Stepping onto the plane took a lot out of me. A lot more than expected, anyway. For the entirety of the few weeks leading up to my departure, I just casually toyed with the idea of going on an adventure to Africa with lighthearted amusement, in an ‘it’ll be cool’ kind of way, completely forgetting to give thought to the feelings that may accompany such a dramatic transition. It wasn’t until my mom started crying at the airport that its effect became apparent. I hit a brick wall of emotion.
“Be safe,” sobbed my mom.
“Watch your back,” warned my dad.
“… be careful… I love you…,” said mom.
“… keep your head down… take your medicine…,” said dad.
As hard as I tried, I couldn’t grasp a single word that was being said to me, I was trying to get a grip on myself. Turning away from my family was difficult, and I remember having a moment of paralyzing fear when I thought about an entire year away from everything I’ve ever known.
“This isn’t right for me,” said my fear.
But I took the deepest breath I could manage and felt for my strength…
“There it is…”
And went forward.
Charlotte to Philadelphia. Philadelphia to Doha. Doha to Arusha. Each moment taking me miles and miles away from home.
There was a vice grip on my chest that was squeezing and squeezing, and then finally, halfway across the Atlantic, I felt a sudden release.
Everything was okay.
I drank in the experience of a lifetime. I felt the power of opportunity, of endless hypotheticals, and let it give me strength. I was assured with every moment that I was, and am, living my life to the fullest, and I don’t think that there is any greater happiness than that. I am in love with the way that my life is unfolding.
Everything that I’m perceiving is new, and every perception is having a deeper impact on me. I’d like to say that I arrived at Kilimanjaro International Airport prepared for the adversity ahead, but I thought the same things when I arrived at Charlotte Douglas Airport in North Carolina. I guess there is no ‘sure.’
Original Publication Date: September 8, 2015
Original Publication Site: http://globalgap.unc.edu/2015/09/08/miles-away-from-home-living-life-to-the-fullest/