I love to write, and I love to travel. But for far too long, I’ve been consumed by something else, and put all of me aside. For the sake of this site, let’s call it fear. It’s probably so much more than that, yet also probably no more than that. About 2 years ago, I woke up from my fear. It was such a strange feeling. I literally woke up. In the middle of the night. In a cold sweat.
I was laying next to someone I’d been laying next to for 6 years, totally out of fear. I’d put my dreams of living abroad and really immersing myself in other cultures aside, in exchange for the comfort of having someone to come home to. Although that person and I – however good of a person he was – were never right for each other.
So, what set off this new chapter for me was the realization that I couldn’t keep sleeping next to someone out of fear of being alone. I’d been toying with the idea of leaving for far too long. I tortured myself trying to decide. The problem was that there was nothing really wrong that I could put my finger on. Sure we had our arguments, and in the beginning these fights were actually pretty terrible. But over time we learned how to fight better – and more respectfully. Gone was the name calling, and the words we hoped the other didn’t really mean. But the absence of bad doesn’t equal the presence of good. Things were never bad enough to leave. But they were also never good enough to stay.
So, I woke up in a cold sweat, completely panicked that I was wasting my life. As I lay there awake, I silently cried – no, I sobbed – while laying next to the person I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with. The hardest part for me was that I didn’t recognize myself anymore. Out of fear of being alone, I had let myself become someone totally different from the person I was deep down, and who I really wanted to be. Laying there, crying, trying not to wake him up, I got angry. Not at my partner – but at myself.
I didn’t know how I could have possibly let so much time go by, wracked with uncertainty and trying to make up my mind. I knew I wasn’t happy, and that I hadn’t been happy since the beginning. I knew I had hidden myself for the sake of him being happy. But I also knew he was with a decently good person, who on paper seemed to have what I wanted in a life partner. Unless I was incredibly screwed up, how could I be so unhappy when I was with someone who was smart, charming, from a good family, and with whom I shared many of the same interests?
Long story short, even after that night, it took many, many months (almost 24 to be exact) to finally make the decision to leave.
I secretly booked this trip to Cuba the same week I secretly signed a lease on a place of my own. Both marked when I decided to actually leave, but before I told anyone – including him – that I was going to do it. I guess in my mind it was my way of choosing me. It was my way of forcing my hand, and doing something for myself that I knew wouldn’t be allowed unless I left.
I’m surprisingly not bitter or angry (well, most of the time), because I think I had to go through all of this in order to wake up and start living. This isn’t the prettiest of stories, and I’m still fumbling through, but I think it’s one that’s more common than we want to believe, and one I think needs to be told. So, while I’ll mostly post my photos and share stories from my travels, this is also a story of finding myself, and all of the crazy antics I’ve experienced living life to it’s fullest since choosing not to be afraid anymore. I like to think of it as odd twists of fate. Because regret will get you no where, but surviving life’s twists and turns can take you somewhere unexpected…