There was a lot happening in my life during the months before I was to depart on my first solo trip. – Moving out of my rental house, finishing student teaching, determining where I would live after graduation, securing all my final credits, and beginning the daunting task of applying for jobs.
Time was moving and I was checking off the boxes, but in the pit of my stomach, there was a fear. A fear of the unknown. Up until this point in my life, I had always known the next step, the next door to open, the next path to take.
But in the months before my first solo trip, my future was unclear. With the checklists complete, the applications submitted, and my tassel turned over for one full day, I hugged my mom goodbye outside Washington-Dulles and walked directly into my future — of complete unknown.
As I watched strangers move through the confluence of an international airport terminal, I envied the certainty of their movements. I was scared of what lay ahead. I was twenty-one-years-old and flying to a foreign country alone.
But life has a way of bringing people into your world at the exact moment you need them. My seat neighbor was an older woman returning home to visit family. She helped me practice Spanish while calling the flight attendants back for more glasses of wine. The sweet red paired with the delightful conversation eased my anxiety. Upon landing, this woman talked to the customs agent while I stood waiting in line. The agent waved me forward, stamped my passport, and ushered me on. My only word was simply, “Gracias.” This woman waited until I found my ride, and after ensuring I was safe, hugged and kissed me on both cheeks.
I never saw her again, but the lights of Lima, Peru glowed brighter than I could have ever dreamed.