I’m writing in my fluffy sea green sweater and plaid pyjama pants on the eve of my Milan trip. I should be packing. Instead, I’m fretting over the line where I had my roots dyed on Saturday, which is still vaguely visible across my forehead despite the fact that I scrubbed my scalp this morning. Hopefully, tomorrow morning’s 4.30 am shower will rinse the rest away.
People often comment how envious they are of a journalist’s glamorous life. I get it; I feel the same way. At least I used to, before press trips revealed themselves as 16-hour days on your feet, planning, preparing, interviewing, learning, assimilating, interacting, until you drop dead in your 5-star hotel room, too exhausted to enjoy the enormous bathtub you had been thinking about all day.
Those 5-star rooms? In French we say, “un cadeau empoisoné”, or poison in a gift box. For every night I spend in a place like that, I crank out an 800-word review complete with pictures. But the rub is that I’m not there to write about the hotel. I’m there to cover some other art event, in this case opera, so my days are jam-packed full of other things.
On Friday, plans fell through with my accommodation, plans that had been finalised months ago. No one being available in Italy on the weekends, I’ve spent two days writing emails and fretting like a homeless person. I leave tomorrow morning at 6 am. Yes, I can rent a smaller room on my own dime, but then if a 5-star comes along with an offer, I’d have to pay for the small room anyway. Journalists don’t often get travel cash from their magazine, so we rely on this kind of negotiation, especially in Europe, where things are less uptight and rigid than they are in the US, moral-wise.
Last night, I realised with sudden alarm that I may very well go to a performance at the most prestigious opera house in the world, only to spend the night in the train station.
It did occur to me that true adventure comes in having the courage to step beyond the known and accept what you find. I feel too old to do this, but I also feel too young not to.
So while tomorrow night I know where I’ll be sleeping, the nights after are still up in the air. I will go forth.
Send me warm vibes?