In 1999 I moved to England. I was 19, a junior in college who had never left the United States before. My passport was stiff and shiny, waiting for it's very first stamp to be laid. I was leaving quite a tumultuous family situation, a boyfriend, and all of my best friends behind, with only a few hundred dollars saved (living off of student loans and some scholarships). I had two duffle bags and knew not a soul in the UK.
It's almost hard to recall now what force was driving me so hard, but I was absolutely determined to live abroad despite the many blatant reasons I could've stayed.
Granted, I was only 19 with nothing to lose, but it still was most definitely a leap of faith. Some may have called me naive to assume it would all work out the way it did. In fact, it turned out to be an incredible journey of self-discovery, of change, of realization, of overcoming fear and doubt. It was an adventure like those you read about: young, wide-eyed girl leaves all she knows to travel and study in Europe with $100 and a back pack only to discover herself in the process.
That year abroad changed the course of my life and has undoubtedly played a role in who and where I am today.
Yesterday, my husband and I bought tickets to London. I was (literally) shaking with nerves and sick to my stomach, we bit the bullet. I actually handed him my computer and made him physically push the PURCHASE button, which he did wholeheartedly and with a little jig while I half-cried, half-laughed.
In the end of June, we'll leave our two babies in Antigua with family and we'll travel alone for 10 days, returning to the place where I grew into a new person, to attend one of my best friend's weddings, to stay (for free!) in a rooftop apartment in North London, and to recall what it means to be a couple without the immediate presence of our two kids. It is so equally exciting and nerve-wracking, I could explode.
There are many mixed emotions to identify right now, mostly concern about finances, gratitude that I'll see so many old friends, deep and real anxiety about flying so far away from my 4 and 1 year old's for twice the amount of time I've ever left them before, relief that I'll have free time to be with my husband and to sleep in, shock that it's all actually happening.
I think the overarching emotion though has to do with that precise feeling of THRILL that all of us feel when we listen to our heart and just seize the day, despite the many logical and practical reasons that we can think of to instead do what's expected, what's "smart".
Here I am, 37 years old once again taking a leap of faith. I'm sure many will call me naive or dare I say it, irresponsible, but I see it as a bold choice to LIVE my life. Yes, we found a really good deal on tickets, yes we have family to watch our kids, and yes we actually have free accommodations so in many ways we've really truly lucked out. But still, I could have made a list 10 pages long of all the reasons that we shouldn't go but I essentially crumpled those pages up and tossed them aside. There's no looking back now. I've gone ahead and looked past my fears in order to make my future self a better, more fulfilled person.
Can you recall a time when you were teetering on the edge of an adventure and you actually decided to follow through with it? When you "pulled the trigger" and followed your heart? Do you remember that rush? That feeling of freedom, the sense of accomplishment? Remember how you made it home in one piece and it's now one of your fondest memories?
Perhaps it's time to give it another go?
*photos via Instagram: @angrybaker @hairventures and @magspangeni
A couple of photos below of some lucky Luna Zorro items that made the trip!