In January 2017, I went to Europe with three friends. We flew into Amsterdam, then went to Nice, and ended up in Vienna. It was…interesting. I definitely had fun, buuuut I realized that I prefer to travel alone. Anyways, this story isn’t about them. This story is about Maia.
I met Maia, a twenty-year-old girl from just outside of Oslo who was backpacking her way around Europe, surviving off her monthly allowance from the Norwegian government. I was sitting with my friends on Opera Plage, a beach in Nice with uncomfortably by rocks instead of sand.
A girl in mismatched clothes came up to us and said, “This guy has been following me and is being really creepy. Can I sit with you guys until he leaves.” So she sat with us. We hit it off right away. Not really my friends, but just me.
We both have the same mindset. Over the course of our friendship, I would learn that the mindset we shared was a yearning for freedom.
Maia and I hung out for a few days in Nice, before Cyd and I left for Vienna. I remember noticing that she was strong. Nice has a ton of men who loooove to harass women and she didn’t take any of it. Her strength transferred to me and I felt more confident and safe in defending myself against the French men at Wayne’s Bar.
Maia invited me to the hostel she was working at. I met a group of friends from Argentina. We made a spaghetti dinner and sang Bohemian Rhapsody. Actually, let me correct myself. We performed Bohemian Rhapsody. And it was awesome.
I learned that Maia wasn’t afraid of anything. She did what she wanted and she didn’t care what happened. Maybe she was reckless. But I don’t care. It was intoxicating. She was one of the coolest people I’ve ever met.
We stayed in contact through Whatsapp and she ended up visiting me in Rome for two weeks while I was studying Italian. We wandered in and out of cathedrals and she told me how both of her parents were priests and what it was like growing up surrounded by religion.
She also told me about living in India for a year. No phone, barely any money. But she survived. I couldn’t. That’s not exactly easy to do.
We ate bruschetta and had espresso for one euro and ate chocolate deserts in front of the Colosseo, our feet hanging off a ledge that was 10 meters off the ground. She was always down to do the coolest stuff. We were totally on the same page.
The best part of Rome with Maia was how close we got. She talked about her life and it really just blew my mind. She was so utterly different. I learned about her struggles and gave her advice and she told me that no one has ever cared about her enough to give her advice. That made me happy.
Five months pass and I find myself in Maia’s home country of Norway. I came to visit a friend who was studying abroad there, but I was more looking forward to seeing Maia. I remember my friend being, first a bit confused, but then really excited about Maia. It seemed that I wasn’t the only one how found her so intriguing.
Maia was so friendly and so loving that it really didn’t take long for us to become close friends. Two days into knowing her I thought that I wouldn’t mind knowing her my entire life. I don’t think I could ever get bored of her.
The last I heard of Maia was shortly after Oslo. It’s been nearly a year. No Whatsapp, no activity on Facebook. Well, actually, I do get occasional signs of life. Twice, she’s sent me some crazy Indian photos and I have no idea what the mean.
Anyways, I was relieved when I got them because a part of me thought she was dead. But that’s just how she does. She lives her life and she does it how she wants it and that’s what matters. I don’t know if that’s what I want out of my life but I admire it. Wherever Maia is today, I hope she’s ok. And I hope she thinks of me.