Somewhere in the air between O’Hare and Philadelphia-
I’m sick from a feud of love and sadness battling for control of my body. I have a stomachache, but I’m hungry, my head hurts and I’m carrying a tension from my sacrum to my prevertebral fascia. I’m a bit woozy and almost plopped right over upon entering the airport. My initial symptoms were harmless—incessant speech and song—but the nausea struck me hard on arrival at O’Hare.
My mom and I arrived at the airport beyond two hours early so we sat outside security, watching the people and time. We said our goodbyes with excited smiles, then I dropped four salty tears when removing my shoes. Sitting at the terminal I dropped my head and more fell, so I went to the bathroom to cry completely and didn’t stop until a mess at the gate turned my sadness to frustration.
I had to check my carry-on bag before boarding because the ticket takers insisted the overhead compartments were full. They lied, and I know they’re going to lose it.
I forgot the iPod at home and feel exceptionally squirmish: a bit like bursting. I suppose it’s irrational to fret over a forgotten apparatus—especially after my recent attempts to live a way that deliberately dismisses such materialism: especially over a device that damages my sensitive tympanic membrane and hinders communication to the outer world but I’ve jetted off to a foreign place, to speak a foreign language, to act out a foreign concept (teaching), and my music represents the comfort of home…and I forgot it.
I’m forcing adventure upon myself for lack of a steady option. Yes, I’m excited to go abroad and embody the lifestyle of another culture—of all the wish lists I’ve created since age ten that’s one desire that hasn’t changed. I’m ecstatic, probably ready and pleased I took the steps that have allowed me to hyperventilate on this plane, but all the same I feel my internal workings shifting towards something else. I can’t explain this shift, but it’s in the way I sip tea and smile at dogs and babies. I don’t want to be here alone: I’d prefer be on this trip with another, working it out and laughing off our hopelesses together. I’m enjoying my freedom in these great endeavors but I’m tiring from my initial search for nothing in particular: I want now to find something.
I talked to that boy I value so highly before leaving. It was nice the way clean towels from the line are nice: nothing to obsess over but it merits an instinctual burrow and deep inhale, enjoying a moment of simple satisfaction. We talked in that nothing-to-worry-about way until the conversation’s end, when we knew things would be different amongst ourselves and between us by the time we’d speak again. He said Goodbye, Shannon and I followed the format. We address each other personally when we say things we mean.
Somewhere in the air between Philadelphia and Madrid
I got to Philadelphia and ordered a chicken sandwich; the man made me salad. I got on the next flight and asked for the pasta; she gave me chicken. Another stewardess asked me for my drink order; I said ginger ale. She turned away and asked me later what I’d like to drink as if she’d never seen me before. I bought headphones for $5 but they were broken and when I asked the lady for another set she said she’ll come back when she has time. I’m confident she won’t come back and I’m wondering if I exist today.
The tears rolled in the bathroom at airport-2; I have the inner consistency of an egg. Sitting on the toilet with my head in my hands, I heard another woman losing composure and I didn’t feel so alone in my questionable existence.
Best feeling ever- she came back with new headphones.
Madrid, the next day-
They lost my bag.
The estacion de autobuses-
I suppose I’m very far away from home and I imagine I’m going to miss my friends and family quite a lot. I met another girl from Canada who will be teaching with me in town. I don’t think she likes me.
El Burgo de Osma- 10pm Spain time, 2pm Midwest time
Cathy, an English teacher at the school, picked us up from the bus station in her beat up truck with one creamy layer of dust covering the interior. I ducked down in the middle seat, pretending there was a seat, because la policia has it out for her car. (Originally a farm girl from Washington, she likes to park it in non-parking spots.) She brought us back to her big, windowed house on top of a hill that she let her son design as his first architectural project. We were welcomed by her five adopted dogs and vegetable soup from her garden. I went to bed still in battles but sure of my reflection in the bedroom window.