29 April 2012

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"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it."
-- Henry Ford


"YOU’RE GONNA DIE!"


"IF I WERE YOU I WOULD JUST CANCEL THE ENTIRE TRIP"


"MY FRIEND & HIS WIFE WENT AND HAD THE WORST TIME OF THEIR LIVES"


"I JUST HAVE THIS FEELING YOU’RE GOING DOWN THERE TO MEET SOME GUY OFF THE INTERNET"


Yes, all these statements were said to me. Verbatim. But this was not the beginning – nor the end – of the disbelief and dissuasion I faced in regard to traveling to Puerto Rico... solo. This chapter of my life started around July 2011, shortly after my mother & I returned from a three week vacation in Europe.

By God’s design I am a "next-er". I read about this term in a book [that I can’t even remember now] but it fits me perfectly. Meaning, I am always thinking about what to say, do, read, eat, and wear next. It’s true. When my ex-boyfriend and I decided to try dating each other again I barely even thought about the horrible things we had put each other through and the road to rebuilding our relationship. I was already busy nexting, wondering where we should rent an apartment.

Anyway, in July 2011 my mom found a two-for-one offer to The Galapagos Islands. The islands weren’t on our top ten list, but it was a bargain! And who doesn’t love a deal mixed with seeing the world? In the end we opted not to go, but the next seed was planted. I saved all my money & vacation time for Italy & Greece, and though that trip was history, my personal question remained: what would I strive for now?

My initial framework was to take a week-long vacation somewhere in this hemisphere since I had only earned two weeks vacation at my job. Furthermore, I did not want to break my piggy bank since the ultimate goal was (and still sort of is) to return to Australasia by the time I am thirty, and that’s not too far away!

I cannot recall how Puerto Rico’s name got thrown into the hat, especially since I had already spent a Memorial Day weekend in the capital years ago. However, I do remember the allure: there are just twelve bioluminescent bays in the world, and three flourish in the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Canada and Alaska were also places of interest being considered. They are home to mammoth glaciers, untouched wildlife and (definitely on my top ten list) the Aurora Borealis. Based on my math, I would have barely enough money to travel in March 2012 so it had to be one or the other.

Time passed and though I barely had money for Christmas presents, I refused to dip into my travel savings. As March crept closer, my grandmother fell ill which resulted in a week-long hospital stay, surgery, and more weeks of recovery. Her situation consumed both my mom’s and my time and energy. Suddenly it was time to make a decision about whether or not to trek to northern Canada (We ruled out Alaska. It was too far west). The timing, my lack of earned vacation days at my job, and the projected expense lead Mom & I to postpone our Canadian northern lights trip.

When Puerto Rico first conceptualized, my boyfriend (at the time) planned to go with me. Deep down I knew that was all talk because in the five years we had been together we had only traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, and he expressed little desire to visit anywhere outside the northeast region. We broke up in July 2011 and I started dating someone else. In nexting and conversing with my [new] boyfriend we decided to both budget for Puerto Rico in 2012. I was completely gung-ho to have my guy – who would double as my bodyguard as we camped at beaches – go somewhere foreign with me! September 2011 arrived and despite being unemployed I took the next step towards my next goal: I started saving $100 a month.

In time, that boyfriend saved $0.00 toward the vacation and (in an unrelated matter) the relationship fizzled too. Now the first week of March, my grandmother finally started feeling human again. Everything about my trip to Puerto Rico revolved around the lunar calendar since tours of its bioluminescent bays were not offered during the week of a full moon. It either had to be the end of March or the end of April.

As mentioned earlier, I visited San Juan at (18° N latitude) in late May and it was uncomfortably sticky for my northern (40° N latitude) blood. A vacation at the end of April obviously meant hotter and wetter weather than in March. So it was now or never.

I was totally on the fence. I had not traveled alone since 2009 when I moved to Australia. Plus, this trip did not have the time to fully settle. I was being rushed (by no one but myself) into a situation I wasn’t 100% comfortable with. At work, at the gym, at the dinner table, in the car, in the shower, in bed, all the time I weighed the pros and cons. After a few days of this ongoing battle, I knew I just needed to decide and stop torturing myself with the variables.

Skydiving takes courage. It is not natural. It is expensive and extremely risky. I feel these same statements apply to life. While working at Skydive Warren County, I remembered how I motivated people that expressed a desire to jump but then made excuses such as "I’m waiting for my friends to set a date" or "I need to save some money first." To these deferments I would encouragingly say "If you wait for the right time to do anything, you’ll probably do much of nothing." Somewhere in the last 10 years that I’ve been skydiving I had forgotten that phrase, but it resurfaced at the right moment in my life… so I bought my airline ticket. The wheels were in motion. I was going to Puerto Rico.

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