​On Lana del Rey, a Night in Milan and Kindness

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Me wearing my flower crown at a Lana del Rey concert in The Woodlands, TX  May 2015. Flower  Crown; Nordstrom

It may be a bit cliche but I am a Lana Del Rey fan. I will follow that statement with the even more cliched “she just gets me.”

Although when I think about that idea though I realize that the phrase “I just get her” may be more accurate. I find myself humming along to her songs and I can relate, even if not directly I can understand what she is trying to express and it speaks to me. I suppose that is what art is really but I digress. I’ve seen Lana twice in concert. And yes I wore a flower crown. Judge me, people!

 Today I find myself thinking about a moment in time where a simple phrase, not even from a proper song but from a music video of hers got me through a tough moment. The phrase was from the video for her song “Ride”. If You haven’t watched it I highly recommend it although I warn you that it is at times a provocative, profane and slightly troubling video. The line doesn’t come until 9:08 so you have to wait for it.

The phrase though is thisI believe in the kindness of strangers 

I am a natural introvert so this phrase never really stuck out to me until one night when I found myself far from home, and all alone, in a bad situation I hadn’t anticipated and suddenly I was forced to rely on the kindness of strangers. 

The story begins in Budapest.

I was studying abroad, in Verona, Italy as the only freshman on the program. On the weekends we were allowed to travel around Europe on our own. I was invited to go with a group to Budapest and while I wanted to go I hesitated in buying my plane ticket. By the time I did I found that the flight my friends were on had doubled in price so I chose to take a flight later that day.

That day I spent a glorious morning and early afternoon exploring Budapest more on my own. Then I headed to the airport and was off to Frankfurt to catch my connection. Unfortunately, though the flight was delayed and I made it to Frankfurt with only moments to spare. My brief moments in Frankfurt were spent in an all-out sprint to catch my connection.

I made it but when I landed in Milan, I discovered my bag hadn’t. I was directed to a Lufthansa help desk with a line about 30 people long. It should be noted here that I do not speak Italian and it was about 11 PM at this point.

The last train to Milan Central and then the last train to Verona were leaving in a few short minutes but I know I can’t abandon my bag. So I stood in the line absolutely panicking, swapping stories with a well-traveled Italian who spoke English about whether the US or Europe had worse customer service in air travel. I believe we deemed it a tie.

I continued to panic while he began speaking to two Italian women behind him in the line who also happened to be going to Verona. These women turned out to be my saviors. Having missed the last train I started talking with them and together we decided to rent a car together and drive to Verona from Milan, about a two-hour drive.

I felt scared as this seemed like a risky and idiotic thing to do but I also felt I had no choice so I went with it. Getting into the car I remembered the line “I believe in the kindness of strangers and began silently repeating it to myself over and over.

One of the young women spoke English better than the other so I mostly talked to her about a wide range of topics from their trip to Russia, and the vodka they purchased there, to the car rental business she ran and the ski cabin she owned.

I slowly felt my fear evaporating over those moments in the car and I began to accept Lana’s mantra in a way I never expected. Eventually, they dropped me off in front of the apartment building my college was living in. It was around three in the morning and I got to face hell from my parents, roommates, professors, and friends over how panicked I made them. Their reaction to the situation put into stark relief the true amount of risk I took. I didn’t feel that way in the car though. I didn’t feel that way as I learned a little piece of these strangers life stories, and as we helped each other get where we needed to be.

They rescued me, and while I know it could have turned out differently I have found it proven time and again that people as a whole are mostly good and sometimes you might have to count on them to rescue you from a bad situation you put yourself into. I will be eternally grateful for those two women, Claudia and Sara and for all the kind strangers I have met and will meet along the way.

XO

Paige

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Harvey Update

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A nicer day in Southeast Texas, when the water was where it is supposed to be  Location: George Mitchell Nature Preserve December 2016

For those of you who don’t know I live in a suburb north of Houston, Texas. My house is fine and my family is safe, but so many around the Houston area have lost everything.

The day before the storm hit I was able to fly out of Houston to Los Angeles. It was a trip I had planned before the hurricane. One of my best friends recently moved here, after graduating from The University of Georgia. I am getting to stay with him on a not that uncomfortable couch.

Los Angeles is beautiful and I have been having a lot of fun here. Unfortunately, the scenes coming out of my hometown have made it a little bit difficult to stay in the moment and fully enjoy this vacation. I have been writing and taking lots of pictures for the blog while I am here. To post them now though would be quite tone deaf and just feel wrong. I will post about this trip, but not right now.

One of the most distressing videos for me personally was a video of MD Anderson Cancer Center flooding. Part of my treatment was at MD Anderson and they have saved countless lives. The inpatients there and at many other Houston hospitals are being taken care of by the doctors and nurses that have been staying at the hospital round the clock. The entire area around the Texas Medical Center is reported to be impassable. This is the biggest medical center in the world and thousands of people count on these world renowned hospitals for life-saving care.

Here is a link to an article with videos of the flooding in MD Anderson.

http://www.katc.com/story/36227195/md-anderson-cancer-locations-closed-for-outpatient-services

Also here is a video of the amazing work Texas Children’s Hospital is doing in the face of this storm.

Right now all I can really do is pray for Houston and the entire Texas coast. I wish I could be there today to do something, although I know that I will have plenty of opportunity to volunteer once the storm clears. Many of my friends have been expressing feelings of helplessness and frustration. I feel the same way.  It is important to remember though, that the most important thing right now is staying safe. Don’t let your desire to help cause you to make dangerous decisions, and create more crises for the already heavily burdened emergency service workers. Safety should be your number one priority. When the storm ends, and it will eventually end, there will be plenty of work to do.

For now, I ask that everyone pray for the city of Houston, the Texas Medical Center, and everyone impacted by this disaster. Texas and Houston are strong. We will rebuild, but the efforts will take everyone working together. That’s shouldn’t be a problem for Texans though

Stay safe and Texas Forever,

Paige