Monday, August 10, 2009

The Story of My Kite

Well, here we are. After trying to drag this thing out for a long as I could because I freaking love it, we are at the conclusion of my travel blog. Two months in Europe has become a spark of intricate memory in my mind, immeasurable joy riddled with crippling anxiety, but all worthwhile and rewarding.

I look back and can’t believe all the things I have done, and I look at my kite and think about all the amazing sights it has seen, too.  Over the two months my kite was held closer than sometimes even my passport—my only true and significant souvenir, I would not leave it unguarded. It’s my kite, after all. Something that I found some people didn’t know was that each time I flew my kite, not only would I take a picture of it, but I would also write on the kite the date and the location in which I flew it. That way I’ll always remember what sky it touched.

To get the ball rolling, I gave it a Bon Voyage Flight in Onalaska, Wisconsin, on top of a very pretty bluff.

The first European flight was in Lübeck, Germany, a flight that ended up being very difficult, but thanks to some camera-savvy friends, we got a good shot.

Next was a flight in the beautiful island of Wyk auf Föhr in Germany.  I was so very happy to fly my kite there because, as it turns out, Wyk auf Föhr was one of my favorite places in my entire journey (and is arguably the best flight I had).

Flight #4 was in Salzburg, Austria, a place that is so very close to my heart now that I’ve been there. It had been a dream of mine to see the original place of The Sound of Music, and I finally got to check that off the list. Of course I had to fly my kite there.

The fifth flight took place on one of the dangerous edges of the Cliffs of Moher. I compromised my safety for this beautiful shot, and it was worth it.

It took me a long time to find a place to fly my kite in London. Though beautiful, Green Park had a lot of trees, and everywhere else was crowded.  After much searching, I found the perfect spot.  I like to imagine that the Queen of England saw my kite flying that day and is a committed follower of my blog.

Ahh, one of the best shots of me flying my kite is the one I took in Paris. With travelers from Asia and a few six year olds from Paris cheering me on, I got the right shot.

La Rochelle, France was the next place I took my kite. I struggled a lot to control my anxiety in La Rochelle, the first place I was really alone, but it was beautiful nonetheless, and the people I met there (Davi, Julie, Penny and Roger). 

I’ve never drank such amazing wine as what I drank in Aix-en-Provence. Also, I wanted so badly to see the lavender fields, and finally owning a picture I took of the fields is a wonderful thing.

Nîmes was a blessing, mostly because of Carol-Ann and Anthony.  I can’t thank God enough for putting them in my life.

Avignon was a mess, but its weirdness was really fun to be around (well, for a few hours, anyway).  I loved flying my kite there, even though my mom still yelled at me when I got home about where I flew it.

The twelfth flight (which, I just found reminds me of The Twelfth Night, which is a Shakespeare play, which reminds me of the two Shakespeare plays I saw in London that changed my life, which I forgot to mention when I wrote about London above, which has now caused me to write a very long run-on sentence riddled with which’s) was in Milan, Italy. How exciting it was to finally be in Italy! The people I met there, Sufred from India, the sisters from Vietnam, the unfortunate photographer from California…all gave me great memories.

Next, I flew my kite in my favorite place of the entire trip, Cinque Terre. This place was perfect for me, but not for my kite. It was so difficult to find a windy place! The windiest location was not the prettiest, unfortunately, but it had to do. 

And finally, my celebration flight.  Back in the Fifty Nifty, me and my friend Tami went to Riverside Park in good ol’ La Crosse, Wisconsin, and flew my kite for the last time. I originally wanted the picture to be by the La Crosse flight to be in front of the La Crosse Bridge, and we got one, but then I saw a giant American flag in the park.  The picture was too darn hilarious and corny not to take.

What started as a fun idea about a fun, cheap souvenir became a metaphor for me and my journey. I went out (or up) into the unknown. Not knowing what would happen, unaware of the challenges that would come to me, and not expecting the incredible heights that I would reach, I went wherever the wind blew. Sometimes it led me to places I didn't want to be, and sometimes the were places that made me not want to be anywhere else. And without the powerful string of love and prayers (or hugs) I felt from the people who love me, and without God holding on to me at the end of it, I would have completely lost my way. I became a kite. And now I'm back home, which I love, but I'm ready to go up again. 

So there it is. The last of my entries on this blog (probably, but don’t hold me too tightly to that statement). I filled my kite with places it flew in Europe. It is now officially retired, since it has been stuck in power lines before and I would be devastated if it happened now. It has a special place in my heart, and on my wall, for a long time.

My only problem is:  now I’m kiteless.  Here begins another journey—finding the right kite for me!   :) 

Peace, all of you; I can’t tell you how wonderful it has been to share this journey with you. Your support and comments and prayers have meant so much to me. 

I love you all.


(P.S. Send me your email address or something if you want to get information on my new blog when I put it up. Or you  can just keep watching for updates on my website,



  1. It's been an amazing experience for me to travel vicariously with you through this blog (and I'm not talking about my vicarious wine journey through Europe.) You've made me've made me cry...and you've taught me so much about Europe! You've shared the sights, sounds, tastes, emotions of everything that you experienced there.

    It's been an amazing journey...on so many levels. It's been a journey not only for YOU, but for your Dad and me and many others.

    I have to share a few of the 'levels' of amazement from this journey.

    I'm very impressed how you shared your emotions and anxiety disorder. That is a very brave thing to do. Most people are afraid to admit that they suffer from anxiety/depression because of the stigma that is attached to it. This stigma must be crushed. It prevents too many people from getting the help they need! Anxiety and depression is the most painful thing I've ever experienced. If you have helped just ONE person that is suffering with anxiety/depression, then you've accomplished something wonderful. You're living proof that anxiety and depression CAN be treated, and coped with...and that there IS hope!

    I'm very happy that your faith has been strengthened through this trip. When you left, your faith was in a weird, skeptical place. I wasn't sure where it would lead. One of the things i will never forget is when you called me during one of your most anxiety-filled days. The anxiety was hitting you as hard as it could. We prayed together. I prayed for God to give you strength and to keep you safe. When you prayed, you thanked Him for everything in your life. You were in so much pain, yet all you could do was praise God and be grateful for everything He had given you. You were so thankful for all of the wonderful people in your life...and you named a ton of people.

    One thing that this trip has confirmed for me: trust God...just trust Him...always.

    I have to admit there were some times that I was at the end-of-my-worry-rope. At those times I completely handed over my worries to Him. I said "I trust You, Lord. You will protect Brian. You will keep him safe. I totally trust You." When I said this...and totally believed this...a sense of calm came over me. And look....He DID protect you. You're safe.

    (I type too be continued in next comment...)


  2. (My comments...continued)

    I’m still amazed by the people that God placed in your path during this trip. I offer thanks to God and all of these people: thanks to the mother and son from New Zealand who opened up their vacation home to you, to the stranger that took your bottle of wine during our wine-skype party to open it (and he RETURNED IT!), to the family from Missouri that was stranded with you in a train station at midnight during the train strike in Cinque Terre, to the family that flew with you into Milan at midnight and drove you an hour out of their way to your hostel, to the nuns in La Rochelle that gave you a pair of sporty sunglasses that someone else had lost years ago because you had lost/broken your sunglasses, to the awesome people that opened up their homes to you and your choir buddies for home stays during the choir part of your trip, to the people in the Bethel Choir and friends and family and loved ones that added you to their prayers and emailed you their support and sent you their hugs when you needed to feel their love, to the guy that owned the only American-owned bar in Paris and treated you to a second glass of wine for ‘safe travels’ when you really needed someone to speak your language, to the couple that offered you their cell phone to make an international call when your own cell wouldn’t work and your debit card wouldn’t work, to the people you met that offered you smiles when you couldn’t speak each others language, to the woman that offered you a Kleenex while you were in the train station praying with me. You were blessed, Brian.
    When you flew out of Minneapolis in May, it seemed that you had aspirations to learn about the faith of people in Europe….to try to understand what makes them tick….to see what you could learn from other from their beliefs. But I think you accomplished something even more difficult and more important. I think you learned a lot about your own faith and what makes YOU tick.
    I’m thankful that you’re home….safe. I am also very grateful for everything that you experienced in Europe. Everything.
    I love you!

  3. what you said is beautiful, mom. thanks so much for reminding me how faithful God is.

  4. I LOVE this post! Flying your kite in all those places was such a cool idea! And just because it was mine, I can't take credit for it anymore--you were the one who made it happen!

    My favorite flight photo is a tie between Avignon and the Cliffs of Moher. But the Cliffs of Moher wins because I have beautiful flowers from there. :)

    Wow, Tess, your comments were awesome! I've loved sharing your trip too, Brian. And I knew you were blessed along the way but when it's all in one comment it's even more obvious and intense!

    I love you so much. And I can't wait to read your new blog! You should probably start now. Hehe.

    Hey, and anyone reading this: I have one now. Heh. Shameless advertising for you.

    Well, I love you!

  5. Well Brian,
    I am sad to see this blog coming to an end and I want to thank you for letting me read it. I really feel I know you (and your family too) much better because of it.

    I love that kite! I think that is the coolest thing I have ever seen and it is so great that you get to hang it on your wall!!

    Well, I plan to follow Christie's blog and I would love to follow another blog of yours as well. My email is:

    God Bless Brian!

  6. shameless, christie. shameless. advertising your blog on my blog. what nerve.

    just kidding, christie's blog is actually quite awesome. everyone should read it. :)

    thanks, brenda. i'm really glad you enjoyed it. i'll let you know when the new blog starts. :)