The last two years have meant a break-up, my first heartbreak, my first major road trip, my first really long solo backpacking trip, overcoming the fear of hitchhiking, the learning of a new language, visiting five new countries and counting, sharing time with people in over 30 cities, living in three new cities and on an island, kayaking 136 kilometers around another island, making friends in over 15 countries, deep conversations with countless strangers, and an abundance of insight shared, gained, and explored. They have meant being away from the country I called home for nearly my entire life, and separating myself from my friends and family. It required leaving behind everything familiar, to move into a place where I couldn't understand what was being said around me, or communicate what was inside me to anyone that was around. And they have proved to be more valuable than any other period of years I likely have lived till now. So how can I sit here, looking at flights, knowing that whichever one I choose will be the "The End" written at the end of this particular story? I keep trying to rationalize buying a flight that leaves just a few days later, but the reality of it is: this chapter is coming to a close. And while I prefer to think of the "The End" as a "To Be Continued," I know that this particular adventure will soon come to its close.
Spain has been so good to me for so many reasons, too many to even grasp. This country will always be where my love affair with life abroad and my dedication to a life of travel started. When I came here, wide-eyed and unknowing, expecting to eat burritos, tacos, and enchiladas everyday back in 2009, I couldn't have ever known it'd be a place I'd come back to and inhabit for over two-plus years more. (Yes, I really did think that I would be eating Mexican food all the time... in Spain. Just a glimpse at how high my level of global awareness was prior to life abroad the first time. O_o) And I couldn't be more grateful now, as I sit here in a traditional Spanish town, writing these words, that this is the journey I've been blessed enough to take.
I still remember saying goodbye to my friends in Las Arenas (Getxo, Bilbao, Northern Spain) back in 2010, as I got ready to go home, gather my bags, and make the journey back to California the first time. I was crying so much, because I was so sad to be leaving the single-most impacting experience of my life behind. Deep down, I knew I'd be back, but it just seemed so impossible and far away at the time, I couldn't see it as a reality that would ever happen. Then, in 2012, sitting in my cubicle at Disney/ABC, looking at pictures of faraway places, internally screaming to be there; wondering how I could be sacrificing my soul in a cube among countless others, when what I really wanted was to leave it all behind and just go, anywhere. I distinctly remember bawling my eyes out at the airport the day my dad dropped me off to catch my flight over here in 2013. As the plane was taking off, I had to use everything in me to suppress the urge to shout for them to stop the plane and let me out. I was terrified, I had no idea what was about to happen to me/in my life, and I was so sure that not only could I not do whatever it was I was about to do, but that I flat-out had no idea what I was even thinking with any of it, or trying to do. Then I remembered: this isn't a roller coaster, per say. ;-) And I will always remember the moment that my feelings shifted from, "HOLY FLYING F WHAT AM I THINKING!?!?!" to "This is the plane that's going to take me back to Spain. I did it. I actually did it.. I'm going back. Oh My Gosh, I'm going back! I'm going back to Spain!!!!" All such powerful memories, and there have been so, so many added ones along the way.
When I was deciding whether or not to accept my placement and come to Spain, I cried every day for a week. I had no idea what to do, but even now to write it, I know it's a lie. I knew I was going to come to Spain the second I saw the word "accepted" in the email. And that's why I was really crying. I was crying for the love I was sure to lose, the friends I wasn't going to see, and perhaps also lose due to distance, time apart, and differences, the family I wouldn't be able to be with and participate in, and everything else. I was crying because I was scared, doubtful, and so unsure if going was the right thing to do. But now, time has proved what we all already knew: I had to come. I was meant to return. My wings have spread so far, and this is only the beginning.
Where once I was dreaming of wearing tight pencil skirts and heels as I walked to my corner office after parking my BWM, I now dream of Asia and a backpack, being dirty, unbathed, and unsure of where I'm going to sleep or wake up the next week. Instead of being consumed with the "need" to consume, I'm consumed with the need to travel, learn, grow, see, do, and help others. And in place of insecurity, complacency, and uncertainty, there are confidence, trust, faith in Christ that cannot be reconsidered, and strength. I might have come over here thinking it would shed some light on what I'm supposed to do with the rest of my life, while giving me a chance to travel and put off that Career Reality for a while, but instead, it's just shown me that there's so much more world to see, and I can't even begin to think of a career till I've seen it all! (Although I have received some clarity on what I want to dedicate my life to doing, so in a way, Mission Accomplished!) My next destination may be home, but that certainly doesn't mean the end of the adventure!
So, I'll see you soon, Cali, but in the meantime, I've got a lot of Spain left to explore! I'll do my best to bring you guys along on the adventure, but sometimes I get really caught up in The Now. With that said, bring on the travel! Bring on the adventure! And bring on the memories!
Our lives are never going to stop providing us with opportunities. Opportunities to grow, to change, to adapt, to explore, to conquer fear, to demolish strongholds, and to accomplish the life that feels right. I beg of you, don't remain where you aren't if you don't feel fulfilled. I know it can seem like there are nothing but closed doors surrounding you, but I promise, there are even more open windows! And when you silence your fear, tell your Ego to back off, and just let your heart and soul guide you, the way out will appear, it always does. Those ladders will make themselves known. Trust yourself, trust God, just trust, and let it happen. It might take time, it might not happen how you think it should/will, but there's so much going on on other levels, so don't worry about it. We have one chance to be alive, don't waste it being unhappy and unsatisfied. There is so much out there waiting for you, sometimes you just gotta make the first move!
I love you so, so much brothers and sisters of mine. God has put us all here together, at this time, in this place, and I am so grateful to be able to share the sphere with you. This little dot, swirling around in space, is our home, and I'm happy to be living with you, dancing around in the Milky Way all day.
We think you're magical, wonderful, and often more important, capable. I hope you believe it, and believe in yourself, as well.
Have an amazing weekend loves, do something that makes you smile, and share that radiant glow everywhere you go!
Blessings, Love & Light