It’s been interesting reading over what I wrote that ‘first’ week. Seeing both what I could not see then, and what I was somehow able to see then, for all my blindness.
Below, I reference the summer before my first trip abroad, when I went to the UK and Ireland, September through December of 2001. Ever since that time, I always use the word travel rather than vacation to describe my time away. For me, to travel is to start on a path with a few belongings and a few ideas. After all, I am going to a place that I either do not know, or only know in part; who am I to say that I know what will happen?
And, day four of my week of knowing and not-knowing, earlier this year…
[16 February 2012]
The beauty of words surprised her sometimes. She thought of a good one about him yesterday: “I could curl up in your voice.” That was exactly what she meant. And saying it made her mean it more. The beauty of words is their truth, and their truth is their power.
That is it. Beauty, true beauty, is about the essence of a thing. And the essence of a thing is its truth. And truth is always power, because it stands in the light. And it only takes a little light to dissipate the darkness. Darkness has power in its completeness, or the fear of its completeness. Once you see it isn’t overtaking you, the amount that it has taken over you becomes less of an issue.
She scratches her head. It’s morning again. Another day to lumber forth wondering what lies ahead.
This space is so like the summer before she first went abroad. She would sit in the bathroom stall at work several times a day for nearly ten minutes, just to get away from stuffing and labeling envelope after envelope — peel, stick, fold, stuff. She would sit and stare at the blank metal stall door and try to picture Ireland. Try to see her future. But it was blank. So blank it would turn black in her mind. She couldn’t even introduce the pictures of green she’d seen to that blackness. And in her stomach she felt a sick sensation, that stale hum that lies at the bottom of terror (not the frantic heart beating layers which fill up the main feeling of terror). It wasn’t necessarily a negative feeling (though it certainly wasn’t positive). It was more an impossibility to know. An irreparable blindness. It was a blackness she had to step into or walk away from. But all that walking away from it would accomplish was to stay where she was.
So now the blackness stands before her again. And she’s ready to take the plunge.
When will she actually take the plunge? April? May? June? July?
Where all will she actually travel to? East Coast? West Coast? England?
Will her garden work this year?
Oh if only travel didn’t cost so much. And if only she didn’t have a cat now that she loved and didn’t want to leave for long periods of time. But visiting people isn’t the answer. Nor is seeing distant lands. Life is about figuring out the day to day — and for her, that will happen here. Sweden awaits in the fall, after all.
Today her words have slowed. But even now she realises the brilliance of this writing — seeing herself as the main character. For, in her life, she is the main character, after all. And a red-headed heroine is never a shabby thing.
Talking to Chelsea the other night, my first travelling companion (for the trip I mention above), we agreed that no matter how difficult a trip is, you never regret it. When you look back, you remember that you were depressed, or incredibly stressed, but you no longer feel those ways, rather, you remember that one lovely view, or that funny stranger, and somehow these moments far outweigh the fears and frustrations.
To surrender to that darkness of the unknown, step by slow step, is all that’s required to go on an adventure.
The Road goes ever on and on
down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
and I must follow, if I can,
pursuing it with eager feet,
until it joins some larger way
where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”