in this hour, fourteen days from now I will be settling in for a transatlantic flight of grand proportion spanning two continents and multiple time zones en route to India. India the land of contrasts, of color, of spiritual lightness of being. i can't remember when I lit upon this idea of traveling this far east, of adding this country to my travel list. my earliest recollection is caught in a haze of literature, Bollywood films and basement bhangra. I remember when i penguini would get together and talk about travel Kristin and I would project our future on the streets of Mumbai, taking trains cross-country to Goa, swimming in the Arabian sea.
Every moment in our lives informs and guides us toward our future. Who would have known that a friendship forged on the dance floor at a holiday party would result in my visiting India just a few years later? It all begins with Addu. If she were a color, I wouldn't be able to choose just one and instead envision a prism of lights, a rainbow spectrum. Smart, carefree, focused, trusting and doggishly determined in her accomplishments, just last year she competed in a triathlon here in NYC--biking, running, swimming the East River. Her vibrancy, bearing witness to its vividity has offered perspective on how I might live life differently. It was she, along with Claire-bear, who encouraged me to participate in our company talent show. And it is through her friendship that life has taken on a different sheen, has been enriched in ways I cannot even articulate and some of which are still percolating.
After meeting her mom this past summer, it all became clear. A strong soul is born out of necessity and sometimes gifted by blood. If nurtured correctly, it thrives a boundless spirit. I could see after spending time with the Arunkumar's that goodness was inherent in the family lineage. I was honored and charmed when Addu extended the invitation attend her younger sister's wedding. It was like a dream awakened, and these last few months I have seen a metamorphosis of self evolving in anticipation of this voyage.
In mentioning my plans to friends and strangers, the responses have run the gamut from wonder and glee to disgust and outrage. I've been told on more than one occasion that it will be a life altering experience--almost always with the question mark lingering, as if I didn't realize what I was getting myself into. Of course it will be a life-changing experience, I am counting on it being a positive and rewarding one. No one travels halfway across the world to a place so utterly foreign with the unabashed notion that they won't be affected by the journey. Or maybe they do? I don't know, maybe they do. I have no expectations other than the excitement of being immersed in Indian life during a celebration for Addu's sister. I've taken the necessary medical precautions, including vaccinations and preventative care (typhoid, polio, malaria, hep-a, cipro, ambien). I've coordinated my visa, health and travel insurance. I've decided to release the reins on my life, grab a suitcase half-filled with clothes and my camera and let go.
Thirteen was Mom's favorite and lucky number. For her there was nothing more glorious and self-defining as the number thirteen. She often wore a gold-plated #13 charm she found just outside our house. An omen or homage of sorts. For awhile she wore it with the medal honoring St. Lucia, her namesake.
2013. Change. Yes I can feel it coming. Lately I have found myself feeling tremors, and maybe one might call it subtle seismic shift. Its an unsettling with equal parts nervousness, fear and excitement. And during these days I really wish I had someone to talk to, someone who really gets me. Someone who understands my head and will not think twice about calling me out on my shit, forcing me to answer to myself. You know who I mean, we all have (or have had) that person in our lives. I feel like I am that person for many but no one has been that person for me, not in a long while.
It makes it difficult to quiet the crazy-talk, and easier to slip beneath the murkiness of indecision. It would be nice to have a champion to guide me towards the next phase of my life. I don't mean lead me, I know I have to get there on my own but in those moments of doubt to help me to remember everything that I've accomplished, all who I've come to be. When I pause to think of who I want that person to be, I feel a sharp pang and I have to catch my breath. It's a bevel that cuts through my psyche, awakens the siren and the beast. I won't deny that at this point in my life I thought I would have a partner to lean on, someone to comfort me when the dull ache of life temporarily blindsides you and leads you sideways into a spiral of emotions over what comes next. Inevitably in these moments I conjure my mom when her absence is felt the greatest. I can go months without realizing she is not here, and in one instant am painfully cognizant that I am missing something, someone, that I am an island.