My flight was the only domestic airline in the International terminal, so I lacked the full glee that my fellow travelers carried through the concourse. They had the beautiful glow of adventure in their eyes. As I sat there among them, I felt a smile creep across my face. The admiration I had for the seekers of knowledge gave me a feeling of belonging to the traveler’s tribe. An unspoken privilege in mindset, extended to woke wanderers. Minds that sought answers to difficult questions. Individuals that drew compassion out of the depths of third world poverty. Souls that drew joy out of understanding. Persons not bound by mundane patterns. People freed by their own minds. Captives of no Man. And though I lacked a foreign bound boarding pass, my current juncture allowed me to step out of the box, and look at myself as a member of an exclusive club.
After a few months of travel and work in the states, I was fortunate enough to have the time to sneak a trip home this past weekend. It was my Mom’s birthday and with a year and a half of travel ahead, I was not sure when I would be home next. I knew I had to see my family. With two nieces of blooming minds, it was important that I invest in their memories of me. So I swept home with treasures I brought from around the world. Chopsticks from China, crystals from Vietnam, foreign bank notes and coins, Indian Bangalore bracelets, Nepalese singing bowls, Magnets from the Taj Mahal, hand carved jade elephants, and more. All were packed tightly into a beat up, shoe tied, tape ripped cardboard box.
I arrived in Cincinnati early morning and surprised my mom, when my sister, nieces and I picked her up for brunch. Though it wasn’t the first time I caught her off guard with a visit, it was certainly one of the most emotionally charged. It has been a heavy year for my family in many ways, but we have never felt closer. I was able to reunite with the best friends I have ever had. Friendships of such importance that even after 20 years, we still have heart to hearts that well up the eyes, and belly laughs that feel like seizures.
My time was very limited, and when the time to depart came, my chest tightened with melancholy, knowing it would be a long time before I saw many of these integral people in my life. As I hugged my nieces and kissed my Mom and sister goodbye, I fought intensely to keep the tears back. But as I honked and waved driving away, the tears began to pour. I allowed myself to have a moment while I gassed up the vehicle, and then with a hard swallow, collected myself, and found a plateau of composure. It was an amazing visit.
As I proceeded to the international terminal in Cincinnati (bound for San Francisco International airport,) I felt the butterflies well in my stomach. Chills rushed down my neck and my heart flutterred. The cacophony of sounds bustled. The hum of conversations in languages I could not understand raised the hair on my arms. As approached my gate and sat down prior to my flight, I felt at ease. My bags by my side, and a book on Burma and Orwell, sat on my lap. I took a deep breath and smiled. This is my life. This is who I am.
The path ahead of me is mapped in dreamscape doodles and pencil sketched coast lines. With three months of seasonal work before our initial decent into Central America, I eagerly sit at 30,000 feet, daydreaming of my beach front destination, and the Mecca that is to come. So I take a breath, and look to the horizon, knowing that the power bestowed on an individual seeking it is life changing. So, here’s to those that seek. To those that do. Because choosing this path is no small feat, but your reward can never be taken. Onward and upward.