O N E Y E A R A G O T O D A Y,
I started this.
Myself, uncertainty, fear and a 38 pound suitcase hitched a ride to the airport in Fargo, ND. The dream of a one way ticket was alive.
• • •
It always sounds nice to get away; it was a thought I’d visited every day. Then five years of Minnesota fell behind me and I was finally standing in the scene I’d waited for. I didn’t imagine that it would feel so unlike what I’d hoped. I slowly began removing my jewelry and shoes and placed them in a plastic bin, my coat and scarf soon to follow on the conveyor belt. Moments earlier, as I handed the TSA worker my North Dakota license and plane ticket, I knew that I might fall to pieces. Now in an airport full of strangers, the last piece of the past five years of my life I’d see until I didn’t know when, I felt the sting of forgetting the most important goodbye. An unforgiving security agent pointed at my belongings, fresh from the scanner, and ordered that I turn around and check another bag.
Backtracking to an automated machine in the lobby, I swiped the $25 baggage fee off my debit card while imagining how fast I’d go broke in New York. I’d hardly saved money to pay the rent at an apartment I’d never seen, living with people I’d never met, in a place I’d never been to, and three weeks ago I’d never once dreamt of this outcome. As I exchanged words with a woman behind the Delta counter, I could see through glossy eyes that she sensed my fragility. The doors back outside were once again right in front of me, beyond them the buildings, people and emotional space I could connect to. Turning back around would have been so simple.
I took the escalator upstairs for a second time. An empty maze of rope made a path back and forth toward the same blue-shirted TSA man behind his stand, and I felt sadness and embarrassment walking toward him again. I began zig-zagging through the rope. I heard my name.
I turned around, and there was a face I knew more than anyone, the most important goodbye, my sister. Before I could take a step toward her I came unraveled with tears of every kind of anxiety and happiness, worry and relief dripping from my eyes. It was one of the most beautiful and timely moments of my life. In her arms I cried the greatest cry that I’d felt deeply for so many days and nights, like a stone in my stomach. She held me and cried, too, knowing that throughout our entire lives we’d never spent more than three months apart, and this would be it. Then she said the words I needed to hear: If anyone can do this, it’s you.
We said goodbye. I trailed through security and boarded the plane with puffy red eyes and an ounce more confidence than I’d had an hour earlier. My sister was right — I could do this.
That was a year ago today, and the beginning of the most challenging and fulfilling year of my life that I’d never thought possible. I am proud to call this place my home (away from home), and despite all difficulty am going to continue working hard. I am doing this!
To everyone that has supported, loved and cheered for me over the past year — you are my best and brightest source of hope, and my heart is full of gratefulness.
Here’s to another, and another, and another year of the journey —
|From my first morning waking up in Brooklyn — one year ago.|