Friday, September 26, 2014

The Flight to London – Phase 2

I will write about Turkey, I promise. There is so much to say about the two weeks while I left my laptop behind in Istanbul and traveled across the desert, took hot air balloon rides over the fairy chimneys and cave churches of Cappadocia, experienced an extremely authentic Turkish Bathhouse, hiked through the lush, rocky hills of the coast, sailed among sunken cities and remote Mediterranean islands, climbed to the top of ancient Roman theaters, walked the worn marble streets of Ephesus and, well there was a Trojan horse, but it was pretty kitchy to be honest.

The horse certainly added to what was otherwise not such an
exciting ruin site, at least.
 Right now, I’m thinking about Northern Ireland, though.

Yesterday I sent home a nearly-9 kilo box of ceramics from Greece, brightly colored lamps from Turkey and a Christmas tree ornament from each country I’ve visited along the way, tucked safely between layers of summer clothes – dresses and tank tops I won’t be needing any more.

As I write I am flying to London, watching the cities I passed through months ago – Belgrade, Budapest, Prague, Amsterdam – dissipate eastward before me on the flight tracker screens.

This is a turning point for me and this trip. I’ve always seen the journey as two separate pieces – the vacation and the work. I’ve been on the road for nearly 3 months (more than 3 months if you begin counting the morning I drove away from Pasadena) and I have officially finished the “vacation” piece of my trip. Ten countries, two continents, eighty-eight days of bouncing from city to city, camera at my side, collecting pennies in currencies I’ll never use again.

Now comes what may be the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done.

I’m going to go and try to do that thing I’ve been telling everyone I dream of doing for 7 years. I’m putting my money where my mouth is in a way that doesn’t even feel possible after so many years of halfheartedly saying I’m a writer. I have spent years plotting my way to this flight, adding up dollars, received gifts from friends and family and strangers to make it happen. And here I am. Once again, no trumpets. No particular grandeur. No epiphanies. Just another body filling another seat no this airplane.

I remember last time I got off the plane from London to Belfast, I wrote a jubilant Facebook status somewhere along the lines of “Take THAT, life goals!” At this moment, I looking towards at least two and a half months of “research” and writing – whatever that will turn out to mean – and I feel my gut turn over.

What have I gotten myself into?

I do believe we should follow what we fear the most. I know that more than anything in the world, I want to be able to call myself an author, to share my art on a wider scale, to see my own name listed on the spines of a book or two. It is time to claim myself as an artist, push myself to really work on the book, to make this happen. I’ve carved out time and space in my life. Now I just need to walk into it with my head held high and my heart opened to whatever stories are about to emerge around me.

In a few days I’ll take a ferry from Liverpool to Belfast – which sounds so much more romantic than an airplane, doesn’t it? – and, well, a lot of plans I hoped to make have fallen through or have sounded off into silence so far. I do ultimately believe there is a reason for this, though. Things are at play here. The best option for me is going to come together.

One time John Colburn, my Senior Literary Arts teacher at Perpich, said wistfully in class, “I’m looking for my next cliff to jump off – artistically, of course.” That’s what this feels like to me – my artistic cliff. It’s been time for this for a long time now. I have been waiting for this moment for years. Looking down from up here, at all those weeks and hours of what appears from this angle to be empty time makes me want to turn back.

But here I am. I’ve been brave so far on this trip. I can continue to do it now.

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