In between the staccato voice of the announcer, in between the different languages (of which I only understand English), there is the absolute tiredness that comes from being up for twenty-six hours straight, and the sheer joy of lifting away from the ground, the green of London falling behind, and blinding white clouds laid out like a rollicking, frothy sea. I have never seen the lush greens that encircle London. I thought New England was green when viewed from the air, but the green here bleeds into the waters where it’s a paler green. I have traveled internationally now. I have moved beyond the shelter of Massachusetts, out of the comfort of New England, out of the bubble of the United States.
To say spending three hours in London Gatwick Airport now classifies me as an international traveler is to take things just a bit too far, wouldn’t you say? Yet, at the tender and ripe age of thirty-nine, this is the first journey I have taken across the ocean and into unknown territories. I have traversed many a journey in my lifetime, but they all spanned interior spaces and the shattering of long-held beliefs. I have journeyed into different professions, different personas, different parts of my own country. They served their purpose back then. Now, my purpose is to be humble, soak in other cultures, and come away with different perspectives that I had never considered.
Perhaps I am making a bigger deal of this than I should. It’s just a plane ride across the Atlantic, is it not? Honestly, what is remarkable about it? It is a big deal for me now. After a dozen crossings and thousands of miles by plane, train, and feet, it will become old hat. Then again, the naivety and gaiety of my personality haven’t been displaced in all my years on this earth; I still find ridiculous joy in Christmas mornings, in a lingering glance from a good-looking man, playing tug-of-war with my pug. I still cry easily at sad, sappy commercials; tears come quickly and plentifully. My emotions are forever on my sleeve, and there is usually ease in expressing the rawness of whatever emotion is in my heart and soul at any time.
This past Friday, I went out with a coworker who is a logical creature. She admits to weighing the pros and cons of each decision. It is difficult to ascertain how she feels about one thing or another. Another coworker, from years ago, kept an even keel. Never too excited, never too sad. The decisions he made made little difference one way or the other because it was never too much or too little.
What about me, you ask? I am an emotional creature. I am a plane in the midst of a turbulent sky (it so happens we are experiencing such turbulence right at this moment, and I feel like I’m going to lose my breakfast; have I mentioned I’m a bit fearful of flying?). My feelings run scalding hot to bitter cold, full and robust to flat and feeble. You will always know how I feel and where I’m coming from. This is both lovely and horrendous. This fact was brought up as an issue I needed to improve upon during last year’s annual review (“You’re a manager, Nicole. You can’t wear your heart on your sleeve.”—I don’t disagree but fuck it’s hard to rein those feelings in).
So, while this trip may be a hum-drum, been-there-done-that for many people, even for those that are experiencing it for the first time, these emotions run quick and deep in me. I feel the weightiness of this moment while I am in it. I can understand the significance it represents to me. I am no longer scared of the world (or, if I still am, then I have chosen to experience it in spite, or because, of that fear). I am opening myself up, becoming vulnerable, learning to live with an imperfect me, smelling like twenty-six hours of plane air and a face grimed with airport foulness.
As I wrote yesterday (was it yesterday? The days feel off right now), I am learning to flow through the fuck-ups. And I am going to fuck up so much more. I will misstep and say the wrong thing and be too honest and love the wrong man and worry that I’m not good enough. This will not stop me. This will not prevent me from living a more full life.