“Are you sure you want to book those tickets…?”
The question caused me to pause as an internal debate stirred in myself on how to answer. So much of me wanted to say, “Hold off. Wait… At least a day or two, maybe a week. Come to think about it… how about forever?” I wanted to be absolutely sure I could pull it together, that I actually had a concrete travel plan, one that would be undeniably safe.
But that was the problem, and I knew it. If I hesitated, or decided to not go forward with what I wanted to do, my disappointment in myself would be endless. A lifetime of playing it safe, this trip back to China was complicated. So much more than the really big of why I was going, another huge piece was personal redemption for the years I basically had spent avoiding life because of fear of the unknown and risk of failure.
Inside of me was the Adventurer. I knew this was finally the time I needed to experience the possibility of being out of my comfort level. If the unexpected happened, this would be the opportunity to strategize on my own, how to overcome what it is was that made me afraid. Booking those tickets was the test to see if I was going to allow that to happen.
The travel agent asking me the question was patiently waiting for my answer. The places I was planning on going, the excitement of this once in a lifetime adventure contrasting with the thousand and one things that could go wrong were a constant thought pattern running through my brain, an internal picture-slide show that just wouldn’t shut off.
China was to be a backpack, hostel-staying adventure. Flights were to destinations that were off the beaten track and there would be no guide. I knew from my google research that plenty of adventurers had done this before. However, for the really big of why I was traveling, it was not the norm of travel that was expected and to be honest, several people advised me not to do so. I even had someone state that I wouldn’t be allowed to stay in a location that was on my itinerary. I really don’t like when someone tells me that I can’t. I wanted to be like the adventurers that could.
If only I had known that when we arrived in Beijing, the internet on my phone no longer felt the need to work, leaving me with no means of which to contact our driver who was to meet us that night. Ironically, or not, when he did finally find us, he somehow misplaced his car and we spent a good forty minutes touring the parking garage searching for it.
Several days after that, in the farm village of JiuXian, my son was hit by a moped, crashed into by his sister, and later, wiped out on his own as we were biking through the countryside. He was fine with all that but not so much when we ended up ironing our wet sheets that night in our hostel in an attempt to dry them before bed. I’m not sure what was up with those sheets because they were wet the next night too.
I didn’t have a clue that as a result of traveling during QingMing festival, China’s equivalent of Memorial Day, there would be no available seats left on the bullet train that I was planning on taking to Guangzhou. Luckily there were three tickets left on the Get Up at Four O’clock in the Morning Train. Unlucky that the lady ticket master had no interest in handing over our tickets even though they were paid for.
I think it would have been nice to know beforehand, how to handle the situation when a taxi driver drove us back to Guangzhou after an afternoon in Zhongshan. Halfway through the ride, he began driving in such a way, that I thought it most likely he had multiple health issues. With his left leg and arm jumping all around, resulting in a swerving, lurching, stop and go driving pattern, and his unresponsiveness to my asking him if he was ok, I thought it likely we all might die that night.
But I hadn’t known and even if I had, I realize that I still would have answered as I did. Because each and every day in China was exactly what I had hoped for in planning the trip in the first place. I had allowed myself to be the risk-taker. In facing the trip in all of it’s challenges, and rewards, the adventure unfolded with a richly layered experience and an opportunity for myself and my children who traveled with me to live it well….
Knowing the travel agent was still waiting for my answer, I replied without hesitation,
“Book the tickets…”