I'm not sure if it was the noise of critters crawling on the roof or the wondering what said critters were...regardless, I was up most of the night. The good news: the gorgeous sunrise helped my sour mood slightly. I sat on the guest house balcony and had breakfast overlooking Ella Gap. To the east, Little Adam's Peak that I hiked yesterday. To the west, Little Rawana Falls with Ella Rock rising behind. That, and the guest house pup nipping at my toes...all helped a bit.
I know that it's perfectly acceptable to be a bit lonely and homesick when one is literally half a world away. Solo travel is exhausting. Exhilarating, but exhausting. Every decision is mine. Every response to every question. Warding off every question by locals as to my relationship status and age and nationality and if I like Trump (that would be no). And if I mess up, it's all on me.
But that's why I've done this in the first place: to prove to myself that I can be trusted.
It was a rainy Sunday morning last March that a tsunami of grief caught me unaware. I'd passed the third anniversary of my mother's death without much difficulty and had decided that I'd work to focus on celebrating moreso the day of her birth than that of her death - to focus on her life - her light, rather than those dark days when she left. It was time to stop being defined by the loss. But, as is the law of grief, occasionally I get clobbered with a sneaker wave. I felt breathless and desperate. I needed to shake things up. To move forward. And I remembered saying goodbye to her. I remembered promising her I'd see the world. So I picked up my phone and started searching for the seeds that would eventually bring me here.
Sometimes the tsunami moves us to better things.
A few months before she died, my mom told me what she wanted me to do with her ashes. I was taken aback, as I wasn't aware that her health had deteriorated quite so much. Alas, I obliged and with rolling eyes, promised her I'd take her to Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast, a spot we'd stayed when she had last visited me.
But after she died, and in the true spirit of a daughter, I didn't follow her wishes. I will, someday, but I've got other plans first.
I've missed her immensely, surprisingly, on this trip. I know that she'd have been reading and rereading my blog, likely printing off copies and handing them out to anyone who would stop to listen. And, most likely working on an arranged marriage in the process. She drove me crazy. She was very far from perfect, but I knew more than anything that she believed me to be invincible. So taking this trip without my biggest fan has felt a bit like that first time off the high-five sans water wings.
The hole she left somehow feels more raw. Wider. Deeper. And yet, she feels closer.
I saw a shooting star the other night.
So this morning, I walked down and down and down the irregular concrete steps and took a right on the tracks - away from town. I followed them around the bend, stepping off while a train rumbled by, children waving and locals and tourists hanging from the doors. I walked over a bridge, down a steep dirt path, past a man who told me about his tomatoes and pulled one off of the vine for me and watched while I ate it. Then he left me and I scrambled down a narrow path until I was at the top of Rawana Falls.
Dumidu, the owner of my guest house, has told me that the falls sometimes roar. But now, it's more of a graceful trickle due to little recent rain. Sort of like life, and joy, and grief, I guess.
I set down my pack and pulled out the tiny jar I'd brought halfway around the world. Looking out over the falls toward the valley below, I kissed the lid and opened it into the water, watching it swirl and dip and fall.
I took a few photos, wiped a few tears, and worked my way back toward town.