I don’t know who among you reading this will be shocked and who will stand up and yell ABOUT DAMN TIME, WOMAN.
I’ve been facing this decision for some time, and through a multitude of tiny steps I inched my way toward it, nailing it down by unofficial degrees, but never being brave enough to take a step that would commit me fully and financially. I seeded the ground earlier this week, not explaining to my friends what was going on but saying “if I don’t commit by the weekend, beat me senseless.”
I committed. I stared at this screen for several minutes first, though, willing myself to choose. Most of our actions have unintended consequences. This one would be laden with intended consequences.
I cried when I got to this point, for lots of reasons:
I am thirty-five years old. I have survived the shittiest eighteen months of my life, and as a result, the entire trajectory of my life has changed. I have never known what my future would hold, but if the past year and a half has taught me anything, it has taught me that if I stop acting like I have a future, I won’t have one.
I write those words as much for myself as for you, the reader, because the past eighteen months have beaten me up on the inside, on the tender and hidden parts of the soul that only one’s closest friends see. They’ve ravaged enough that it’s taken me months to acknowledge this: the only thing that scares me more than doing this trip … is the thought of who I will become if I’m NOT the kind of person who would make this trip.
I choose life list item #7: finally take that decades-delayed trip to London.
I choose life list item item #16: Successfully order beer. In German. In Germany.
I choose to make travel part of my life again. I choose to put my camera gear into my backpack again, and get lost in a strange city. I choose to trust that the world still has amazing experiences for me, if I can be brave enough to go out and find them.
I choose to go to Europe for a month. I’ll start in Munich. If I’m lucky, I’ll arrange for crashspace in northern Germany and eastern France with co-workers. Somewhere in that month, I’ll end up in London. What happens in the space between is yet to be determined, but it is an intended consequence of tonight’s actions.
I fear what people will say. I fear the talk and the gossip of I-can’t-believe-Jeff-isn’t-going and the can-you-believe-she-left-him-at-home. I fear I will be judged a bad wife and a poor caregiver for Jeff. I can’t control the opinions of others, and the fear of those opinions has become my constant companion.
I’m going anyway. Andy Dufresne had a point.
Get busy living, or get busy dying.