Last night, on my way to get the six shots the CDC told me I need in preparation for my trip to India, I had a freak out.
Freak outs are definitely not few and far between in my life; in fact, I have an especially keen ability to freak out about just about anything. Examples include my first grade subtraction worksheets, a finger injury prior to junior prom and the fact that we can only take the trash out on Tuesday nights. (For the record, I still count on my fingers.)
Anyway, this freak out was especially acute.
Me: “Whose idea was this anyway?”
Boyfriend (relegated to role of hand holder during shots): “Yours.”
“This was a terrible idea.”
“I never said it wasn’t.”
“How could I have possibly thought I was capable of traveling alone to a third world country?”
“I don’t know. I told you you might die. Haven’t you seen Hostel?”
“OH MY GOD HOW COULD YOU HAVE LET ME BOOK THAT TICKET?”
“Dude, I don’t know. You were pretty determined.”
He’s right; I was. As soon as I found out that two of my best friends from college would be relocating to Mumbai and Delhi this year, I announced (to anyone who would listen) that I was going to go visit them.
Actually, that’s kind of a lie. I did, in fact, tell everyone that I was going to go visit them, but that was only after I displayed classic signs of another kind of freak out: the “what am I doing with my life?” anxiety attack.
Here they were, my friends, my collegiate peers, heading off on international adventures, embracing the world. And me? I was moving two hours up I-95, back to the city we went to college in. I was literally going in reverse while they were taking flight.
What had happened to the girl who came home from her post-college-graduation Europe trip swearing that she was going to move to Madrid? The girl who touted all of the international opportunities afforded by her big media conglomerate of an employer? What the f was I doing with my life? (Hence the name of the freak-out. It’s a technical term.)
I calmed myself down by coming up with a compromise. The midpoint, I reasoned, between permanently confining myself to the sixth borough and throwing it all away for a reporting gig in East Asia, was clearly a trip. I would take two weeks, do it right, blow all my savings on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. I would prove that I wasn’t totally, completely lame, just moderately lame, willing to leave my oh-god-we’re-basically-already-married-aren’t-we? existence in Philly behind for a bit. If my lovely friend S, a red-headed Jew from Cali, could move there for six months, surely I could handle 14 days?
Sitting in the doctor’s office on Tuesday, waiting for the infectious disease specialist to return with his tubes of typhoid and tetanus, I had become increasingly convinced that the answer to that question was no. Surviving the shots made me feel a touch better, but any gains in confidence I made were quickly overshadowed by all that talk of “malaria” and “breaking bone disease.” (Yes, that apparently is a thing. That you can get in India. Thanks for the details, med student boyfriend.)
I haven’t had any big epiphany about all of this yet, haven’t totally calmed down. But my copy of “Wanderlust and Lipstick: For Women Traveling to India” arrived yesterday, and the cover is pretty. And, the same day, I had a nice little chat with my friend Morsels, who’s actually traveling to India around the same time I am. I told him that I was going to be alone for much of my trip and hadn’t done much planning yet, didn’t even know where I was going. “Good,” he said. “Let the spirits guide you.”
I laughed out loud, because he really is the most ridiculous person ever. (Like, actually.) But somehow it made me feel better. Like, do I need to loosen up or what? There are people in this world that use the word “spirits” in everyday conversation. Clearly, everything is going to be ok.