I have been home for three days and have yet to find the right words to explain CR. As I read back through my journal, the word beautiful is written all over it.
I feel like my words don’t do it justice. My words can’t capture the breathtaking feeling looking out over the Swiss Alps from the top of Europe, or the laughs shared by everyone when Jake Lynn wouldn’t move from the path of Russell Crowe’s car after being yelled at in three different languages. My words can’t capture the feeling of skydiving, or the chaos of the trains, or how hard my head hit the pillow each night. My words can’t fully explain how much each of these people mean to me.
I have used pictures and videos to explain. They have the laughter of the group, the background noises of the cities, and the scenery of each place. However, my video of the first night in Florence will never recreate the exact feeling that I had. We were floating down the Arno River in a gondola, eating fruit, and laughing. The sun was setting, and the lights were sparkling on the river. This was a beautiful introduction to Florence. We were the only ones on the river, and this moment was pristine. It was beautiful.
Beauty took many different forms throughout the past three and a half weeks. I saw beauty in Germany. Their remembrance of their dark, complicated history is beautiful. I first saw the beauty in the Memorial for the Murdered Jews. It was beautiful how the people came together after the Holocaust to remember the people who were senselessly murdered, and give a voice to prevent anything of this nature to occur ever again. I also saw beauty in the people who stood up for the injustice. In Bayern Munchen, the soccer team who refused to align with the Nazis because there were Jews on their team. Also, in Otto Weidt who employed blind and deaf Jews and saved hundreds of lives.
Seeing the beauty in Interlaken was easy. The moment the train turned the corner to overlook the scenery of Interlaken, I decided that was what heaven might look like. The sparkling, blue lakes surrounded by fresh green grass with the Swiss Alps touching the sky behind them. It was beautiful to see people overcome their fear of heights, to sing together in the bus, to celebrate together after we touched the ground. It was beautiful to rest and soak in the scenery.
In Riomaggiore, we saw beauty in the simplicity of life. In every day routines by locals, small shops, and long dinners. We saw beauty in the bright colors that dotted the mountainside, and the small alleys winding down to the sea. I saw beauty in the expanse of the sea stretching as far as the eye could see, and in the water splashing against the rocks. I saw beauty at the top of the mountain, and within the conversations during the climb. There was beauty in gelato, in laughs, in the youth in Asia, and even in the crowded hostel.
Florence brought beauty in many forms. In art: the David, Birth of Venus, the Duomo, and in street artists who played for us in the Uffitzi courtyard each night. In the gondola ride the first night that I could relive over and over again. We also saw beauty in long dinners full of belly-aching laughter, carousels, and mine and Olivia Chambers’ duet with a random couple. However, the real beauty in Florence was Ryal Reddick’s dinner attire, due to which he became known as scarf boy.
In Rome, we saw beauty in the Trevi Fountain as we attempted to be Lizzie McGuire, the Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica and the incredible history behind each place. Also, we saw lots of beauty in Giolitti’s each night, and I’m sure Jacob James saw the beauty of success in eating 25 scoops of gelato to break Matt Williams’ record. Rome also held bittersweet emotional beauty. Each day was exciting in the discoveries that it held, but brought the impending end to CR even closer. I saw beauty in my streaming tears while CR members stood up and celebrated each other with awards, in Dr. P’s last speech affirming each of us, and in the all nighter that some of us pulled before waking up to a 12 hour flight home. I was able to see the beauty in each person’s heart throughout the past three and a half weeks and love them better.
CR – thank you for showing me that there is beauty in everything, and in everyone. I will never be able to fully explain this beauty in words, but I think that is what makes it beautiful.