Ebbing away

I woke up Sunday morning to a text message from my airlines. Online check-in had opened. It had arrived at four in the morning, 48 hours before my scheduled departure. And yet when I saw it, I felt nothing. I wasn’t thrilled, as I should’ve been. I no longer felt like jumping up and down.

I felt indifferent, instead, and even a little scared.

That sensation unnerved me. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t more happy about the one thing I had been looking forward to for the past two months. It was as if an unknown shroud hung over my face, shielding me from the joy I deserved.

Perhaps it was because I hadn’t packed yet, I thought. People often said how planning their trip increased their anticipation. And so I packed. I had already done a trial packing to assess my baggage limits so the actual packing didn’t take much time or effort.

Looking down at my bag, loaded and ready to fly, I still didn’t feel any different. The excitement of the last few days had ebbed away as water through my palms, leaving in its place just blotches on vacant places. All of sudden, this trip seemed longer than I had ever dreamed of. I gulped. So many new things to encounter—maybe a tad too many. From weather and food, to people and road ways, I’d face unfamiliarity in abundance and in quick succession. As good as it is for my inner being, I began to doubt if I could handle it well enough.

My roommates had gone away for the weekend, and so I was in my room alone looking through the window as the monsoon rains lashed against helpless weeds.

Had I gotten cold feet? I didn’t know that was possible.

Although this is my first major trip, it isn’t my first time travelling. And it isn’t my first time putting myself out there for new experiences. I love visiting unknown places, and would often picture myself hiking along scenic routes with a backpack on my shoulders and a dreamy look on my face.

What, then, was I so scared about—I didn’t know.

Sitting down, I tried to figure it out. When I asked myself what I felt, I answered: Anxious that I wouldn’t enjoy myself. At the same time, I worried that worrying about the trip would, in fact, lead to its downfall — a self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts. It seemed far-fetched, yes. But the nagging voice in my head wouldn’t go away.

My train of thoughts grew unsure. Sober though I was, I felt intoxicated as I stared at the list of Friends episodes I’d been watching. Friends made me feel a little better, but they didn’t solve my confusion. At that moment, I received a message from a colleague who’d travel with me: “check in opened”. Ah, this is a business trip after all.

“Saw.” I wrote back to her. And realising it’d seem rude to end it that way, I followed up with, “Let’s do it tomorrow?” She replied in the affirmative and I looked away from my phone. It was too distressing.

*Ping*

Her again. “I’m working on my presentation. Are you done yet?”

Huh?

Oh, I remembered. While being busy planning the fun part of the trip, I had forgotten the work part. My heart had been ruling all along, but my brain had woken up at last.
I’d be presenting in front of a gathering, and my mind reminded me I hadn’t prepared for it. We still had time, though, as my heart assured me—but practise always helps, argued the mind. All of a sudden, the cloud over my mind cleared. So that’s why I’d felt like a loser. I slapped my forehead. Sitting alone at home, I had let my thoughts wander way too much. It wasn’t the travelling that worried me. Instead, it was the business of the travel that had me worried.

Phew, I thought opening my presentation determined to finish it. One day to go. And some of the excitement crept back in.

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