It wasn't until four days before I am to board a plane and endure 12 hours of butt numbing sitting in pressurized air that I realized that the next 14 days of my life were going to be spent in a country I've never been in, a culture I've never immersed in, with weather the extreme polar opposite of the one I am in now. I am to do a thing I love the most ---- TRAVEL.

At the back of my mind,

it was there ---- I have been making the ticket bookings, the flip flopping of airline choice {have been considering something else not PAL, hrhr}, filling out forms, adding and subtracting time zone differences, checking out baggage allowances, shopping for wardrobe and a new luggage but my heart was out of sight. As my friend C told me over beer {what is new?}, I wasn't my usual self --- the one who was bouncing off the walls while making itineraries, checking out shops to go to, food to eat, tours to engage in, discovering what lies in the path left un-beaten. "You don't sound excited at all," she mused.

Because the ugly truth was that --- I wasn't.

Even my mother was surprised I did not tweet or FB-statused my impending travel plans the moment they were finalized. For someone who tweets even the most mundane things, it comes off as the shock of a lifetime.

Here's the thing: Our normal lives could ground us so much and not permit our heads to flounder off. There's a fear of not knowing what could happen while we're away, of the things that could change, of the matters that could fade away. In my case, I was deathly scared of shaking what was the status quo: of the work I could've done, of the birthday parties and milestones I could've celebrated with my closest friends, of the moments that come unannounced. I was afraid of not coming to the same comforting feeling of knowing what to expect from my life.

I was a creature of habit after all.

Add to that the fact that I am heading to a first world country at that, with money 45 times my home currency's value, it was kind of scary to think of how much I would be spending {I could be the frivolous spender every now and then}, material things or experiences-wise, I was a ball of nerves imagining the ring of the till.

It wasn't until I stumbled upon a friend's post about traveling to broaden sense of style that I was affirmed of what I was to do {and spend ridiculous amounts of $$$ for} that I felt a sense of calm wash over me:

Journey to discover life. Journey to acquire wisdom. Journey to praise and thank the one who made it. Journey to make the rest of the world something personal. It makes you bigger than you are. At least, that’s how traveling makes me feel.
“Knowing that there is so much to see outside my little bubble, I simply can’t stay where I am and refuse to experience what’s out there. It’s my way of celebrating God’s glorious creation. The world is one amazing artwork. All we need to do is to take that journey to see it up close. You’ll be amazed.”

Sasha Manuel

Sasha herself is going through one of the biggest journeys of her life --- reading her post reminded me of why I loved traveling, whichever new place, wherever, alone, or not.

By the Atlantic ocean | June 2010

A river is never the same river, says J, who was quoting some philosopher, he says, is probably the most apt one-sentence description of my post-wanderlust feelings. Every single time I step back into my home with my bags in tow, I feel my skin tingling as I realize that the Tara who was coming back is not the Tara who left. Something from every place I've been to adds or subtracts something from me. Most of the time, they were for the better -- sometimes, for the worst.

But change is always good, nonetheless.

If there's another thing I like whilst traveling, it's the feeling of being lost. For the record, I do tend to get lost a lot and I like it that way. There have been many times I have been pleasantly surprised from all these trips and I thank my uncanny ability to make mistakes in ticket bookings, long layovers, my non-talent in remembering street names and directions and undeniable interest in talking to strangers.

A journey is always un-contrived for me,

that much I admit. I find joy and fulfillment in the conversations I have with strangers, a stone in the pavement, an unexpected wonderful surprise, a plane upgrade, a smile from a hotel receptionist. My journeys are rather strange and never by the book.

I can't wait.

As I have been writing this, I was hoping I could paint an accurate picture of what I have been feeling but the right words are escaping me one by one. All I know is that as early as now, even if I haven't left yet, I am holding my breath, pretty much like I do in a roller coaster, with what is to come when I return, for what would be, for what would not be anymore ---

For what I and my life could become.