And I’m on an airplane bound for Portugal and Spain. Year 2 of my travel goal in place. At the end of 2016, I was miserable with just going back and forth to work only to not even make ends meet for my bills. I was so unfulfilled but knew I couldn’t quit and knew I couldn’t just take any new job. Whatever change I make needs to be financially equal at the very least. Not easy to do without the husband back up income which buys you a few months to get that in gear. That was the year I felt suicidal for the first time in my life.

That’s when I decided that to be truly happy I would need to write and travel out of the country at least once a year (and fix my medication.). April 2017 kicked off my blog. May 2017 I headed to Amsterdam, Bruges and Brussels. Life changing! It was a very, very happy year for me.

I took the suitcase out of the spare closet today and started throwing a “pile” together of things I don’t want to forget. Emptied out the carry on bag with the broken strap and started transferring my rosary beads, plug converters, earbuds, compression socks to the new carry on….also a super vibrant Betsey Johnson bag just like the broken one.

I love the Europe vacation because, while it may not be the one which relaxes me, it’s the one which enriches me. I feel like it’s renewing my prescription glasses every year so I get to see the world without strain or smudges. Something inside me shifted last year and I am giddy with excitement for what lays ahead this year.

I have been obsessed with the idea of Portugal for years and I don’t know why. I know nothing of the history. I don’t really eat a lot of fish and am very turned off by the idea of any type of fishy stews (although, chorizo and linguisa….have at it.) It’s just a magnetism I feel and can’t ignore. It’s like I know the place is somewhere inside me and will be awakened when I get there. I feel like much of my indoor decorating has roots in this area of the world. There’s a femininity I feel pulled towards which I can’t explain. But in my world, where most of my behavior is masculine and strong, this vacation feels like a softer opportunity to me.

Today is the calm before the storm. Although, last week I did have one panic attack about how many times I would have to fly on this trip until I made some changes. Over the next few days I will develop an intense nervous energy, Struggle with sleep (nothing new) and start having “upset stomachs” of which I will spare you the details. I dread getting on an airplane because I honestly feel like I am marching to my death every time. And, if I don’t want to die on a plane, I can control that by just staying off of them. So I must be really, really stupid to put myself through this. That’s how powerful these trips are for me. I desperately want to experience other parts of the world, other cultures….better cultures so much so that I challenge myself to encounter my biggest fear which makes me physically ill for several days leading into my trip and sometimes even a few days after I land. And I am not convinced I won’t die on one of these trips which is super upsetting to me.

So I just hope and pray (yes, I do actually pray and I don’t travel without my high school rosary beads) for the best because I need churches, historic streets, buildings preserved and respected over thousands of years, the mathematical challenge of translating currency in my head (thank god for the Euro which makes it easy.) I need these things and experiences to feel alive, to have a point of view, to understand and empathize with people. If I am going to spend my life alone, I want to have dozens of years of these experiences where I feel less alone amongst foreign strangers than I do on home turf. These trips turn my switch on and it’s ok if I don’t have someone else to share it with, to witness with me. I think I am stronger and more interesting for it.

2018 adventure, I am ready!