Sunday, June 15, 2014

before this day ends.

let's first go back to this day, one year and one day ago.

because one year ago today i embarked on an epic journey.
a silent epic journey.
one that doesn't require many, many weeks or months;
an epic journey that is only heard after days and months and years after it has happened.

i first arrived in newberg, oregon, where i stayed with
some girls before being picked up by van at 3:00 in the morning.
sleep came and went quickly, if at all, that night and before i knew it i was standing
in a chaotic line at portland international airport, bags checked, with a backpack strapped to me, a passport in hand, and three plane tickets gripped tightly in my palm. 

that was it.
i was about to go international for the first time.

my first flight was to washington dulles international airport.
the flight felt long.
it was a five hour morning flight.

we arrived and took the train to the international portion of the airport.
and there, we waited.
and waited.
i can't remember if the layover was eight hours or ten.
but the sun burned humid in the sky all afternoon.
it set.
and hours later, around ten p.m.
i was boarding a flight for germany. 

we arrived that morning.
and within an hour i was leaving most of my team behind to board an
earlier flight to bucharest, romania.

one team leader, her nine month old baby, and her thirteen year old daughter joined me.
they were assigned seats at the front of the plane while my seat was much further back.

i remember watching from up in the air as germany disappeared.
i remember noticing that the plane, unlike my flight to germany, offered no source of english.
there were  few on the flight.
mostly men. one family near me.
they stared at me excessively.
as far as they knew, i was a foreigner and i was alone.

i felt peculiar. but most of all, i felt as though my life in america had been paused.
it baffled me that those around me were leading their normal lives simultaneous to the life i led back in the states.

how could two drastically different lives exist at once?

romanian air is hot in the summer.
it tasted like dust and smog to me.
everything felt mediocre -- but i was a westerner, accustomed to only western ways.
looking back, i was so self-centered to have labeled a land that i had no right labeling.

it wouldn't even take twenty-four hours to change my entire mindset on the world.

i took a van to the city of bucharest, since the airport is on the outskirts.
the only thing i could read was the sign for ikea.
and that's not even american.

the cars were small and fast on the freeway.
the buildings old and new at random {which i would later learn meant that they were communist style or post-communist style}.
the sky was an orange haze in most parts.
the people were beautiful and looked, well, european.
which sounds so shallow and ignorant, but i had never been a minority before, so to be
in someone else's country completely took my breath away.
i had no words for the flood of emotions.

after settling into my hostel, the man who retrieved me from the airport took me on a walk in a park.
those who stared at me made me feel self-conscious of how i exhibited myself.
i didn't want anyone to assume that i was judging or staring back.
but i did wish to ask so many questions.
i wanted to familiarize myself with their normal.

keep in mind, my world had just grown by a whole ocean and some.
i was astounded by the realization that billions of lives happen everyday,
and that my life - my routine - is only normal for me.
and that, just because it was my normal, didn't actual make it normal, or typical, or more than any other normal.

my world was suddenly not about me,
and that was the first beautiful gift that i received.

i could write on and on about the whole story, but you're a saint if you're even reading this far.
i think it's safe to say that any first trip abroad is like a first child -- you can oooh and ahh at it forever, and you think that it's the best topic that you can talk about.

so yes, i can talk on and on about the cultural differences and the food and the sight seeing and the historical facts that i learned.

but what most people don't know, don't ask, or don't know to ask about is the experience.
the experience that you only know happened once everything has digested.
because i am still learning from that trip, and i have only begun to apply what i know now.

you can prepare all you want to go to another country.
but when you leave with the intention to learn and to humble yourself,
it's much different than a vacation or tourism. 

what you can't prepare for are the hands that you hold.
the small hands that work hard and play hard, that once were used as cups to beg but now are restored for writing and for holding books.

no one can convince you that you're not there to change the world.
you simply become humbled with one moment of realization that the world
does not revolve around you. 

you can't prepare for the feeling of resentment that silently grows against materialism.
you most certainly can't claim that your desire for materialism will never return,
because one day it does, but that doesn't make you a shallow person.

no history book properly tells the tale of communism,
especially in comparison to one's story that happened only a matter of years ago.

there are no words for a child who smiles at you like you are the most interesting person because you are from a place that they know of only through television.
there is a weight that filled my heart when i realized that children perceived me as rich for the very things i was too often ungrateful for -- things that are selfishly small in my eyes.

and what no one can ever truly prepare you for is just how obvious god is in the eyes of a child when that child has every reason to cry, and yet they fill those around them with joy.

my memories are mostly stained by images of the street. good memories and sad memories that contain stories, realities and testimonies.
i will never shake the feeling that i had, standing there - humbled by all that was around me - knowing that god was walking the streets.

knowing that this world is small and large all at one time.
that it's full and diverse and going, literally, in a billion different directions.

lately i have been antsy and restless.
and i couldn't quite pin point why
until i realized the other day that it was almost one whole year since i'd crossed borders.

and, i assume everyone feels this way but perhaps it's only a select amount of individuals, i have this insatiable desire to go into another unknown -- to feel uncomfortable and humbled.

but that's all in due time,
and for now i have the most beautiful memories and a list of many stories.

i just wanted to use this post to recognize an experience that i was blessed with.

and to remember that traveling is my first true love.
i can't ever lose that.

there's a fire that comes with traveling that can only simmer at it's lowest but never ever be snuffed out.

p.s. i didn't spell check and it's late.
i apologize for {probably} the many typos. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm obsessed with this. You captured everything perfectly Love, love love.