I’m sitting at the Lisbon airport, not even half way through my 22 hour layover before I board the plane for Ghana. My computer screen says it’s 12:34 a.m, my phone says it’s 2:34 a.m. Neither one of them is right. The only things keeping me awake are my caffeinated nerve endings and the overnight floor buffers.
This morning I went to bed at 5 a.m., laughing and smiling after a week spent eating food with my hands and breaking more than one Moroccan law. Five hours later I was sitting in the backseat of a taxi, wishing my quivering lip and blurry eyes could wait a few more minutes before spilling over.
My head and heart feel like scrambled eggs. I can’t tell up from down and all I want is to take you up on your offer to stay. To sleep a few more hours in your bed, to listen to Bob Marley’s “Red Wine” one more time.
“You always want everyone to be the one,” my sister jokingly reminds me to my chagrin. She’s right, though. I do this with both people and places. When I was five years old I fell for the first boy to give me a flower he handpicked and stuck in the back pocket of my Winnie the Pooh overalls. I held onto this crush for eight years, driving my family mad with my obsession and the constant need to play “On my own” from Les Miserable on the piano.
When I was 13 my family and I took a vacation to Belize in Central America. I fell head over heels for the spider monkeys hanging from the jungle trees and the mysterious aura surrounding the shrouded Mayan ruins. I ate the red beans and rice mixture served daily with enthusiasm and tried strawberry Fanta for the first time. I also promised my family I’d live there some day. I had a whole plan that involved farming and starting an orphanage in the hillsides.
As I’ve aged my love for people and exotic locations has only grown, encompassing places from Arizona to Africa, and people from Mexico to Morocco.
During my travels this overflowing love for everyone and everything I encounter is starting to be a bit of a problem. Finding the one place, the one person to keep me still has been a constant challenge. I can’t pick one. “You need to focus or you’re going to miss out on what you really want.” (There she goes again, my sister with her words of wisdom).
I’m having a hard time focusing. I’m caught in a whirlwind of travel and emotion, my perspective peppered with debris from the last place and the people I’ve left behind. The things I want are spinning all around me and sometimes I think I can identify what they are but the dust never settles long enough for further examination. I’ve been creating these whirlwinds and kicking up a storm my whole life. Curiosity propels me onward even when I’m asked to stay. Even when I want to stay.
Scrambled eggs. I ate scrambled eggs almost every day for breakfast this week, an old habit from home I rarely indulge in on the road. I slept in and took my time exploring a city that grew more beautiful day by day, I went horseback riding on the beach and careened through narrow streets on the back of a moto, holding my breath and holding on.
I stood on the deck of a boat and watched as fisherman hauled in their catch of sardines, shouting and tossing crates of cargo up the assembly line effortlessly. I absorbed the colors and sounds of Essaouira eagerly, craving the warmth and vitality it expresses.
Morocco has animated my travel weary spirit and made me feel human again. It’s reawakened a sense of wonder and connectedness to a life that is bursting at the seams. I’m not sure if Morocco is the one or just another stop along the way. Today I’m boarding a plane that will take me further on down the road. But I’m earmarking this page in the story of my journey. I’m holding my place and holding my breath until I can return. I have a promise to keep.