One year ago today, December 15, I returned home from the UK. From what I remember, I was smiling and happy to be safe at home. Countless family members and friends commented on a picture of me with my family that day and said “glad you’re home safe!” I thought nothing of it—of course I was safe, why wouldn’t I be? But now, I understand the concern. One year from that day, December 15, and I’ve heard about too many terrorist attacks to count, and some even in places I visited while abroad. I can’t say that doesn’t scare me; I’d be lying if I did. But that doesn’t change the fact that I relish every moment stepped outside American soil. In fact, I’d do it all over again even now.
If you read any post on this blog, you’ll know I fell in love with a city that couldn’t love me back. It feels like I left a lover behind and we’ve cut all ties; I haven’t felt so lonely. The only consolation is the friends I made while there because they know my struggles like no one else will. Even though I can’t see them every day, the fact that they experienced London and Europe like I did is comforting. It makes the whole expedition seem more real.
A year later, I find myself looking at TimeHop and wishing for a second chance at exploration. Or a third. Fourth. Fifth, if I’m lucky. I love everything I did the first time around and wouldn’t change it for the world, but I want to go back. I want to experience everything for the first time again. I want to see the lights, hear the sounds, feel the bricks, eat the food. I want to feel the sting of loss as I leave the United States and the calming relief of touching down in Heathrow with the knowledge that my love is waiting beyond the gates. I want a lot of things that happened last year. The unfortunate reality is that the world isn’t safe, and experiences won’t be the same no matter how many times they’re played over again. I want to love travel, but terrorism wants me to cower in fear while sitting on my cushy beanbag chair, eating popcorn, and watching the news. I refuse to let it.
While of course money is a problem in the sense that I have none just floating around, fear is also a large issue. I am terrified of the prospect of leaving my home, my country, and then flying across the ocean to land closer to the action than I’m comfortable with. However, I’ve done it. Last year, ISIS was still a threat. Before them, countless unnamed and infamous groups. Despite their existence, I can say that I’ve traveled across the ocean to England, France, Ireland, and Italy and didn’t once feel unsafe. Traveling won’t keep you from the danger; it’ll make your life richer even as you encounter it.
Some might say “staying safe” is staying at home in comfort and isolation, but I can’t imagine a life where I don’t step outside. The world is too large to stay in one spot and fully live, so don’t let the fear of possibility keep you from going. Traveling. Experiencing. Wandering. Living.
I know it won’t stop me. Until next time, London. Stay lovely.