I've spent the last few days on a roller coaster. I'm excited one moment, stressed and anxious the next, and vacillate between complete denial and disbelief all the while. But tomorrow, I'll be embarking on a journey to the other side of the world. By myself. To play with elephants.
Makes tons of sense.
I've had quite a few people, when they discover that I'm going to Sri Lanka alone, respond with, "Wow. You're brave." Except I'm not. Make no mistake. I'm terrified! But I know one thing about my world: life will happen whether I stay home or not. So, when a curious and perhaps well-meaning someone asked, "Don't you have any friends to go with?" I responded without even thinking that, yes, I do have friends. Most are quite busy with lives of their own...and I wanted to go alone. This time.
The girl I know who went to Tanzania in 2010 is quite different from me now. That trip was life-changing in so many ways, but not at all in the ways I thought that it would be. And not at all in the ways that life and circumstance would change me in the years since. But the one basic element remains: me. When one travels by herself, there's nothing and no one to rely on but you. And that tends to come in handy.
Therin lies the magic.
Life is hard. We get smacked down at times...sometimes a few times in a row. But it's also glorious. I simply needed to be reminded of my ability to do something big, to go to a strange place and meet people, see amazing things, and of how big and wonderful the world truly is.
And one more thing. When I left for Tanzania in 2010, my mother was my biggest cheerleader. I'm fairly certain that she stopped complete strangers in the grocery store to tell them about her daughter. She pronounced it fancy-like: Tahnz-ah-neeya. I just shook my head and smiled. And on a cold February afternoon three years later when I said my final goodbye to her, I played for her a song that I'd used as soundtrack to a slideshow on my trip blog. She loved that song.
I promised her I'd see the world. But I haven't been far since.
(Well, that and I really wanted an excuse to buy a selfie stick.)