A few days ago I got the best haircut of my life. I’ve been seeing this hair stylist for years, and he keeps stepping it up. He just got back from his three-week honeymoon overseas, spent the next week sick and overworking himself, and then proceeded to give my the best damn haircut of my life. I admire the guy, what can I say.
But the best part of the experience was hearing about his trip. I love travel, and he’d just returned from my two favorite places on this earth: Greece and Italy.
Greco-Roman history and mythology have been my jam since I learned to read. When I was 16, my family had the opportunity to explore Greece for two weeks. It was literally a dream come true. I was a teenager and I remember thinking, “If I die today, at least I got to see Greece.” I was pretty melodramatic back then. But it was still true.
We would visit these ancient ruins, and I would walk up these crumbling pillars and try to imagine them in their original majesty. I’d place my hand on weathered stone and think of all the people in all of history that had touched this very same spot. I’d pretend that I could watch time in reverse at triple-speed, like rewinding an old VHS, as temples and shrines were built and rebuilt, as millions of people would speed by with blurred faces, as the landscape would only minutely shift around these ever-present landmarks of Western history.
I’m still a bit melodramatic.
I spent a month in Italy as part of a college study abroad program. I had the time of life with my best friends, in my other fantasy vacation spot. At 21 I thought, “If I die today, at least I will have seen Greece and Italy.” I went inside the Colosseum, where an innumerable amount of nameless victims met their death. I explored the Forum at sunset after a light rain, so it felt like some lost fantasy realm out of Tolkien’s imagination. I witnessed the charred remains of Pompeii and stood at the edge of Vesuvius’ ever-smoking crater. I stood in awe of the Holy See, and heard the Pope and his assistants address the crowd in multiple languages. I ate a truly impressive amount of Gelato. I got lost on my way back to my hostel in Florence at one o’clock in the morning. Good times.
I’ve had many conversations with my hair stylist, but none that lit me up so much. He gushed about our similar experiences and also how our trips differed. He visited areas of Greece that I hadn’t, he went off-roading on ATVs to find secluded beaches, he had the time of his life with his beautiful new wife. He got to see a show in a thousand-year-old amphitheater in Sicily. He got to see my favorite places in the world. I got to see my favorite places in the world.
If I die today, at least I’ve fulfilled that dream.