I’m Not Excited About Turkey

September 9, 2015

This story is going to take a different turn from those you usually read. To most readers, travel is this ephemeral experience where time and space don’t exist, money lasts forever, and everyone has a good time because they post an Instagram picture of a beer in their hand as the sun is setting over a white sand beach.

Despite how entitled it makes me sound, I’m not looking forward to this trip. Although I’ve been hesitant and indifferent to boarding a plane at times throughout the years, this is the first time I’ve actually been opposed to going anywhere. My entire universe has had the foundation ripped from under it, and leaving the country right now feels like licking sandpaper.

Funny how sometimes it just takes one thing to completely upset the balance of your life. Losing a job can make you question friendships and relationships. Losing a family member may make you reconsider how you live your life. Being dumped after a one-year relationship via a text message can leave you with a bitter taste for all things.

I go in a circle between sadness, anger, and despair, but since Saturday morning I haven’t felt much of anything. Food is just something to shovel in my mouth and keep me from passing out. Smiling and laughing is more like a reflex than a genuine feeling of joy. Work feels like a complete waste of time. Running is just a way to keep my legs from cramping after a full day just sitting and staring at the wall. It’s possible my life was pretty lackluster even without her in the picture, but knowing there was someone out there who cared heightened all my senses: being mildly content transformed into true happiness.

In all my travels, I’ve been fortunate. I chose to go to Japan and work. I chose to spend six months swinging an axe in the New Zealand countryside. I’ve been hurt, embarrassed, and cheated, but never to the extent I felt I wouldn’t return to any one place.

Unfortunately, this trip was different. Unlike the Philippines, where we were relatively new to a relationship and still testing the waters – one reason things worked well, because she didn’t consider taking a vacation abroad a major inconvenience or an indication of our commitment – Turkey and Greece were a long term plan. I booked the flight months ago and was hoping to use the opportunity to see where she was coming from, culturally speaking, and celebrate a year of being together, only to have all emotions ripped from my soul a few days before I was set to visit.

I honestly don’t know if this is something I can recover from, as a traveler or as a person. One jenga block is pulled out, and I’m left wondering what it is exactly I’m doing out in Seattle. I wrote about the appeal of just living an ordinary life. I still believe in the idea, but what to do in the interim is destroying me. There’s everything: the whole world laid out before me. It’s not as though I’m the only one who has put effort into something only to find nothing comes of it, but I failed to realize just how quickly experiences like that can eat away at your time remaining.

Japan for two years. New Zealand for one. A relationship for five months. Another one. All perfectly wonderful at the time, all things someone in my position might do, and all eventually leading to nothing, with less time available on the horizon. Lost potential is back to being my number one fear, and I seem to help it along by not taking action. I could swallow the $1000 for the plane tickets, but I don’t see how being curled up in my apartment for two weeks would help me any more than watching the sun rise over the Acropolis. In truth, I can’t really feel the difference anymore, and I don’t know if I ever will again.

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