Monday, 13 June 2011
120 in my 20s: seventy-three
For a while now, I've had a new tab at the top of my blog - 120 in my 20s. Many of you have even asked about it, but I've kept relatively quiet as to what it is and why it's there - in all honesty, I felt a bit embarrassed about it.
One day, a little disillusioned with my life for a variety of reasons and wondering where (if anywhere) it was going, my 21 year old self decided to make a bucket list of 120 things I really wanted to accomplish. I tapped them out really quickly, sitting in my room on my laptop, and was surprised that I could find 120 things just off the top of my head that I really, really wanted to do.
Some are physical experiences - attend a Wimbledon finals tennis match; make a dress; see a Matthew Bourne ballet; move back to Brighton. Some are educational - learn French enough to converse with a French person; learn to play the piano so that I can play Einaudi's Andare; get another qualification. Some are silly, small things - stargaze; walk hand-in-hand along a beach with someone, barefoot, at sunset; fly a kite. A great deal are food or travel related - do a Buddhist meditation in a Buddhist country; go to Berlin and touch the Berlin Wall; buy chocolates from a chocolatier in France.
And some are personal, spiritual, and meaningful to me - write a letter to myself and seal it, to open on my 30th birthday; find love again; learn to like myself and accept what has happened to me in the past.
Presented as I was with a mix of things written hurriedly and without any real thought as a page on this blog, I decided to publish the page but do nothing about it for a while. I kept checking it sometimes, usually when life got busy, and would be reminded of the amazing things I wanted to do but hadn't got round to; was too busy for.
And so I decided: it was time to start crossing things off the list. And, as an extra challenge, and ambitious as I am, I decided: I'd do all these things in my 20s.
And so here I am, a few weeks away from my 22nd birthday, and pleased to say that I've accomplished a few things on the list already, in no particular order. And so here is the first, of what I hope will be many, blog posts about my 120 in my 20s project.
SEVENTY THREE: VISIT THE COLOSSEUM IN ROME
When one of my closest friends suggested a long weekend in Rome, I immediately jumped at the chance. As a big fan of Roman history, the capital of Italy was somewhere I'd always longed to go to - and, in particular, I wanted to visit the Colosseum.
Why is a visit to the Colosseum on my bucket list, and not the Vatican, Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain or any one of Rome's other staggeringly impressive sites? Because, I suppose, the Colosseum is such an iconic landmark of the city: to take photos of the Colosseum, to wander around the outside and gaze all the way up the sides and to stand inside and look over the vast expanse of the stadium and imagine all the people inside - that really represents Rome and all the history and myths and tales associated with it that no other landmark does in quite the same way.
Visiting the Colosseum was on my 120s in my 20s list, and was a very special one for me; and this is why. The first day I arrived in Rome, I was on my own; my friends were joining me later that evening, but I'd got an early flight out of London and had the day to explore the city on my own. I left my bags at the hotel and, at about midday on this particular day in February, I walked from my hotel, over some squares and towards the Colosseum. I felt like an explorer, like someone discovering something amazing for the first time - alone and intrigued and determined in this city. The building came into sight as I walked past the ancient Roman fora on both sides of me, and I instinctively sped up my pace as I rushed towards it. There was some kind of draw to the Colosseum, which I can't explain - perhaps I never will be able to.
I didn't pay to go in, that first day; I went inside the Colosseum with my friends the day after. Instead, I sat outside the Colosseum and stared up at it, memorising every line and curve and crevice in my mind and trying to take snapshots of it in my head, so that it would never fade.
I can't describe how or why I'd exactly wanted to visit the Colosseum all my life; I can't describe how, aside from it being an amazing building, it had somewhat more of a strong pull for me. I also can't describe how I found that sitting outside it on my own that day, for what I was surprised to find had been hours, was somehow profoundly moving.
What I do know, though, is that visiting the Colosseum - a lifetime goal for me - was the first of my one hundred and twenty goals that I ticked off the list. And one experience that I will never forget.