My ass was glued to the toilet and my boyfriend of three years, David, was yelling my name, telling me to hurry up. I was 22 and I was running late for my flight to Turkey. At that point I had never left the country. Not once to hop down to Mexico, not even to drive a few hours north from Portland, Oregon to Canada. I would be getting on that plane alone and I would be traveling through the country for 3 months. My stomach was so knotted in fear and doubt that my nerves had gotten the better of me and my bowels were emptying.
David was trying to balance feeling bad that I was such a mess, feeling hurt that I was going on this adventure without him, giving me support in my crazy decision, and trying to get me to calm down sufficiently to part with the bathroom for just enough time to travel to the airport. In light of all this, he was doing a great job.
The year of saving. The doubt of my family and friends about my decision to travel for the first time, alone, to a muslim country, months after 9/11. The thought of leaving my partner and my life to dive into the unknown. These were all the thoughts coursing through my body in waves that I couldn’t ignore. So, I sat there, crying, shitting, my boyfriend banging on the door, the taxi to the airport waiting outside.
What had I done. What was I thinking?!?? When there was finally simply nothing left in my stomach, I shakily got up, gathered myself together and stepped through the bathroom door into the the unbelievingly understanding arms of my boyfriend. And then I stood a little straighter. With every step towards the cab. With every mile toward the airport. I gathered courage. I gathered it from the conviction that I was doing something brave and scary but I was doing it for me and no one else. I gathered it from the sense that even though I didn’t know what I was doing, I was fulfilling a dream. I gathered it from the rebellious part of me that was going against what the people around told me was a dangerous endeavor. I gathered it from a place deep in the core of me that was scared to do something like this and yet was also excited by my fear. As I gathered all of those feelings, I let a tiny smile come to my lips. I humped my backpack on my back, took my boyfriend’s hand and walked out the door to the cab. It was the best decision I could have ever made. Those shaky steps lead me to a love of travel, an obsession with adventure and a confidence in myself I didn’t know was possible.