Teenagers never appreciate the opportunities they are given; at least not in the present -tense. I would like to believe that I was an exception to this, but looking back at certain things I know that is not the case. I firmly appreciate and am thankful for many of the experiences I had in the past and all of the experiences I will have in the future.
Growing up my family didn’t exactly have the normal family vacation experiences. We didn’t have a lake house we visited once a year. There were not many roller coasters, amusement parks, or just sitting at home playing video games. Nope, the Spera family always had a rather eccentric way of doing the annual family vacation. I am talking Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia for two whole weeks or St Augustine for a week once a year. I am talking museums, civil war reenactments, historical sites, and many -at the time- boring and long days learning how bricks we made in the 1700s.
Like I said, many, many of my past family adventures have gone unappreciated up until I reached adulthood. To this day I don’t consider a trip a success unless I gain some historical or cultural knowledge. Museums are my jam now!
One such place I had the opportunity of visiting at a young age was none other than The Louvre in Paris. Even at seventeen years old I was beyond excited to explore one of the most historic art museums in the world. However, the story I am about to tell you won’t exactly support that narrative.
It was the summer before senior year, and I was going on my very first “solo” trip to Europe. (The start of many). This was my first time having to travel overseas on a 10-hour flight and I am known to never be able to rest while traveling. By the time we landed in France, I had been awake for 36 hours straight, had not eaten in the past 10 hours, and was still wearing the same clothes I wore to the airport when I left Florida. Yes, this is all very important information.
It was safe to say that I was exhausted, hungry, and smelled like stale body odor and all that was on my mind was a shower and a nap. Unfortunately for me, that was not in the cards for me that day. Like I said, this was basically a “school/educational” trip, which means when I landed at 7am in Paris, it was “school hours”. There was no stop to the hotel, and we hit the floor running into our sightseeing tour. None of us were allowed to change into clean clothes until LATER THAT NIGHT. I wore the same pair of underwear for almost two days straight. To this day it disgusts me just thinking about it.
I wasn’t prepared for the day I was about to have. On top of the exhaustion and unsanitary state I was in, I was also hungry. Before we began our tour we finally got something to eat at the food court. I got my food- I remember this! I got chicken with potatoes with vegetables- I put it on the table and left to go grab another chair but when I came back…. Someone “accidentally” pushed my food off the table. My whole tray. Chicken, potatoes, and all. Apparently “no one saw who did this” and no one owned up to it, which just added to the hangry meltdown that ensued.
To this day I’m mad about the food and that with a table of at least 8 people, no one owned up to it. almost ten years later I still think about it to this day. Lucky for me two awesome girls, who are still my favorite travel buddies to this day, kept me from going full hulk smash on everyone and helped me get some food in me. And I cried in the bathroom and a McDonald’s employee gave me a macaroon. Bless the magic macaroon lady from the Louvre food court.
From Europe 2014 to Texas 2021, our friendship is still going strong!
After that, all happened- yes STILL in the same clothes – we finally got to tour the halls and exhibits of the Louvre. I got manhandled by other international tourists when trying to get a photo of the Mona Lisa, Got swindled by a postcard salesman, and had a French bicyclist expose himself to me and a group of other teenagers was with.
Unfortunately, with the events of that day, I couldn’t give my full appreciation to the Louvre that it deserves. I don’t have a clear memory of it; either from the lack of sleep or just the negative cloud that covered me the entire day. The memories I do have don’t give the place justice. The first thing I think about when I look back on that day is everything that went wrong and how things should have gone differently. This bucket list item is technically crossed off but still doesn’t feel like its complete. I was physically there, but not really present.
The thing about a bucket list is that the goal is to do things you have always wanted to do.