I've been listening to the stories about the 20th anniversary of the LA Riots as an outsider because I wasn't here. I was on my second backpacking trip to Europe. But here's the odd/awkward thing: I sort of wish I had been here. Not that I wanted it to happen, but it's weird when everyone you know experiences something together on a massive scale and you didn't. (I got my chance to be part of the larger group in the 1994 earthquake...)
Instead, this was me in spring of 1992 (in Kilkenny, one of my favorite towns in Ireland):
I had been fortunate enough to backpack through Europe three years earlier after graduating from LMU. I went with Kelly, Katie, John, Dave and Vince. Kelly and Dave went on their own after we started in London. Vince, John, Katie and I had a great time. We got along so well for two months with only one tense time (in Tours, I believe). Couldn't have asked for a better traveling group. I liked it so much I wanted to go again, and this time went on my own. I saved up a bunch of money working on Alien 3 at Boss Film Studios, got my student ID card and Eurail pass and I was off. (Oh and the ubiquitous "Let's Go!" 1992 edition.)
When you travel alone you meet a lot of people, occasionally joining them on their next travel leg. I bounced around, making Paris my home base, taking trains here and there, visiting my pen pals in Germany, seeing the World Expo in Seville and meeting up with the Boss Film crew who was working in Cortina, Italy, on Cliffhanger. I spent the weekend there, climbed a mountain (as you do) and then met up with them again in Rome.
I really fell in love with Rome on this trip and it is still my favorite city to this day. I could go there any time, in a heartbeat. And it was in Rome that I found my best souvenir, one I still carry. My wallet. Just off the Trevi fountain is a leather store (I could take you there today if you like) and I found just the wallet I was looking for. Most waiters at cafes carry a money pouch that opens like an accordion and I wanted to find something similar and there it was:
It looked a bit spiffier 20 years ago, but it's aged so beautifully and I couldn't imagine using anything else even though the lining is giving way.
I went back to the same store when Kurt and I were on our honeymoon, but they didn't have anything like it to tempt me. (I went back to my favorite paper store and bought a bunch of stuff there instead...it's just past the Pantheon on the right side, I can take you there too!)
When she's old enough, I can't wait for us to take Harper to Rome and all the wonderful places we love in Europe. And when she goes traveling on her own, I wonder what will excite her and what souvenir she'll find that might last 20+ years.
So exciting to think about it!