When I think about the jongleur saga, I like to compare two days - the first and the last.
May 15th ~ Paris, France: I had 2 euros to my name and had just given up all of my possessions on the way out of Bucharest. Annelise had left the states in a complete whirlwind of ending school, moving out of the apartment, and hoping to successfully catch a standby flight. We weren't completely sure of where we were sleeping that night. We had never played or memorized any music together. We thought we would travel to nine countries, but we didn't know how to get there or who we would stay with. But, we sat drinking cappuccinos in Saint Michel and daydreaming cluelessly about what was ahead.
We always joked the trip was an "operation," because we were two street musicians living in other countries for a summer with only the money from our music to make it happen. "Operation" was a great term for it, because we were always strategizing individual "missions" along the way. I'll never forget all of the metro adventures like squeezing through the turn stiles in Paris because we only had money for one metro pass and racing out of an Amsterdam metro station after setting the alarms off trying to get four people through without a ticket! Oh, and I can't leave out the "hitch hike from Amsterdam to Hannover" part of the operation - more appropriately named "walk on the Autobahn for three hours until the police pick us up." And there was always the re-working of the outline of the trip, coupled with the question of "how in the world will we get there?!" We budgeted and counted out stacks of euros countless times. At one point we ate butter pasta every day just to make the money we needed to have the time of our life in Amsterdam.
August 8th ~ Nice, France: We had just come off of our final weekend. We had been hired for a private gig and recorded our music in a studio. Though it wasn't a lot, we had money in our pocket. We sat on the balcony of our friend's apartment reminiscing and talking about how the trip had shown us things about ourselves that could really change the direction we take in the future.
It wasn't always easy to be so poor or to have such an unpredictable existence. But when I compare the girls of that very first day in Paris to the girls of the very last day in Nice, I know it was "operation success." The independence, strength, and openness of those two girls on August 8th is what shows me the impact of the kind of experience this operation truly had :)