Spilling My Cookies

It hit me yesterday morning when I woke up in a cold sweat at 2am that I was going to Cuba in 3 days and wanted to spill my cookies immediately.

This happens before every trip I take.  I tend to freak out and convince myself I’ve made a huge mistake every single time I get on a plane, so I know to ignore it and try to chill out.  But the panic came a few days earlier than it normally would have.

Maybe it’s because my coworker told me to bring my own toilet paper and the bathroom situation is rough.  I haven’t ever been to a communist country before, so the changes are going to be vast compared to my European and Aussie travels where I could hop on WIFI and communicate fairly regularly if needed.

Maybe it’s because I decided to learn as much Spanish on Duolingo as I could and now my Spanish skills basically include me saying useless things like, “The spider eats the penguin,” which I am praying is a phrase based on the vocabulary I knew at the time and not a real situation that comes up in life.

Or maybe it’s because I’m rusty on my traveling.

It’s a weird thing to say because I have done nothing but travel this year.  But it’s been through the US.  I know what I’m getting into.  I have data and texts/calls on my phone so I can get a hold of anyone, and talk to Siri while I’m driving and she’s taking me down some road I’m convinced is wrong.

Taking a trip to a place that is a timewarp to the 1960’s is a massive part of the appeal for me in Havana.  But knowing that comes with traveling limitations will be new as well.

I used to travel to Europe a few times a year.  Nothing makes me feel more like myself than being in total culture shock.  Some people freeze up.  I thrive.  It’s a weird thing to love, but knowing how other people live on other parts of the globe is amazing to me.

But I haven’t done that in two years now.  I moved to Seattle and that meant more US travel for me and less “out of the comfort zone” travel, unless Kansas and Utah count as that.

I woke up in a panic, ready to vomit, thinking maybe I’m too old to keep up with this.  There was something to being young and spry that made me fearless.  Then I remembered that I’ve never done anything but harbor fear before every trip.

The unknown is scary.  No matter how many books I read or how long I have wanted to go to a place, it doesn’t matter.  I’m naturally anxious until I get there.  And once I arrive I quickly realize everything is fine, and I love every second of it.

I always think back to my first trip every time something like this happens.  I went to France when I was 17 on a school trip.  I was with people who knew what was going on, everything was planned out, all I had to do was stay with the group.  I even took French so had a basic background in the language.  There was nothing to panic about.

But I freaked out.  I hated flying.  And I’d never been outside of the US.  The unknown is horrifying.

Then our flight got cancelled and I had to call my parents to pick me up from the airport.  I was convinced it was a sign I shouldn’t be going on the trip.  What was the universe trying to tell me?  Stay here.  Don’t do this scary thing.

But I woke up, got my ass on that plane the next day, and flew in with my stomach in knots for hours convinced I was never coming back alive and would never see my loved ones again.

The second I set foot in the city, I was in love.  All of my fear was gone, and I knew there wouldn’t be enough minutes in this trip to fulfill my thirst to explore this place.  It would never be enough.  On the plane ride home I was depressed, knowing a whole world was out there and I’d never see it all.  So I took out my journal, and at 17 planned where I was going to go on my next trip, and I would plan it myself and do exactly what I wanted.

Fast forward 4 years later and I took that trip with two of my friends in college.  Then I started traveling alone.  And it was horrifying every single time.  But it was a high that I’ve never gotten from anything else.

And it wasn’t always easy.  The nightmare that was the first few days of my life in Prague when I had the genius idea to move there for a month after college is one for the record books (if you haven’t heard the story, get a drink in me someday and I’ll tell you the series of unfortunate events that would seem fitting for a movie).

To say I was broken was an understatement.  I woke up the next day thinking that I didn’t know how I would get out of bed. I had to talk myself through every single step of getting ready for the day.  But I forced myself out of my apartment every day to have more difficult interactions and learned my full potential. And by the end, I actually enjoyed my time there, and I was a pro at making an ass of myself on a daily basis and feeling zero shame.  And I knew I would be fine traveling alone from that point on.

But there’s always that twinge of fear.  I suppose it keeps me honest.  It’s a hard thing, breaching your comfort zone.  More people have heard my travel stories and tell me how brave they think I am for getting out there.  I laugh every single time, because brave is not a word I would ever use to describe myself.  I’m terrified.  But I do it anyways.  I get there, and then the unknown is brought into light, and I realize that I didn’t actually have anything to be afraid of in the first place.

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2 thoughts on “Spilling My Cookies

  1. ‘Fear is pain leaving the body’ as Dad always said but you are speaking Of not fear but just worry about the unknown. Which is why none of us want to die…. we just don’t know what is next. You keep looking. And you are right i do not know how asking about spiders eating penguins will ever be helpful but it is intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

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