“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
My finger etches anxious lines on the trackpad of my laptop, my mouse dancing in circles around the SUBMIT button. I want to go on this trip, I have been thinking, talking, planning, dreaming about this for years. I have always deferred to a job, a boyfriend, a house, the possibility of a swell window at my favorite surf spot, the potential for snow. It’s easy to find one million reasons why not to go. But lately I’ve been thinking about one good reason why I should go. It’s hard to define exactly what it is; but it’s something tangible that lives between my heart and my stomach.
Years ago, I was climbing a mango tree in El Salvador and I got stuck in the high branches. A man ran out of his house to help me get down. I offered him money and he refused. He looked at me like I was crazy. He climbed out to the end of the highest branch of the mango tree, filled a bag with mangos, and handed it to me. His son showed me how to throw rocks at the mangos to make them fall to the ground. The man invited me into his hut, made out of corrugated tin. His wife rose from her hammock and gestured that I should sit there. His son offered me crabs that they were eating from a bucket. He pointed to the crabs and said “cangrejos” until I repeated it back to him, making a game of teaching me Spanish. I have never forgotten the glow of their simple happiness and warm embrace.
There is something unfolding inside of me, a seed of longing that this memory permeates like drops of rain. I want to tear down everything that I have built and give the sprout room to grow.
But still. It’s hard to let go. So every night I look at flights, window shopping for a ticket to a new segment of my life. Trying on itineraries. I take screen shots with sticky fingers, trying to appease my hunger with chocolate and ice cream, an intermission between online Spanish lessons and comedians on Netflix. I paddle, I pull back. Something is wilting inside of me.
One day I ride down to the cliff to look at the waves and practice Spanish with some friends. They offer me chips, salsa, beer, and a bottle of water. They teach me how to say “Guey” which means stupid ox but is apparently what you are supposed to call a friend. I laugh and joke with them and tell them in broken Spanish that I want to fly to Costa Rica this spring and travel throughout Central America and Mexico by bus, surfing and learning Spanish. The sun is shining and I throw back my head, happy, eyes smiling, alive in that moment, myself in my skin.
Most nights I am plagued by nightmares. Sometimes I write them down in the mornings, hoping to get to the bottom of the affliction. But shedding light on these demons seems to strengthen their voices. So I have learned to wake up and swallow them down with my coffee.
The next morning I wake up with calm clarity and see the sun shining through the window. Something is waking up inside of me. I am ready.
San Francisco, California to San Jose, Costa Rica, departing on March 31. One way. SUBMIT.