Count down to take off...
You must be so excited!
No. Two weeks ahead of travelling and I know I should be but the truth is I’m just exhausted and don’t know how to feel. I’m done with my life in the UK, done with my crappy job and the unnecessary stress and anxiety, done with other people’s dramas. I’m just done! My final week in London was put aside for relaxing, taking time out, and yet I was still planning, still shopping for the travel essentials I couldn’t really afford and still living by a to-do list that was slowly spiralling out of control.
It’s hard to get excited about something that isn’t a holiday and requires so much hard work and preparation. This journey of a life time was about to unfold before I was really ready for it to, despite 2 years of planning and hard saving. I had no idea what to expect from this trip and travelling into the unknown was going to be my life for the next year. It was daunting.
Then just before you’re about to leave…
…your body breaks down. I over did it with the exercise and was out for over a week with a back injury and ended up on a course of antibiotics for a root canal treatment that failed from 4 years ago. I mean, seriously?
"You must be so excited?!" people would ask. I am so far from any sort of feeling resembling excitement, and frankly I’m frustrated that you ask, which makes me feel bad as I know your intentions are good.
In the last few months leading up to departure I felt lost. I can only describe it as an out of body experience, only I wasn’t even remotely close to my body. I was far away, somewhere else, and all that remained was a machine – breathing, eating, getting through a daily to-do list. It made me feel pretty vulnerable to be honest – this emotional disconnect – and an interesting memory from my childhood surfaced…
I was about 5 years old and on my way to Poland in the car with my mum and brother. We did this every summer, listening to my mum’s tape collection of ‘Sealed with a Kiss,’ on which Cliff Richard featured heavily. We were waiting in a queue for the ferry and I wandered off, as I was in the habit of doing when I was young, and I remember coming to the edge of the path. All of a sudden I was staring down into a magnificent, angry, grey British sea, crashing into the rocks. I remember standing on the edge, against a heavy wind with no barrier to catch me should I lose my footing. I was acutely aware of the potential danger I was in, and yet nothing could move me from that spot. I stayed long enough for the moment to have ingrained itself in my tiny memory. I wanted so much to climb in to test how strong the waves really were and to see what would happen if I touched one of them, but of course instinct served me well and I kept away. Maybe it was the sudden awareness of my vulnerability that kept me in that spot, in awe for so long.
That’s how I have felt in the lead up to this trip…facing the world, perplexed, confused, in awe…on the edge of a path staring down at a formidable sea, waiting to see how it takes me, to see if I can survive it.
It’s time to test the water.
It’s time to recover myself – this person I seem to have lost that’s not in or even near my body. Whether she finds me or I find her is another matter but I know it will happen at some point.
I’m now writing this on the plane on my way to Cuba. I’ve been meaning to write it all week but I just haven’t had the time. After a few drinks and some pretzels I’ve come to thinking…I’m leaving a lot of people behind who I never realised love me so much. On top of that I feel like I’m falling in love all over again with life and the possibilities that exist in the world, and my partner and best friend, Seamus, who I am travelling with.
"When do you think this happens" I asked my friends before setting off; "this feeling of excitement?"
"When you’re on the plane", was their response.
They were right.
I’m finally doing what I promised myself I would do from as young as I can remember. I’m not just observing this great universe any more, I’m immersing myself in it, and for the first time in a very long time, I feel a lot of love - from the people I left behind and from the little girl, on the edge of the rocks staring into English Channel.
Check out my highlights and travel tips for everywhere I travelled to as part of The Great Escape Expedition.