29 December 2008

Okay so the truth is...

I am terrified. I'm scared. I'm chicken shit quaking in my boots yellow bellied.
I'm all about a life of travel in that theoretical, first-date, sitting around with a glass of wine kind of life speculation way. But the fact is, when I really think about getting on a plane, scratch that: buying a ticket, my stomach gets all wobbly and my palms get clammy. I click through airline ticket sites endlessly. I run searches, ostensibly to get the best ticket price, but really so trying to buy enough time so that i can find something else to do that doesn't involve buying a ticket. I've updated my Facebook status more in the last week and a half than in two years.
Part of it is just my natural cheapskate tendencies that kick in whenever faced with spending more than $500 on ANYTHING. I get plenty of teasing from the friends in that department. But here's what the friends don't know. This time, it's not about the money, it's about the fear.
See, people have this crazy idea about me: That I'm brave, curious, and kind of wily. That my stubbornness and independent streak has got me out of more trouble than I can manage to get myself into. That somehow, like the proverbial cat, I always land on my feet. And most days, I'd buy that line. My life certainly has played out in a bit of a charmed fashion: I've pretty much gotten to do everything I've ever wanted - whether I knew wanted to or not at the time - and things have always turned out alright.
Except for this travel gig. Again ostensibly, I haven't traveled much (outside of work) yet because I've been working, in school, busy or waiting for the right travel partner. So now I'm tired of waiting. I've made the time. I've saved the money and I'm ready - even if I have to go it alone. Or so I think. Then that little voice in my head starts wondering why the heck I want to travel to a foreign country where people speak a different language; what I'm running away from; what the heck I'm looking for, and if there's really something there that I can't find here.
To be perfectly sensible, I'm going to Central America, not Uzbekistan. I'm only going for a couple of months. And I can speak enough Spanish as is to get by. What am I so afraid of? Maybe on a shallow level there are some of the basic issues around being a woman and traveling alone, and the newness of the whole expedition. But the bigger fears - the ones that wake me up at three in the morning - have nothing to do with physical safety.
This is one of those moments that I uncover my existentialist tendencies. It's not the worst things that can happen that I'm afraid of, or the best for that matter. It's the face that this, ultimately, my decision and everything that comes of this decision I am responsible for. That I can do this, or do not do this, but ultimately it's up to me. There's no one to twist my arm, or convince, or ask permission. Whatever I decide and whatever that means, it matters to and affects only me.
The freedom, and responsibility is simultaneously liberating and crushing.
I now have an intimate understanding of the word: angst.
Ultimately, the whole thing is an example of another existential buzz word: absurd.
No more splitting hairs. Time to pull the trigger.