The day of

The day of

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? IMG_0829I 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.)

By |2015-08-22T11:44:44+00:00August 22nd, 2015|Dear Diary, Inspiration, Overcoming Fear|0 Comments

About the Author:

On August 14th, 2015 I left my life in the United States behind with the intention to never look back. I had the "American Dream" and I woke up from it, to create a new reality for myself. I sought out beauty in a world that was increasingly dark for me at the time and ended up finding more than I bargained for. With only a backpack, I traveled across Europe, South East Asia and then on to Africa. With over 30 countries stamped in my passport, I've become an entirely new version of myself with a broader perspective on what it means to be a woman in today's world. My hope is that by sharing my stories and featuring women like me from around the world, we can inspire others to break down their own internal barriers and go cross a few international borders while they're at it. I truly believe travel can be healing to a troubled soul, empowering to the lost and rejuvenating for the exhausted. Perspective is everything, and I believe in the power of "going global," what about you? is a site that started out with my stories and grew into a platform for women all around the world to tell their travel tales of trials and triumph. We all believe that the more you see of the world, the better you can be as a person who inhabits it. Women encouraging other women to grow, travel, evolve- that's what SGG is all about. ---> Read my very first blog post (see "Archives" for August 2015) to learn how this all began.

No Comments

  1. Bill Ditmars August 22, 2015 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    You started out rough on this trip but before you know it you will be an “Old Salt” and during this process you will create memories that will endure throughout your life time. Be safe and have fun!

  2. Vanessa Hartley August 23, 2015 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    I’m so proud of you! Xoxo

  3. The Pillow  | She Goes Global March 4, 2016 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    […] pillow has been with me since that first trying flight out of the US, and I’m not about to part with it now.  It has seen me through thick and thin. […]

  4. […] FIRST EVER international flight was last year August 14th, and it was one-way to Spain with only my backpack.  All in or nothing, I guess, right?! […]

  5. […] lived in an impenetrable bubble, but I did not realize the extent to which it placates them- until I left the bubble myself, only to return and experience reverse culture shock.  I’ve returned with an international […]

  6. […] week marks the two year anniversary of the day I left the states on a one-way ticket to freedom. It feels surreal to be celebrating this day two whole years later, […]

  7. […] a new leg of my round-the-world journey. I felt more excited than nervous this time and had zero panic attacks landing abroad, like that first time two years ago in Madrid (Anyone remember? Good Lawd, what a […]

  8. […] are also explorers and adventures.  Seekers and finders.  The second I got on that first flight, I joined the hopeful seekers and left the hopelessness behind.  It’s this seeking […]

  9. […] didn’t start out eager to date anyone AT ALL when my travels began.  I remember when I first left the states, I was kind of a “man hater” and adamant […]

Leave A Comment