Live Inspired: the hours before takeoff

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

Every time, it’s the same.

On the night before I make a new, big move, I don’t sleep.

Before that point, I think about my plans ahead very differently. Now, over a year into this wild, nomadic existence, there is an element of normalcy in what I do — plunging myself into the unknown, alone — even though at times it feels totally insane.

I know I’ll fall into my flow. I know I’ll fall in love. The constant move, more than anything else now, is the new order.

But in those hours before the next leg begins, a particular feeling takes over — some blend of excitement, anticipation and anxiety — and my pulse raises, my stomach turns.

After three incredible months in the U.S. — with an extra, unexpected week tacked on at the end— I’m heading back to Central America, a region I’ve been thrilled to explore and fall in love with over the last year. Next up is El Salvador, where I plan to be for at least three months before moving on; maybe to Nicaragua, maybe somewhere else.

I’m so inspired to live in San Salvador and travel through the country, to make new friends, to probe my own country’s history there, to listen to stories and share them, to eat a thousand pupusas, to wonder at the cathedrals, the lush blue-green hills, the bustling city centers, the lustrous coast.

Yet that motivation and sense of adventure also comes with the understanding that I’m heading back into a specific breed of solitude — the feeling of moving so much that I can’t grasp community or routine; the loss of that particular privilege of being known and understood by those who surround me.

In the moments before leaving again, I look around the corners of my U.S. existence, the homes and families of my friends, and feel hyper aware of what I’ve given up for this life — the browning potted plants in window frames and worn French presses in the sink, children’s toys in the living room, dog hair on the couch. The comfort of a familiar face at the co-op’s butcher counter. The intimacy of meeting a friend for a late-night beer. The relief of a hug from someone who knows the context, who knows me. Those beautiful threads of ordinariness, the warmth and depth of community and routine.

Girl in tank top and ripped jeans sits on a white marble fountain.

I realize, now sharper than ever, that it will be hard. That I’ll be challenged — logistically, emotionally, mentally, physically. That I’ll sometimes cry and sometimes scream. That I’ll be confronted with sights that make me angry, with history that makes me nauseous, with sudden recognitions that threaten to upend all I think I know.

And I also know I’ll be OK. I know that, forced to rely on the kindness of strangers at times, that they’ll come through. I know that I’ll make bonds that I can’t even yet imagine, that I’ll be awed  by a place I’ve read so much about but never seen, by the perspectives of the people who live there, by levels of resilience and strength and resourcefulness and acceptance that are hard to comprehend.

This journey, as true as I can execute it, is exactly what I want to be doing. And this feeling, this churning in my stomach, this raising of my pulse, it all comes with it.

It’s not a side effect, it’s an integral part. It’s not supposed to be easy or convenient. I’m uncomfortable, and that’s a good thing.

I know that once I land, my anxiety will fade. I’ll fall into my flow, I’ll fall in love.

But for now, I’ll sit in this. I want to feel this part, too.

3 thoughts on “Live Inspired: the hours before takeoff

  1. You are so brave — way more brave than me. I would be scared to death. I love all the various emotions as you leave the familiar for the unknown — with trepidation, anticipation, excitement!!

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