I’ve been on dozens of planes in my life, each feeling different emotions. I’ve felt the nerves kick in while flying cross country to national gymnastics meets. I’ve felt sheer joy coming home with my teammates after winning a national championship title for cheerleading. I’ve felt excitement when trekking to Montana to reunite with my best friend after several long years of being apart. I’ve felt blessed while going on a family vacation to Alabama and I’ve felt curiosity when making my way to Germany for a student exchange.
But I boarded a plane this morning from Omaha to Denver, a mere 540 mile trip, and I have never felt more of a combination of emotions. This is where my journey finally takes off. I have a one way ticket to London with a stopover in Iceland. I have budget airline flights booked throughout Western Europe. I have an unlimited train pass and a map of bus lines throughout the continent. I have the best travel partner I could ask for; someone who is full of joy and loves everything about life. Brooke is the definition of a humble, kind person who always stays strong in her faith. And that’s all the travel necessities I need!
I am a walking mixture of excitement and fear. I am giddy to be exploring lands that many have never even heard of and I am humbled to even have this opportunity in the first place. It was difficult to say goodbye to all of my family and friends, faces that I wouldn’t see in person for several months. It’s also hard to fly away from everything you’ve been familiar with for years. I’ve grown up seeing miles and miles of golden fields and clear, blue skies. Being over the top of your hometown and seeing everything your eyes can follow is a surreal feeling.
I know that sometimes we can get stuck in the mundane tasks of our everyday life. We can follow the same exact process each morning when driving to work or school. We repeat the same patterns when we head home at night; the same roads, the same rooms, the same routine. But one thing I’ve noticed in the mere two hours that I’ve been waiting alone in this airport is that I wish I would’ve focused more on things around me in these last few months leading up to this day.
I could’ve looked around more on each drive home, observed the traffic around me and the construction workers on the sidewalks. I could’ve stared longer at the scenic views that I encountered everyday: the lakes by my house, the trees along the highway, the sunsets peeking over unfinished houses. I could’ve soaked in every step I took, every sight I saw, every emotion I felt. I could’ve realized what I had around me before I noticed that I won’t be seeing it for a long time.
I’m going to miss home. I know that I’m going to miss my family and my friends and my car and my house. I’m going to miss my job and my room and my city. But I also believe that one of the biggest joys we have in life is the chance to explore new realms and still have the home we were given. I’m about to see breathtaking sights and find hidden treasures in every country I am in with one of my favorite people in the whole world. And I also know that the second I land back in Omaha, it’s going to feel just like I never left. That’s the great thing about home; it’s always there when you need it.
So here I go, on this quick trip to Denver, with my stuffed backpack and my bulky winter coat. The next stop after that is Iceland, and after that is the United Kingdom, with many more destinations afterwards. Miles and months will pass, but this is about to be my craziest, most exciting opportunity yet. And I get to experience it all with Brooke, someone who’s known me for years and probably knows me better than I know myself. We’ve been through all of the awkward middle school phases together and have had so many adventures. I can’t wait to add all of these to our list.
Omaha, I’ll see you soon.