Travel is stepping off of my real world into an abyss of the unknown. Even when I am returning to a place I have visited before, it will have changed.
(Well, two things are constant when I arrive in Mexico; 1) the friendly welcome from Raul and his family, and 2) the pink puffy plastic Barbie toilet seat. The first I can count on, the second I thought I had wished away.)
But I digress.
Planning my travel, I am buoyant and confident. It’s like childbirth, I forget the gritty painful parts and just remember the joy of arrival. My resistance begins later. I stay in denial, refusing to pack and neglecting to prepare. Then as departure day approaches my trepidation begins. By the morning of travel I wake with a frisson of fear. Am I booked on the right flight? I’m a big picture sort of gal so even though I checked in the day before, I haven’t REALLY looked at the flight times and airport codes.
I walk into walls in mindless search for last minute things to do and/or pack, On the way to the airport I mentally tick off the things I may have left behind but never remember in time. I am wound into a tight knot of apprehension. “If you have your passport, a credit card, and some cash, you’ll make it,” my husband says. He is resigned to my last minute jitters.
The closer I come to my destination, the more uncertain I am. Cheerfully snacking on the plane I am wondering, “Did I arrange for the right date?” I’m working puzzles and preoccupied with whether I’ll find the key to my rental house. I recognize the street and the people and question, “What am I doing here? Will I like it? Is this really a good idea?”
I don’t remember this prickling doubt when I was younger. It all seemed exciting then. Now, moving out of my own sphere takes enormous energy. Waving goodbye at curbside is poignant. Pulling away from that last hug embodies the angst of leaving behind my friends, family and familiar surroundings.
And still I want to travel. I’m not finished.
So I will settle in. Worst case, I will change my ticket and return early. More than likely, though, I will be just as sad when I leave here. This will have become my life again and hold a bit of my heart when it’s time to go. But for now, I am yearning for home.