30 Dec a place on the map
A friend of mine calls it itchy feet… that feeling he gets when it’s time to go Walkabout. It’s a restlessness that begins in the heart and metastasizes throughout the soul. A niggling thought that if left ignored, can become a major distraction. I have itchy feet! I have a wanderer’s heart, a deep love of travel, and I’m always thinking of where to go next. I’m not brave though. Not yet. I stick pretty close to the paved roads and still enjoy some comforts from home… like air conditioning. I do love my air conditioning.
One day, I might be braver. I might just abandon all of the norms and blaze a trail like a true adventurer. I’m still learning to be brave. It takes a certain amount of skill, planning, courage, and determination to truly immerse oneself in a new place, more so if it’s foreign. The rewards for doing so are intensely gratifying, so I’ve heard. One day, I’ll be that brave. Right now, I’m still getting my feet wet.
Last year, my son ‘left’ – if you’ve been reading the blog, you know this is what prompted me to start writing. My tether to this earth snapped in a moment and for the last 18 months I have been trying to find my place, my purpose, my path. My sister has been a huge source of comfort and inspiration during this time. She is a world traveler and soul searcher and writer and dreamer. When time split in two, she dropped everything and flew to be with me and so began our new relationship as friends and co-encouragers.
She introduced me to a little piece of heaven on earth, a sanctuary for my pulpy, mushy, bleeding heart. Playa del Carmen, a beautiful slice of healing pie for a girl who was hungry for help. I spent some time with my sister and brother-of-sorts getting to know the area, meeting some new friends they had made here, and diving deep into some discussions about life and death and coffee and croissants. They tolerated my frequent crying jags, and I tolerated their car’s air-con constantly leaking on my feet. (I wanted to mention that I also tolerated Tyrhone’s inability to parallel park but it hardly seems relevant…hardly.)
I love this little town mostly because it’s lovable, but probably also because it was a huge part of my healing journey. It was my little escape. I came back again a few months later to spend Christmas with Sis and BOS, and now again by myself for a third time. I needed to be here for Christmas and ‘away’ from everything else. You get that, right? It just seemed overwhelming to try to stick it out in Vegas when all I wanted to do was feel the sunshine on my skin and stare at the Caribbean waters. So I left. I came here. My little healing hole in the wall.
I get scared sometimes. It’s a new feeling. I am more accustomed to being confident. In control. In charge. I no longer feel that way and instead, I feel more fear than I ever have. I’m not sure why that is. I have nothing to fear. No one to protect. It’s just me… but I think that is what I fear the most. It’s really just me. Seems like that should be a liberating feeling, but it’s not. Seems like that should be a relief, but it isn’t. It’s a strange thing to face a fear you never knew you had. Am I really afraid to be alone? I’m not afraid when I’m alone. I actually crave alone time. I love being around people and then when I’m done, I’m really done. I need some solitude to recharge my batteries.
So what is this new fear? I don’t get it.
I was afraid to take the ADO bus from Cancun to Playa. Silly, huh? I kept repeating to myself, “You can do this. You can do this.” My Spanish is pretty decent and I managed to find the buses, purchase my ticket, and navigate my way to PDC all by my widdle self. I make it sound silly now, but I really was afraid. I cried all night the first night I was here. The air conditioning didn’t work and the place was a real dump. I cried because I wasn’t tough enough to live without a/c. I cried because the toilet was dirty and there was a huge fish tank and I actually had to feed the fish. That wasn’t part of the deal. I cried because I was alone. Granted, it was self-imposed, but I still cried. I cried because here I was in this beautiful place and I had no plan for what I was going to do with my days. I felt like I had messed up everything important in life and I couldn’t even travel right.
In the morning came Perspective and I realized I was going to be okay. Everything was going to be okay. I found a new place to stay with working air conditioning. Priority #1. I threw all of my dirty, tear-filled, snot-soaked tissues in the garbage, fed the fish, and marched off to get a coffee at my favorite little coffee shop. I knew how to do that. I moved to my new hotel, hailed a cab, checked in, exchanged money, and trudged down to the beach, fueled by determination and caffeine. I can do hard things.
There I was, in the place I loved, in a comfy chair with an umbrella overhead, staring at the ocean I so desperately needed to see. I did it. Without a plan and with a whole bunch of fear and self-doubt, I did it. I can do ALL things.
Fast forward to now, today. I’m all packed up and ready to hail a taxi to get me and my fat suitcase to the ADO bus station for the long trek back to the airport in the next town over. I’m nervous… will there be a taxi? Or will I have to schlep my suitcase the whole distance and sweat into my travel clothes? :0) It’s okay either way. I’ve realized that I can do it. I know where to go. I purchased my ticket last night. I’m all set, even if I do show up sweaty and a little bent… I still haven’t figured out this new fear, but this week was good for me.
Goodbye, Playa, my little place on the map. I already miss your smells, your rough roads, and your delicious arracherra. I miss the white sands of your beaches and the never-ending construction as you grow-grow-grow. I miss the nicknames your salesmen have called out to me as I walk by, and the salsa that burned my mouth and made me crave more. I miss the jungle that grows to the very edge of the road, and the geckos that call out with voices 47 times bigger than the bodies that carry them. I miss the crisp, cool sheets of my bed and the amazing and oh-so-necessary air conditioning of my room. I miss the music, everywhere, but I’m taking it allllllll with me.
I wonder where I will wander next. One day, I might be braver.