Guys, today I broke into a castle.
Let me back up. Today, like many other days, I laced up my shoes and headed out for a run. My intended destination was the Villa Rustica, a crazy awesome ruin of a Roman villa not too far from our house, that has been restored into something of a playground (you can climb all over it! There’s descriptions for each of the rooms. Mostly I just like to walk around on the tops of the walls.) Last week we stopped there on the bike trip, so that my retired history teacher host mom could show me around. Having left my phone at home, I new that I needed to come back to take some photos (and to climb around on it again, of course.) Liesbeth was telling me that she used to take her 2nd graders (12 year olds) on a hiking day every year, and they would get really excited because she would bring them a liter of wine (mixed with 10 liters of water. Of course. Can’t have a bunch of drunk 12 year olds running around.)
Anyway, as usual, I knew the general direction to go but not the exact streets and paths to get there. After two failed attempts, I gave up (2 failed attempts and I didn’t want to risk the farmers thinking I was crazy. But really, why do I care so much?) It was a little frustrating, because I could literally see it from where I was but because the fields were so muddy (quick sand mud!) I couldn’t cut across (believe me, I tried.)
I emerged on the other side of the woods laughing at myself for failing, and then I looked up to see the castle at Neuberg looming in the distance. (Literally looming, I kid you not.) And I thought to myself, why the hell not? It was easily the biggest “hill” I’d ever tackled (at running speed, anyway) and there is clearly a first time for everything. Plus the thunder thighs I’ve acquired from recent mountain biking efforts were sure to help me. And so I paced myself. The first third or so (about half a kilometer) was okay. Thunder thighs engage. The second third was twice as steep and also wind-y. Hairpin turns on roads through the vineyards. (I enjoyed it much more on the way down, I assure you.) The last third was a push. But I ran all the way up to the gate of the castle!
And it was locked. Shit. There were a couple of cows in a nearby field who all gathered to watch me. But no humans. Hmmm. I walked around to the chapel, which was sadly “zu gesperrt” (closed. one of my favorite expressions in German these days.) But, thanks to an obnoxiously large keyhole, I definitely did not miss out on basking in its glory. I continued walking, and eventually decided on a wander in the woods.
And after nosing around a bit, there it was: a hidden staircase! Which was of course blocked off. Ha! Like that would stop me. I carefully made my way down the rocky ruins, stopping a few rotting steps before the ground to see if there was anyone else around. No sign of intelligent life anywhere. Well, except for cows. A few more cautious steps over some more tape, and I arrived at the “Hof.” The courtyard. That was a very thrilling moment for me. Alone in a castle, to do things like cartwheels and dreaming about the people who lived here hundreds of years ago.
Running downhill for an extended period always sounds awesome until you’re actually doing it. I always forget about that. I chose to focus my mind on giving Villa Rustica one last shot, and succeeded! I also had a chance to look at my km splits, and running up that hill was actually under my long run pace. Score.
This run was such a perfect metaphor for my life at the moment, and maybe even for my life as an artist thus far. Well, I can hope anyway. I had my sights set on the Villa, and while it was extremely frustrating not to be able to reach it. But it turns out that I was actually meant for something more, something greater—the Schloss Neuberg. The journey up the hill was a labor of love, and there were so many times I wanted to call it quits and turn around. But what could beat breaking into a castle? Even better, I could refocus my path to the Villa and actually get there.
I’m still trying to figure out what my “Schloss Neuberg” actually is. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. But I have a feeling it might be even better than breaking into a castle :)
And so I’ll dedicate tomorrow’s run to all of us who are still trying to find our Schloss Neubergs. Even if your legs get tired, keep moving forward!