We rented a car and drove down from The Netherlands, down through Belgium and past the little frite stands on the side of the road. And when we got into Luxembourg, I was just like a little kid again, whirling my head around. I was surprised at how little I actually remembered from my little elementary-school report on Luxembourg, and it’s probably better that way. The three languages they speak probably would have scared us off.

the longer you wait, the more pressure there is

After a long time of dreaming, you can build up a place in your head. No matter how amazing it is, it will never live up to that hype. Luxembourg definitely didn’t live up to that hype for me. I had one of the worst allergic reactions I’ve ever had, and we drove for hours through little towns through snaking roads in the dark, trying to find a 24-hour pharmacy. I’m not going to pretend it was all magic: no place is.

But, Luxembourg is gorgeous, and the city has one of my favorite plans I’ve ever been in. If anything, visiting a place I’d kept in my mind for years was magic: like turning a page of a book and disappearing into the page.