“Is this how it is supposed to feel? Am I supposed to be this afraid?” These questions echo through my head as I prepare for my first solo trip to Bali, Indonesia. What keeps me going is partially my mother who got dead ass pissed when I told her I was going alone and who thinks this is a really bad idea – and I just cannot let her be right; and partially the ridiculously cheap Balinese beer. I think about how my parents would feel if I actually do die on this trip, I think about how my ex would feel and all the ways in which I could haunt him, I think about titling this piece Oh God, What Have I Done, Oh God. A part of me is sure that something will go wrong, like I will forget my passport, or my flight will crash and we will all meet the Savior in Her own iconic way of a metal blazing fireball plummeting towards Earth at 1,090 mph.
I am terrified all the way from Abu Dhabi three days before, until I finally get to my hostel in Seminyak, get a beer at the bar, and light a cigarette as if I were an asthmatic getting a hold of an inhaler after sex. I don’t know what exactly I am scared of – maybe being alone. But that was the whole point. I am terrified of being alone, which is why I must go.
I firmly decided, even before, that being alone is a natural thing and that I shouldn’t be so afraid of it. I get too attached to things, to people; I create illusions of security and then get shattered apart when they are pulled out from under me. So this is the trip during which I learn how to be alone and how not to get attached. How to meet people and fall in love and say goodbye and just leave. This is flying without wings. This is bluffing at its finest, giving everything in, not knowing what to expect in return.
There is no one else at the beginning of this story, just me, hoping that this metaphorical blank page of life will help me find some creative freedom. What I find is that I could spend months like that, on the road, sitting at bars and smiling at strangers. What I find is how easy it is to fall in love people, and sunsets, and dirt under my fingernails. What I find is how I do not have a problem with walking away. I do not need this to be a big thing, this man caressing my back, or this girl I am calling a sister, or this sunlit café, or these fairy sunsets. What I find is small miracles, love in the moments, how these are the things that build us up and that we cherish in the end. How a three year relationship turns into heartache and regret and a three day affair turns into the closest I ever had, yet I am still ready to give it up.
We are so transfixed on the big things in life, the big job, the big love, the big opportunity. Things that start and change our lives and finally click everything into place – yet they never really do. My life has been centered on waiting for my big thing, and I go off in spirals thinking about that, trying to make everything into a big thing and ending up disappointed. The click happens when I am alone, just me, carrying tiny pieces of everyone I’ve ever met, every place I’ve ever seen, every moment I’ve ever fallen in love with. I realize, stepping across my blank page in Bali, on a trapeze without the safety – life is made up of small things, tiny moments that build my story day by day, page by page. Seeing everything around me, truly seeing it, without getting attached to anything. Letting it build out my life without letting it destroy it. Life hides in the small things, the small loves, the ones we know are not here to stay, yet still we kiss their necks and their fingers, say "I love you tonight, even though I won't know you tomorrow", and the next morning we smile and say goodbye.
Yes, I was terrified of travelling alone. But in the same way the writer is terrified of a blank page – knowing that it is up to me to fill it up. You never know what something is until you put it out of context. I am not claiming that I have “found myself” or anything like it. I am saying that if you want to get to know yourself, put yourself out of context, no safety net, no hand to hold – just you. Travelling alone is like jumping out of a plane without a parachute – and surviving. You will want to do it over and over again, and after a while you just might learn how to fly.