August 14/15. 2015
I’m on the plane and just woke up from a four hour nap. I have to ask the rude French lady sitting next to me to let me out (again) to use the restroom. I’m really not feeling well. A mixture of nausea and dizziness are slowly taking over my being and I’m not quite sure how to subside it. Breathing exercises and small sips of water will have to help for the time being. I can do this. I got this.
I’ve already traveled twelve hours total and I have four more to go- a four hour flight from San Francisco to Chicago, a four hour layover and another eight hour flight from Chicago to Madrid. I will lose a day in travel and am about to experience what “jet lag” really means. We are slated to arrive at 6:30 AM. I won’t be able to check in to my hostel until 2 PM, but they will stow my bags for me at any time which is great. I will just go- I don’t know- sleep in a park? I guess I am really going to embrace the “nomadic lifestyle” after all.
I find a way to relax in my seat against the window clutching my pillow for dear life. I fall asleep again (thank you God!). I wake up again at 5 AM local time and my heart is pounding. The nausea has returned with vengeance. Breathe, Heather, breathe, You got this. I look back to see if the line is long for the bathroom. Of course it is. I tell myself it will be okay. There’s only an hour and a half left until we get there, and then I will be in Spain for God’s sake! Just hold it together, Heather.
About thirty or forty minutes go by and the pilot lights the seatbelt cue and announces we will begin our descent. This is it. I made it. I’m here! Me, the all-too-comfortable homebody, spoiled girl has made it all the way to Spain with her backpack! I feel…excited? Nervous, I think. Yes, I am very nervous. I have butterflies everywhere. This is such a foreign feeling. Maybe this is bad. The fear keeps creeping in. Oh my gosh. What have I done? Did I really need to take it this far? Couldn’t I have just kept this trip to a three week vacation and return to my comfortable lifestyle? Did I just ruin everything?
The cabin pressure changes, then, and I know what’s coming next. We are making our final descent. I can’t hold it in anymore. Oh no, oh no, oh no! My poor French lady neighbor next to me is going to witness this. That’s it. I think anxiety is throwing me into panic mode. I throw up and can’t stop into the airplane barf bag- never thought I would actually use that thing. I’m freezing cold now and I can’t see straight. People are staring and I can’t stop getting sick. This is by far the worst thing that could possibly happen right now- aside from the plane crashing, I suppose. Geez, I am irrational right now. I am sick, tired and- did I say irrational? And full of fear.
What will I do when we land? Who will help me? WILL anyone help me? I am so far away from home now and I am all alone. The tears start to fall in obscene amounts and I can’t make them stop. I think I am just now feeling the effects of what I have just done. There’s no going back now. I am in it to win it- except right now I am completely losing it.
The pilot lands and everyone deplanes. I stay in my seat until I am told it’s time to go. “Get up Heather” I say to myself outloud. You got this, you got this. I am officially my own cheerleader. Walking slower than I have ever walked in my life, I make my way through the Madrid airport, through customs and over to baggage claim. I convince myself I can lift my way-too-heavy backpack and force myself to hold in anymore sickness until I get outside. I find a cab (the driver doesn’t speak English) and tell him to take me to 22 Sagasta where my hostel is.
As I am sitting in the cab, breathing heavy, heart still pounding, and full of nerves, I start to be able to actually see straight. I open my eyes- to not just the problem I am facing but to the environment around me. Old buildings with statues out front and fountains everywhere surround me. Cobblestone streets and hand-painted walls steal my attention. The air blowing in the backseat through window feels different than the air back home and I am instantly falling in love with Spain. It is at this moment I realize I am free. I may be sick and tired and scared as hell, but you know what? I made it and I am free and I know I will get through this and everything is going to be just fine. The worst is over and it can only get better from here on out. No amount of temporary discomfort could keep me from this place. I know this now. My body will recover now because my mind has been reset. The fear turned into lust and lust turned into love- all within an hour. I am in love with this new place, this new me and I know it will be just fine. Great even. I left my anxiety in the cab and got out.
Adios California. Hola Espana! Bring it on. (There’s that cheerleader coming out again.)