I sat on my bed in complete silence with a deliciously terrifying feeling and I will never forget this moment in my life. It was a moment of complete freedom, for the very first time in my life. My grandmother and mother spent the weekend with me doing the usual college prep things and then they said their goodbyes and left me in my Indiana University dorm room.
I have faint childhood memories, and as I get older I lose more and more, but this memory of my first day of real independence is one I will never forget. I've come back to it often in my adult life, like a bookmark to a great page in your favorite book that you never tire of reading...and I've read the page over and over and over again. Sometimes I read it to inspire me out of a funk, sometimes I read it to remind myself what freedom feels like, and sometimes I trace the words on the page over and over and over again because there is comfort in familiar things.
The first moments of complete freedom were both terrifying and delicious because it was the first time I didn't have to think about anyone but myself, I could break my father's golden rule of everyone before yourself. And because of this, I could do anything I wanted and I had no idea what I wanted to do.
My life has been a discovery of the answer to this question.
Traveling gives me the same feeling, complete and utter freedom. Freedom even from who I am at home or in other places. I can drop into a brand-new place and literally be anyone I want to be or no one at all...do you know how deliciously liberating and intoxicating this is?
I'm officially addicted.
Case in point: Mexico, Miami, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Mexico again, Thailand, Indonesia, Bahamas, Palm Springs, Bloomington, Palm Beach, Cook Islands, Hawaii and Paris...in the last six months.
It's easy to avoid the question of what you want when you are moving, it's sobering when you sit still. Some of my traveling is curated minute-by-minute, and some of it affords great big pauses that are deeply quiet.
I've found myself entering one of these pauses here in Paris, sobering on another level because it comes with the bittersweet feeling of landing in a place where I will be for a bit. (I wonder if this condition is actually called something, the condition travelers have that involves a certain antsy itch when they are just returning from long bouts of travel, or stay put too long?)
This time I'm not resisting the pause, instead I've spent most of the eight days I've been in Paris in my own space; literally not even leaving my apartment some days. I've been writing, and creating, resting and learning...the deep pause is hibernation, rest, recalibration, a gathering of my pieces and my circadian rhythm.
It dawned on me today, a day of celebrating Independence in a world suddenly far away, that I am the epitome of it here in this city as an American, single girl on her own, and not even feeling the need to move beyond the 130 square feet of space she claims as hers.