When I was eleven years old I painted Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Ten years later, I stood in front of the real thing at the Neue Pinakothek in Munich. How can I express how important this moment was for me? When I painted it before, I worked from a glossy little postcard. My art teacher told me to apply the paint thickly. She should have told me to slather color on without thought of wasting paint, letting my tormented artistic genius, starving for the sake of beauty pour her soul onto the canvas (just like Van Gogh did). Standing before Sunflowers, I realized all over again how wonderful this Europe trip is. We get to see, face to face, “the real thing”. I would have given anything to bring my eleven year old self into the room, with her canvas and paints. But maybe the whole reason I appreciate it so much now is because for so long all I knew was a postcard. All I knew of Europe were the books I read, and now I’m driving through countryside and seeing old buildings that I’ve carried in my imagination my whole life. It is incredible. I am so thankful–this is something I never dreamed I would get to do, and now this experience is as real as “the real things”.