On November 1, 2017, my mom died. Unexpectedly. Eleven days before her birthday. Less than one day after I had returned from Dubai.
I was devastated. Even as I am writing this, tears are welling up and I can barely see the screen.
Needless to say, my whole worldview changed at that moment. Sure, we all know that there is a circle of life and that people will die, but until you lose an extremely close relative, like a parent or a sibling or a child, it’s all hypothetical. An intellectual exercise. Not something you can really fathom until it hits you smack dab in the face.
One of my immediate thoughts was that I was SO GLAD that my travel plans had changed and that I was back in the U.S. when she passed away. I’m so glad God and my mom decided to wait until I was back home. You see, I was supposed to be, on that day, taking my first steps on African soil. But plans changed and people fell through and I landed at home on October 31, and talked to my mom a couple of times that evening when I got back.
The next morning, she was gone.
The rest of that year, I was actually remarkably…okay. Yeah I of course had sad moments, but generally I was good and handling things “remarkably well” according to many.
Until I wasn’t.
In January, I totally went off on someone…totally lost it… and it was very clear to me that I needed to get away, like immediately. I vaguely remember one of the phrases I wailed in my outburst was something to the effect of “I’ve been taking care of everyone else and I just need ONE SECOND for myself, and I can’t even get that???” Yeah, telltale sign that you are about to snap.
So, I left. I went to Playa del Carmen, by myself, and gave myself that one second. Just me. When I got there, I immediately felt better. I felt more centered, more peaceful.
I came back rejuvenated, thinking that I was better and back to myself. But that was not the case. I was more emotional, more mournful. Grief is funny like that; it comes in literal waves. My tsunami hit a couple of months in.
And then things got more tricky. By the grace of God, I became a full time entrepreneur like two or three weeks later. That was its own bag of worms, truth be told, and if anyone tells you that full time entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint of heart, believe them.
So, I, once again, decided to leave. Well, to be fair, I was already planning on leaving and traveling for an extended time that year but I was also initially planning to work for another couple of months. That didn’t happen, but my trip still did.
So I left home for 6 whole weeks. Let’s see, I visited Miami, Virginia Beach, Atlanta, Maine, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Niagara, and eventually went back to Chicagoland to visit my mom for Mother’s Day.
Now you would think that this would be a treasure trove of material for my blog, since you know, travel writing and all. But it just wasn’t. I managed to write a quick piece about Playa del Carmen right after that trip, but I just couldn’t muster up the energy to write most of the time. I did write a couple of articles that I had to write due to professional obligations, but I did it because I knew I needed to not because I really wanted to. It’s not that I didn’t want to write the posts and that I didn’t absolutely enjoy my experiences; that’s not the case at all. But the love was gone. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it wasn’t because I was sooooo busy (though I was really busy trying to make money and survive); it was because I just didn’t want to write anymore.
I needed a minute.
Hell, I couldn’t even write my posts (required and otherwise) about Dubai until March of 2018, four months after my visit. And at first, I didn’t understand why. Why I had an impending sense of dread every time I sat down to try to write the post that I knew I needed to write so I wouldn’t be that person. Then, it dawned on me. I associated Dubai and that time period with my mom dying.
So you know what, at some point, unknowingly at the time, I just stopped writing. It wasn’t there for me at the time. It wasn’t the pleasure it used to be and had begun to feel more like an unwanted obligation. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, so I just didn’t do it. Even though writing is something I have always loved doing, I just couldn’t get up the gumption last year. Again, grief. Combine that with being a highly sensitive person and becoming a new full time entrepreneur, and, well, I just shut down on the blog front. Literally nothing new has been posted on my blog in probably 9 months. That’s a crazy long time in the blogging world, real talk.
But what I did do during that time was travel. A lot. I visited four new countries, four repeat countries, and numerous domestic locations in 2018. This is partly because I always have an insatiable wanderlust and want to see a lot more of the world. And I still have that desire. But I know part of it was to escape: to leave the real world behind and experience someone else’s world and just be engulfed in it, even if for a short time.
And you know what? That’s perfectly okay. In fact, for me, I think it was the right thing to do. I wouldn’t change that I did it. Hell, I am pretty sure I did the same thing after my divorce. I just pack up my shit and go. And you know what, I think it is a perfectly viable form of self care and therapy (though I will say if you are going through something please also get therapy, therapy as well; I did and still do).
I don’t regret my decision to heal myself and run away with travel, using travel as an escape. In hindsight, I may have planned better financially but, well, you don’t have the luxury of hindsight when your mom passes away unexpectedly. You go with what you know and let the chips fall as they may.
I think traveling helped me endure, emotionally. It gave me something tangible to look forward to. New things to see and experience. New people to meet and new horizons to gaze at. Not to mention a good portion of my travels were solo in nature, and that was a highlight as well. I highly recommend that everyone try traveling solo at least once. You’ll either love it or you’ll hate it but at least you’ll know. In fact, I think that was one of the things my mom admired most about me: that I would go to these far flung places alone and just do it. Ever since my first solo international trip, I’ve realized that I like myself and being by myself a lot more than I ever would have imagined. Travel did that for me.
And now, it’s given me new inspiration to write. I scrolled through my photos from last year and had new inspiration and motivation that I hadn’t experienced in a while. Realistically, this blog rebrand could have been done months ago. But I wasn’t ready. I needed some time.
Theoretically, I’m back now. I’ve been to some amazing places the world over that I haven’t written about, but it’s coming. From Africa to snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, it’s my goal to share it and show it all. But if I fall off again, if you don’t see any new posts from me for a while, that’s okay, too. I mean, I am a practicing attorney and kind of also need to serve my clients, so that’s one thing. But it may also be that I just don’t feel like writing at the moment. And that’s also okay. I’m finally okay with that.
So welcome to The Traveling Esquire. This is me, unapologetically. I’m a storyteller by nature (as anyone who knows me can attest), so I hope you will come along with me, read my stories, and join my journey. That is what life is, after all. A journey. And I’ll try to take you along for my ride.