When people hear about my round-the-world trip, they immediately envision the project in its enormous scope. They count the cities, the continents. They wonder aloud at the spectrum of cultures to absorb, people to meet, experiences to be had. Their jaws slacken as they conceptualize the voyage and formulate their personal version of “Can I go with you?” They ask if I’m excited.
Up until today, my excitement was (still is, somewhat) tempered by the necessary and very boring, unglamorous, and sometimes-frustrating process of planning and executing a three-month round-the-world trip, followed directly by a trans-equatorial move. Confirming flights, securing lodging, organizing finances, locating addresses, preparing documentation, and packing bags necessarily shift the focus from the grand scheme to logistical minutiae; I don’t have time to get very excited about the endeavor as a whole because I have to look at and manage each step as it comes in order to keep from missing a step. And this is indeed the grandest endeavor I’ve ever undertaken.
The past few months have been marked by a series of miniature milestones that I’ve anticipated anxiously as they approached: the end of the school year and my move from Colombia, visiting friends in Venezuela and Panama, reconnecting with my family in Florida, soaking up positive energy on the West Coast, retracing my steps in DC, celebrating my impending departure in New York. These events have come and gone, and nothing’s left now but the departure itself—a launch from my country, my culture, my friends and family, my familiar into the unknown. No returning to a job in a month. No coming back to my honey or dog or goldfish or plants in a week. No plan other than to collect as many experiences and as many life-long friends around the world as possible over the next three months, then make a go of life in the Big Apple of the Southern Hemisphere. It’s deep, y’all. Enough to frighten most people.
In fact, I almost succumbed to the fear, myself. Coming back to the States, I felt bombarded by the propaganda of American capitalism: buy, buy, buy! I started to feel like a loser because my cell phone couldn’t take pictures or tell me how to get to the closest Italian restaurant or bake a birthday cake. I felt like I needed to come back, get an MBA, get a “real” job, and start acquiring things. Thank the Cosmos that all my plane tickets are non-refundable. I’m not disparaging folks for having all the latest gadgets and flyest kicks and the new-new whip; but I’ve learned, mostly because of traveling overseas, that memyselfpersonally, I don’t really need those things. Stability, yes. Accoutrements, no.
And right now, on the cusp of the next chapter in my life, I’m suddenly, unexpectedly ready for the unknown.