There is a feeling that always dissolves downward inside me whenever I embark a new adventure alone. It is like reaching the top of something quite tall and peering over the precipice. It is like knowing that an irreversible journey has begun and everything from here on out will happen only by my own ability. It is scary; it is good.
One year and one month ago today, I had never left the United States of America. I had never even left Chicagoland for more than a week at a time. From the thousands of books that I read as a kid, I dreamt of seeing London, Venice, the moon, but without much hope of getting there. My family has always lived comfortably, but not so much that we ever would have flown overseas; we always stayed in the Continental 48, and mostly we only ever drove.
And now, taking the long bus to Krakow, I am grateful for the often interminable road trips to Michigan and sometimes farther; although I will always marvel at the clouds from above whenever I find myself flying skyward once more, there is a beauty to seeing the ground from itself: it is the way people were meant to see it, I think, and for this reason I don't mind the extra time en route.
Ten months and ten days ago today, I turned twenty-one. It was the first full day of a week-long trip to the Andes, and I had only known that I was transgender for less than a week. As I took the long bus to San Miguel de Túcuman the night before, I felt the same dissolving downward as I headed toward the mountains, not only for the sights but also for the life that awaited.
How strange and also fortunate to be going places I've only ever seen in books and in dreams! How odd and also wonderful to have grown up as I did, somehow now a person who looks nothing like she did, but who wears her former forms somewhere beneath her skin like trees! How sweet and also perfect to be on this bus to Krakow, to Salzburg, to Bled and even Venice!
I am told the Alps are incomparable.
For now, everything is forest.