During a recent layover in Atlanta, I walked into an airport restaurant in Terminal F. After I looked over a menu and decided to eat there, the hostess asked me if I wanted to sit at the bar or at a table.
“Table,” I said, wanting some space to relax and write before my overnight flight to Buenos Aires.
As the hostess walked me to a table, she asked me where I was headed.
“Argentina,” I said.
“What are you doing there?”
I think about my sister a lot, but this week, I’ve been thinking about her a lot, a lot. She’s spent the days leading up to her 25th birthday — a time in a young person’s life that’s typically about dreaming big, testing the water and living freely and fearlessly and without abandon — in a hospital bed.
For 4-5 years now, Kathryn has been living with epilepsy. Doctors haven’t found the right prescription to control her seizures through medication, and over several months, she has undergone / is undergoing a series of tests while hospitalized to see if and how surgery might be an option as well. She’s living with a great amount of risk, but it’s not the kind of risk you want or seek out in your 20s — or ever, really.
I think about my sister, and I cannot help but imagine how terrifying it must be to be in her shoes. For so many reasons. For reasons that don’t even cross my mind, reasons I can’t comprehend. I think about my sister and everything she’s facing, and I think about how she’s taking it in stride, how she’s working two jobs, how she doesn’t complain, how she isn’t quick to anger. When it comes to my sister and her health and her life, I think about a lot of things, but more than anything, lately, I think about how brave she is.
Brave. That’s the word I keep coming back to.
“You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” – Miriam Adeney
I don’t know that there’s a better set of words to capture the feeling of exploring the world and building home and community in more than one place. Michigan will always be home – this visit was a good reminder of that – but every time I travel and connect, or reconnect, with people and places, I feel a pull on my heart; I feel the truth of Miriam’s words.
Leaving is not easy. Saying “goodbye” and “see you later” is tough – sometimes painfully so – for me. Especially when it comes to my family, pets, good friends, the places I love most and experiences that dig deep and leave me wanting more.
For someone who’s made a lot of changes throughout the past year and embraced a lot of challenges — many planned, many unplanned; some good, some I wouldn’t choose to relive; some new, some repeats — change still scares the sh*t out of me.
Tomorrow I’m traveling back to the U.S. for my cousin’s wedding, a visit with family and friends in northern Michigan and a trip out to California for work. I’ll then be returning to Bariloche, a place I’ve come to love deeply, a place in which I feel at home and at peace, a place that inspires me to keep chasing and living big dreams.
This post isn’t about Bariloche, though. This post is about change and some recent thoughts on it. Throughout the past week or so, as I’ve thought about stepping back on U.S. soil and spending time in familiar spaces, if only for a few weeks, I’ve reflected quite a bit on change and how returning home after considerable time away often reveals change.
Winter has arrived in the south of South America, and I am loving every second of it. Honestly, it is glorious. It’s been nearly four years since I’ve had a winter, and it’s true what they say: you don’t miss something until it’s gone. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m at the foot of the Andes in Bariloche; mountains covered in snow make winter a little more magical.
For better or worse, Michigan, my home state, has four distinct seasons. I didn’t realize exactly what those seasons meant to me and how much I actually liked them — or at least appreciate them for what they are and what they mean to me — until I’d moved to and lived in Berkeley, California.
Today is a Nuquí day. A reminder that travel, and life, does not always go according to plan.
I woke up at 5:20 a.m. today to catch a 7:00 a.m. bus to Osorno, Chile. (I need to cross the border to renew my passport.) I brushed my teeth, washed my face, got dressed, packed my backpack and then walked to the neighborhood bus stop to catch the local bus to the terminal in town. It was 5:50 a.m. Mornings are slow, still and silent in Argentina, especially 12 kilometers out from Bariloche.
At the bus stop, I stood in the little shelter as rain drizzled outside. I waited 40 minutes for any bus heading into town to appear. I counted four or five buses heading in the opposite direction, but there was nothing coming my way. For 40 minutes. Nada.
At 6:30, a bus came into view. It wouldn’t take me directly to the terminal, but it was the first bus to show up in the direction I needed to go and I figured it would get me close.
Let’s talk about failure.
Why does this word carry such negative connotations? Why do we fear failure? Why are we so afraid to fail? To accept defeat? To be knocked down?
I suppose it has a lot to do with the way failure makes us feel. Both in the moment and sometimes long — far too long — after the moment has passed. Failure stings. It doesn’t feel good. It’s tough. It’s humbling. It can feel unfair. It can have everything to do with us; it can have nothing to do with us.
No matter how it feels, I’m learning it’s important to remember that failure isn’t half-bad. The more I live, the more I realize there’s actually a lot of good in failure. There’s a lot of good to be drawn from failure. We learn a lot from feelings of failure; we grow a lot from feelings of failure. In fact, there’s often more to be learned from failure than success.