In precisely 37 days and 19 hours, I will be stepping off the last plane of my journey into Sevilla, Spain.
In precisely 37 days and 19 hours, I will be stepping off a plane into my new life until June.
In precisely 37 days and 19 hours, I will be stepping off a plane and I will be alone.
It all sounds very dramatic and that last one, in particular, rather dark.
But it’s something I’ve had to come to terms with and ponder during my last month and a bit at home.
As I was homeschooled, I had independence but never fully. I always had my mom watching my back to make sure I didn’t become a juvenile delinquent. I always had my twin there to push me into working for the good grades I earned. My brother and I got our car at 16. I went to dance rehearsals on my own. I volunteered on my own. I traveled on my own (let’s talk about how my parents shipped me off to Mexico at 12). I had a steady part-time job that I loved. I wasn’t a part of an (incredibly incorrect) stereotype in the vein of unsocialized homeschoolers. But I was never truly alone or independent.
When I entered college, I thought that that would be the time to prove that, at 18, I was an independent woman and I would indeed make it on my own (ha. haha. Someone please go back in time and whack me upside the head for my hubris). I had a full-ride scholarship. I had my own apartment. I went to class without being forced to. I got good (even excellent) grades and high praise from professors.
But then one break up happened. And several months later, the next break up happened. And then the class taught by a professor with an ugly chip on her shoulder happened. And friend problems happened. And I realized that I was still not truly independent and alone. I had a support system. I had my other friends to lift me up. I had my parents there to make me cookies. I had my posse telling me how smart I was, how talented I was, how funny I was, how pretty I was, how ___ I was. I had people constantly consoling me after each failure, offering advice or gentle criticism. I could have three hour conversations with my mentor on Sunday afternoons.
In 37 days and 19 hours, my safety net disappears. It will be wiped off the map. Gone for six months until I’m reunited with my mom in Spain.
Oh sure. I’ll have Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Skype. All these (admittedly wonderfully useful) bits of technology.
But a brief Facebook post to my timeline is no substitute for hugging someone in a hall on campus.
A Skype call is no substitute for snagging a coveted armchair at the ‘Bux and chatting away until it gets dark.
A text conversation is no substitute for eating ice cream and cookies at two in the morning and discussing Disney songs with your best friend.
Liking a friend’s Instagram picture on the day of graduation is no substitute for being there to squeal and have celebratory dinners together.
In 37 days and 19 hours, I will be immersed a culture I don’t instinctively understand.
In 37 days and 19 hours, I will be speaking a language 24/7 that I know half as well as the one I’ve been learning since birth.
In 37 days and 19 hours, my comfort zone not only diminishes, it completely evaporates, and I will be completely independent.
And that’s how it should be.
There is nothing comfortable about the fact that I will step off the plane and know absolutely no one in my new city. All I will know of the family I will live with for six months are their names, ages, and home address.
There is nothing comfortable about the fact that I’ve spent 20+ years learning how to speak English properly, and for six months, will instead spend a concentrated effort trying to forget all of it so that I can fill my head with how to speak Spanish properly.
There is nothing comfortable about the basic, but still harrowing, fact that I will be taking public transportation to school for the first time in my life.
In 37 days and 19 hours, there is going to be nothing comfortable about the next six months of my life.
In 37 days and 19 hours, I will unpack the most important pieces of my life from two suitcases and a carry on and fit them into a room that will, sooner rather than later, feel like mine, but isn’t yet.
In 37 days and 19 hours, I will try to make up for the fact that my new host family’s first impression of me will be of the cranky, sleep-deprived, teary-eyed persona that inhabits my body after 24+ hours of travel and the remnant memories of saying goodbye to friends and my family.
In 37 days and 19 hours, I will desperately attempt to not look at my friends’ “first day of the semester” posts, knowing that this is the first time since middle school that I haven’t been copying them.
In 37 days and 19 hours (and before), I will pray. A lot. And then more until it’s really overkill and God probably is like “Shove paella in her mouth already” except He would never do that because He’s cool like that. (But really, God. Send the paella. ALL THE PAELLA).
My introduction into the real world will come not with a whimper, but with a bang.
I believe we are all given an adventure in life.
My adventure is different than yours. It’s different than your brother’s adventure. It’s different than your best friend’s cousin’s adventure.
Adventures take different forms. They involve different people and places, dates and lengths. They vary in scope and sequence. They could be used to change you or just to bolster up the qualities that need a little positive nudge in the right direction. Sometimes adventures bring people into your life at the right moment, sometimes they bring you into someone else’s.
My adventure starts in 37 days and 19 hours.
When does yours?