Recommended Travel Writer; Storyteller

Jiggidy Jig

A four-hour layover finds me taking my time in the duty-free; last minute gifts. I stop by the MAC counter for a few “treat yourself” goodies. I juggle holding the products I want to try, my daypack, Blue (my water canteen), and my sweater, as I approach the mirror- my lack of grace is noted. The saleswoman approaches and declares that I’m holding too much before offering to help. I blink slowly as I grin at her and raise an eyebrow wondering if she would giggle along with me if she knew the irony in her commentary.

My returns to the States haven’t gotten any easier. In fact, the emotional blowback increases each time. I’m learning that home is found in the people I love vs a physical place. A coping mechanism of this peripatetic lifestyle, no doubt, yet it helps curb the loneliness enough for now.

I accept an invitation to visit the Botanical Gardens in the Brooklyn hopeful of the impact of fresh air and nature on my being. I try to enjoy being outside – it’s such an exquisite day. A delightful experience in a new place in a part of town I’ve never seen; everything should feel wonderful, but it doesn’t. Depression settling low and heavy on my psyche like a fog, making it hard to concentrate. These flare-ups are rare, but this flare up is as untimely as they come. I go along with the day trying to practice my mindfulness, snapping myself back and forth between the haze and the present, but today it literally hurts to smile.

Good intentions aside, the inquiries on my experiences are polite, but surface at best. Routine and circumstances typically drive the majority regardless of an underlying desire to abandon the mundane. I try to acclimate to these awkward social exchanges yet they are often fuel for my anxiety and I pull back from crowds as a natural reaction.

Back in California just in time for my Dad’s birthday -as promised-before heading up to Los Angeles to join a friend and her family in Hollywood. The freedom and solitude of the two-hour car ride allow me to swim in the ocean of my mind. I dive and bob like a buoy or just back float in this safe space, listening to the stillness of the dark water below. It brings me comfort and relaxes the busyness of my brain.

A few favorites
Quite the sage gentleman
Watching my friends brother perform live!

In my hometown, I’m able to unpack my bags, reorganize my life, and visit family and childhood friends. It’s too easy to get swept back into city life; rushing to and fro, filling each day with as much as possible. Groundhog Day of high price points, fake embraces and surface conversations. That haunting desire to draw the curtains; talk to no one as I wallow and write feverishly to detangle my emotions following closer than my own shadow.

Bag Lady (besides being the title of a great song by one of my favorite female artists) has always been a term of endearment for my style of travel-always carrying too much. Over packing synonymous with my first name. One friend would joke, "if I could hear you coming down the hallway, bag lady!" Another replies with disbelief and hysterical laughter when I proudly proclaim that I successfully packed one 'carry on' sized bag for a two week adventure. Obviously organized, structured and planner are frequent adjectives to describe me. And I genuinely agree unapologetically that these three elements help keep me balanced in life. That is until, or the opposite actually. Consider what it might be like to have the earth shatter from under your feet like a dropped egg plummeting to the ground helpless to its demise, bringing you to an abrupt halt and leaving you in a million pieces from the fall. Yea... that's what it felt like when my Mother, life coach, and best friend in life and all things international travel, took suddenly ill and passed away while I was serving my country overseas in the U.S. Peace Corps. Both my Grandmother and my Mother, the two rocks in my unruly stream of life, taught me that positivity and laughter go a long way. The harsh reality that nothing really goes "according to plan", however, left me ambivalent about what I'm called to be and who I was shaped to be and ultimately pitted my mind against my heart. After I lost her none of the "plans" we'd made were to come to fruition. In the months after her passing I would ask myself some tough questions-as I do- and encounter a profound silence in response. Over time one solitary word would come to me from the saddest place in my heart, GO! So I will.. Now I travel to feel her. To find her in the smiling face of humanity. To keep moving forward with my journey of being a positive change in peoples lives through cross cultural experiences and adventure in places I never thought I'd be inclined to go! Meeting my own travel goals while meeting the truth that time and letting go of all the bags I carry will heal my shattered heart while helping me plant my two feet back on solid ground.

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