State of the Traveler, State of the Girl

One of Tony’s (my ex’s) favorite sayings has always been, “All I know is that I know nothing.” Right now, I’m trying to collect all that I do know and make some sense of it.

So here’s what I do know:

This is my last day as a 26 year old woman. I still hesitate at using the word woman to refer to myself and am pretty sure I always will. I’m currently in Chicago. I’m terrified and my heart is beating incredibly fast in my chest. I’m scared of the future even though I know that I technically shouldn’t. I’m trying to make my dreams of traveling and writing come true even though I feel extreme guilt about leaving my family behind… In fact, I feel guilt about not looking for a “real job” and helping out around the house instead. Considering I was the only person with regular employment in my family for the past year, it feels extra selfish to do what I’m doing and I struggle with this every day, to the point that I oftentimes try to forget home all together because it hurts like hell to think about it. I have less than $50 to my name right now and am living on the kindness of friends and strangers. I feel guilt about this too, even though I fully intend to pay everyone back somehow. I’ve been irresponsible in a lot of ways, but I don’t actually regret it even though I feel like people look at me as though I should.

I’m trying to figure things out, but the further I go on this trip, the more I keep finding out that no one really has it figured out. This is both comforting and terrifying because it only means that I have no idea when I should actually end or pause the trip. I’m trying to decide whether or not to move to Chicago. I’ve applied for a few jobs and part of me thinks I should just leave it up to fate to decide. I’ve got a few more days until I get my big paycheck, after which i’ll have to formulate a better plan.

I constantly struggle with my emotions. I worry that I’ll never find someone to make me as happy as I was with my ex. I worry that if I return to Miami, I’ll throw myself back in to his life and undo all the things I’ve worked hard to finally destroy. I get concerned that I’ll always be fickle and that I’ll never be able to focus on one person, either for fear of boredom or fear of being hurt, or both. I like a boy that lives in Philadelphia and I catch myself daydreaming about taking the next flight out to go be with him, but I fear that it won’t be the same as it was when we were in Ohio. I fear that he won’t like me enough, that he’ll get bored of me, or that he lies about what he says he feels. I fear that my feelings will fade, whether I go see him or not. I fear that nothing will ever be enough for me. I think about other boys in other places that I’ve left behind and all the messes that have been caused as a result. I fear that I am not a good person and that maybe I’m incapable of ever falling in love the way I’d like to. Mostly, I miss the feelings that were rising on that last night I spent with him in Athens, and the way my heart pounded the entire time he held my hand on the car ride to Columbus while we listened to comedians; how I laughed to mask just how sad and scared I was. And I really miss the way he kissed me, because it felt real for the first time in a long time.

I tell myself that I shouldn’t say his name, but it won’t make a difference to say his name is Adam; it will only make it that much more real.

I worry that I will never be an adult. I think about the word “adult” as some insane foreign concept, something, a status, a way of being to be discussed at a distance but never attained. I see my friends involved with their significant others, getting married, having children, and I don’t envy them in the slightest. I don’t want their lives. But I really, really secretly wish that they would all just stop and remember that we used to be children, that we could still run across fields and jump and laugh and smile and feel things. I want to tell them that we don’t have to go with the status quo and do what’s expected of us, that we can obtain real joy in the simple things that brought us such joy once upon a time. I want to hug them all and tell them that regardless, as much as it hurts to see them grow up and leave everything we once held so sacred behind, that I still love them, that I hope that they’re happy. And most of all, I want to tell them really badly that I’m just really going to miss them, because regardless of the lies we like to tell ourselves and each other, nothing will ever be the same again.

I think about my own family again. And my nieces, growing so fast and getting so big. I think about how they were almost never born, how the doctors said they would never make it. I think about the miracles, their births, things that made me believe that maybe something was watching out for us in those long and painful months when we anxiously awaited their arrival. I think about what might have happened if… but then I remember that I shouldn’t always be as candid about the details of other people’s lives, and I stop myself here.

I think about that asshole cab driver that assaulted me last Fall. I think about that night a lot more than I realize, a lot more than I care to admit. I think about the guilt I feel for letting myself get so drunk, and then for letting myself get so drunk again multiple times after that because all I ever want to do is forget and forget and forget. I remember feeling so sad and useless before he put his hand on my knee, and how paralyzed I felt when his hand moved further up, and how confused I was when he tried to get on top of me, and how I knew I had to leave but I couldn’t help myself. And how shitty it felt when I finally got out and tried to find ways to quickly turn the situation so that I could justify the night. I think about how I yelled at him and how I ran to my car and how I watched him go. I think about how much I cried. I think about how I huddled myself down by my driver’s side door, and how I couldn’t stop crying, and how I called Monica over and over again and how she wouldn’t answer her phone. I think about how I wanted nothing to do with anything. I think about the shame I felt in everything, about going to Jenn’s house the next day and hiding out. I think about how I went to Tony’s and hid for days and days and how I never wanted to leave because it felt like he was the only person in the world that could ever protect me from anything, about how he was the only person who could ever care about me or would ever care about me. I think about these things, and I wonder how I’m okay. I remember that I’m not really okay yet. I tell myself that this is just another reason why I have to travel.

And I think about Tony again and how it makes me sad that we couldn’t work things out. I think about the ways I wronged him and the ways we wronged each other and the things that were said and the things that never need to be said. I think about moving on, and how it’s finally getting easier, over a year later. I remember my birthday last year, being ridiculous and going to a club and making out with a boy I barely knew, some art school kid that was much too young for me, and how silly it all was. And how I threw up afterwards and felt like hell as always.

I think about the boy in Pittsburgh I wrote a long letter to even though I didn’t really know him. I figured he might understand but at this point I’m pretty sure he didn’t, and now I don’t even really care. I think again about how fickle I am. In the wind, in the wind.

I’m 26 and tomorrow I’ll be 27 and nothing will be drastically different. I’ve already been telling people that I’m 27, so it won’t make much of a difference. I think about all the things i’ve seen and done in my life. The people i’ve met. The people that i’ve been fascinated with. The people i’ve loved, really loved, and almost loved, and wanted so desperately to love. I think about everyone I lost. I remember my grandfather, who would be turning 83 this year if he were still alive. I remember my grandmother, who is still alive, but whom I haven’t spoken to in over a year. I think about the family I have in Nicaragua and how they screwed over my mother. I think about how sad it must be to have your entire family turn against you. I miss my mother and I remember her warmth. I think that I should call her, but I know I won’t because it’s so hard to hear her voice sometimes when it’s so far away. I wonder if that’s how she felt when she first came to the states.

I think about all the steps I’ve taken to get here. To this point. Being irresponsible to the world and only responsible to myself. I wonder about all the people that do the same. I wonder about other travel writers and bloggers and whether they’ve shirked what they were supposed to do in order to follow their dreams, or if they took more logical steps. I think about all my literary heroes, and how they just wouldn’t give a shit, how they wouldn’t worry about convention because it doesn’t matter anyway. I wonder if I would ever make anyone proud.

I hate that I haven’t finished writing a book yet. Any book. Any real concrete idea. But I feel like I’m on my way to great things. I have this hope inside of me that I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing, even if it gets rough and I get lonely every time the sun sets. I have this notion that good things are on the horizon even though there’s no real logical way to tell for sure, but I keep faith. Sometimes that’s all you’ve got to go by.

I think about what a different person I was 10 years ago, and how 16 year old me would have never guessed this was how I would turn out. It makes me smile to listen to this Modest Mouse song right now that 16 year old me would appreciate.

I know that this week I’ll be making some big decisions about a lot of things. I know that sometimes I get really tired and that I don’t want to keep going any further. I know that sometimes there’s absolutely no one around, and that the nights are darker, and that I’m further away than I’ve ever been from home, and that I’m only surrounded by strangers, and that this bed is too big for one person, and that this life is too hard. Because it really is too hard. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes wish for it to be easier, or at the very least, not as long lasting. But I’m tired and I don’t want to think about any of that. Thing will get better and easier. I will get a job. I will write. I will do my bidding. I will become incoherent as the nights get longer, as passages are drawn to a close.

And I will travel, because I want to see the world. I’ve always wanted to see the world. I always said that I would. So I’m on my way..

I am finally feeling comfortable in my life. I’ve stopped caring about the self-indulgent nature of this because this isn’t about anyone else but me. So screw it. Despite the difficulties, I’m having a ball.

Tomorrow I turn 27. I had no idea I would ever make it this far.

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