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Last year, on the first Friday of May, I was in Rome.
It was the only day in my life that I ate (at least) three servings of gelato. It was glorious weather, and I soaked up the crazy, happy, loud atmosphere. I was touring there with a friend and her son, with reservations for 4 days. But I had only Friday there because my grandpa died that night. I’ll always be grateful that we had lived that day so expansively, so thoroughly and freely.
The next day, travelling home alone and dealing with rude airline agents, part of my heart broke and died. The part of myself that always thrilled to step onto a plane or train or bus, ticket in hand, was gone, and stayed gone for the rest of the year. I flew several places after that, and always with dread and whimpering, even tears.
It was many things. Losing my gentle, globe-trotting grandpa. Disappointment of leaving Italy so soon. Later, it was about not having energy to travel. At Christmas, it was wonderful to fly home but having just had surgery and needing a wheelchair gave me a kind of identity crisis. Plane tickets started feeling like a bother. It didn’t help when one flight cancelled just as I was ready to leave for the airport in the middle of the night. Airports became something to endure, airline staff couldn’t wait to call me out on something.
I missed the thrill. I missed not being excited to travel when I had the chance. It didn’t feel like me. For most of a year, I wondered if I would ever really want to travel again.
Slowly, it came seeping back.
In February, I felt new energy, new impetus to fly. It helped that I wasn’t alone, and when Janelle and I stepped onto the jet-way in San Diego, we could smell the humid sea air, and suddenly that dead part of my heart felt warm again. We stood outside waiting for our bus, and watched the gulls and palm trees, and met friendly people, and then it came back to me– why I love to explore the far horizon.
It was confirmed when I flew back to Poland, via Amsterdam. What other airport has an art gallery and museum, and a cafe where the booths are giant delft cups? I fell in love again with Holland. With travelling. With bags and airline workers and tickets and arrival times.
Not everyone has to travel to have a good life but I will never live long enough to see every place I want to. Travelling isn’t a right for me to demand, so I’m grateful beyond words for the opportunities I’ve had. It has expanded my soul to talk with other people, observe different lifestyles, eat new food.
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