Oh hell yes! On my way to Central and South America! Days on end of studying Spanish, and I’ll finally be put to the test. I’ve been anticipating this trip since last summer, well, since last winter here in Australia where it is now summer. Planning often turns out to be amongst the best things about travel. I’ve spent countless hours following tags for countries and cities I’ll be heading to, or not, depending on what I read. Which way to go? Mexico across Central America to Colombia, or the other way around? Airlines and tickets and busses and backpacks. But I’ve been stretching out my time in Melbourne for too long.
One should know when it’s time to go. When you are mouldering, and and not simply relaxing. When you wake up and can’t figure our why you should open your eyes and rev up. Time starts slipping past and nothing adheres to it. Definitely time to go when a few lines in the journal suffice to sum up the day. Spring turns to summer and days just meld into a hazy soup. Feet and soul become leaden. It’s time to fly away.
I read recently about the syndrome, or at least propensity, soldiers get for excitement and danger in exotic places after a few tours of duty. The adrenaline, the rush, the clarity of leaving all the mundane behind and heading off for adventure becomes a necessity. Real life is a weighty thing. Relationships and responsibilities feel heavy and unrewarding. Of course, these are the things that make “a life”, but for some of us, 30,000 ft. feels like a proper distance. (Why people bring electronics and work on a flights confuses me, 30,000 ft is a free space). Actually, just being in an airport feels weightless to me.
My life for some time has revolved around the syncopation of semesters and holidays. And mid-term breaks, of course. Once I’m in the air, there is no more grading and meetings with students, no more lesson prep and syllabus design. I’ve been careful that way. My grades are submitted before I go. The rest, if not already done, will wait till I return. Most people leave their jobs and go home on weekends and holidays to a separate life (at least it used to be and ought to be that way). Academia subsumes everything. If you aren’t literally planning and grading, your mind is working on it, pretty much 7 days a week. If I have an oppressive dream, it is of being late for class and being unprepared. To finish a semester’s work, the grades finished, and everything wrapped up, and go to the airport was a huge relief. To be going someplace new and challenging made the semester evaporate for a few liminal weeks or even months of suspended “real life.”
Now I’m ready to go again. A week from tomorrow I’ll head back to the US, and then a week or so after that, I’ll be off to Medellin, via Miami. Finally that frisson of the open ended and unexpected wakes me up and keeps me moving towards that flight next week. I’m heading to a new city in a new country on a new continent. The nervousness and expectation is deliciously disconcerting.