I’m currently on a plane flying from JFK to Kiev, Ukraine and onward to New Delhi, India.
Before I turned off my phone for the next 30 hours, I got a bunch of messages and texts from loved ones saying things like “safe travels” to “have fun” to “I’m so inspired by your bravery”
In all honesty, I don’t feel particularly brave.
In fact my emotions oscillate from just going with the flow, feeling normal and laughing at the absurdity of being on a plane completely full of Hasidic Jews and watching them as they negotiate changing their seats with unsuspecting strangers (I myself upgraded from an aisle seat to a window seat so a family could sit together) and seeing the panicked look on the flight attendants faces as the plane started moving from the gate and barely anyone had taken a seat yet, to thinking of the life gripping fear I felt a few days earlier as I spent my last night in the place I called home, clinging to my partner and sobbing, the tears and mucus drenching his shoulder.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do without you. You’re like my security blanket” I told him in between sobs.
I couldn’t get over the feeling of my heart gripping my chest and feeling like I was about to be free falling into the unknown with nothing to hold onto. Nothing safe and familiar to cling close to, not my partners strong hand nor the familiar sights of my beloved sea nor the familiar faces of my co workers or the feeling of my own bed.
Just the vast, open, and scary unknown.
“You don’t need me as a security blanket”, he replied. “You are your own strong and powerful woman”.
I tearfully whispered, “I know”, because I know this deeply to be true.
But in that moment, all I wanted to do was be cuddled and coddled, be completely taken care of and told that everything was going to be okay, that someone or something would always keep me safe and protected.
I wanted to stay right there forever, safe in someone else’s arms, where I didn’t have to face the goodbyes or the loneliness or the doubts or the fear of landing in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language, didn’t know anyone, and would have to figure it all out, on my own.
Though the funny thing is, is that when I’ve ripped off the protective band aid and said the goodbyes and kissed for the last time and had the last hug and waved the last time and set off without looking back, I feel calm. I feel safe. I feel powerful.
And I don’t feel alone.
I look around me and see other humans.
I look outside my airplane window and see the familiar sights of clouds and blue sky and oceans and earth.
I hear words in a language I don’t understand from my seatmates, but they’re still words.
These are still humans, this is still earth, and this is still my home.
Whether it’s in a liberal college town in Pennsylvania where I was born and raised, or a hippie town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains where I went to high school, or in a beachside town in bougie Southern California where I went to college, or a small town in coastal Connecticut where I called home for the last 2 years, or on planes and trains and foreign cities and countries, home is the feeling that no matter where I am or who I’m with, I will always be home when I am at home with myself.
When I can place the trust and love and power into the little girl that just wants to be swaddled like a baby or wants to travel the world or wants to build a business or be a star, I know that she is my home.
So when people tell me that I’m “brave” for traveling the world alone, I don’t feel brave. I just feel like I’m finally coming back home.
EDIT: This was written BEFORE landing in a foreign country…see here for how I felt once I actually got there… (and I’m not even to India yet, LOL)