I had my first panic attack when I was seven. I was watching a movie with my brother and parents when an invisible hand reached inside my chest, death-gripped my lungs and wouldn’t let go. The air I hadn’t thought about breathing my entire life was suddenly all that mattered; I didn’t even know what oxygen was, but I desperately knew I needed it. I was hyperventilating, hysterically crying and shaking uncontrollably as my hands went numb first, followed by my face and limbs. My muscles tensed up so severely that the smallest movement felt like I was ripping them to shreds. Everything my formerly rational young brain knew vanished completely, replaced only by thoughts of dying. Continue reading
Why is it when we’re someplace so surreal in its beauty, or in a moment so perfect in its entirety, we close our eyes? I catch myself doing it often, yet I’ve never realized how illogical it seems. But somehow it isn’t learned… It’s as natural a reaction as one can have.
Right now my mind is saying “Sure, what you see is beautiful. But stop. Feel the wind and taste the salt in it’s touch. Listen to the waves breaking in the distance. Fill your lungs with air and lift your head to the sky. Say ‘Thank You,’ out loud, for this moment. And feel the gratitude so tangibly it gives you chills.” Continue reading
When is the last time you said good bye to a friend knowing you’d likely never speak to them again?
The tourist-cliché, woven “Thailand” bracelet around my wrist was bought on Khao San Road a week ago. An Austrian, a Brit, and a German are all wearing identical ones. Well maybe they’re not anymore, but I have no way of knowing.
Scenes from Zanzibar’s capital
A smear of red ink leaks its way into her vision. The tile beneath her confused, throbbing head is cold and hard. She opens her eyes a little wider to the blurry words hung above them. “This is why men…” she reads. A picture of a red-bikinied butt on a tall, bent-over blonde enters the frame. “Keep the beer on the bottom shelf.”
Recognition slowly seeps in. She realizes she’s on the communal bathroom floor beneath her treehouse hostel room. The sudden, middle-of-the-night climb down the steep, winding treehouse stairs must have caused her to momentarily black out. Continue reading
The world is full of luminous beings.
The plane touches down in Oman while my daydreams about the day ahead remain in the clouds. My thoughts are suddenly grounded in the reality of the 15 hours ahead of me: I’m alone in the Middle East for the first time and have no idea what to do or how to do it.
In typical post-redeye fashion, I’m bumbling around the Muscat Airport like a lost little zombie baby, when an employee stops and asks me where I’m trying to go. I inquire about the Omani public transportation system and he looks at me like the crazy person I am. As we’re laughing at my naiveté, he flags down a buddy of his and briefly speaks to him in Arabic. A minute later he introduces us while telling me “he’ll take you in to town.”
A know-it-all sorority girl in my college Italian class once passionately proclaimed from the back row that she hated airports. She was jabbering on about the flight she had to catch later and how insanely long the lines would be. “I mean, nobody likes being at the airport,” she whinced.
“Amo gli aeroporti” I responded as I whipped around in my desk.
My mouth often works faster than my brain. “Think before you speak” was a frequent time-out goal assigned to me by adults when I was younger. This time, I probably didn’t need to pick a silly, travel-based battle considering I couldn’t even get my language of response right.
“I love airports,” I repeated. Continue reading
Where do I begin? What a blissful week. Mediterranean waves, endless sunshine, jeep cruising, Crayola-colored bays, feet dangling over white cliffs above bright, horizon-reaching blue. We played make-believe in fantasy land for a week and it was better than anything I could have dreamt up as a kid. I wouldn’t have been able to draw the beaches as perfectly or sculpt the seaside rocks with more character. Continue reading
So what was your favorite?
If you’ve ever taken a trip with multiple destinations, you’ve dealt with the sudden onslaught of memories that invade you following this question. The faces of strangers who became friends smile in the places you shared together. Endless landscapes scroll through your mind: panoramas of white-drenched mountains, sparkling beaches, vine-lined jungles. You fall through the air 13,000 feet above the ground. The morning sun blankets you in your hammock on a sugar sand beach. A shark rams his head into the wire cage you’re inside. Hand-in-hand, you spend the day laughing with an orphaned child without understanding a single spoken word.
Final boarding call for Flight 213…
I look across the table at him. It’s his flight they’re announcing, but you’d never know by the lackadaisical look on his face. Because it’s not the reason we’re here. At the Zadar Airport. Drinking crappy, expensive cappuccinos in order to use the wifi. Continue reading