Monday, May 31, 2010

Day One

My strongest instinct right now is to run. Just run, straight back to Rexburg.

It's the same feeling I had the first day of my Euro-trip. Our tour directors sent us out to explore Galway. I linked on to a group of about ten people (far too large for travel, by the way) and we wandered the streets of a touristy little Irish city. At first, my bravado propelled me into a flippant leadership role: "I don't know if this is the right way, but what have we got to lose? Let's try it!" The other ten girls complied easily enough. However, as the shops thinned out, so did my bravado. We turned around.

I spent the remainder of the trip as a ready and willing follower, and the remainder of the day as an anxious small-town American.While Galway isn't huge, it was still formidable to my Oxford, North Carolina and Rexburg, Idaho sensibilities. The rub of people and streets in big cities blisters those sensibilities very quickly.

So, Salt Lake is reminding me of that right now. I miss familiar faces. I have said goodbye far too many times in the last week: the 40 other pilgrims, my parents, my sister and her family, Tim, Natalie, Chelsea, and finally my little brother this morning. Joe has been the PERFECT roadtrip companion, so parting ways at the airport almost provoked tears. It didn't help any that he took the GPS with him. I hate finding my way around. I don't know where the nearest gas station is, where to look for apartments, OR how to navigate all the blasted construction. The only thing I know is that the little town that holds my best friends is straight north on I-15.

However, that is not the path I intend to take.

Like the clothing and toiletries and electronics waiting on my bed, I carefully lay out all of the reasons I'm not on my way to Idaho right now. Inconvenience is a big one, seeing as it's a 3 or 4 hour drive. My dignity is another. I know they wouldn't mind, but as hard as today is, I would be humiliated to suddenly hurl myself back into Tim, Natalie, and Chelsea's arms.

These factors helped me to stay in Europe, too. You can imagine how inconvenient it would have been to turn around and fly home again. And how ridiculous I would have looked to unexpectedly arrive at the door of Kensington 205, while the pilgrimage went on without me. And yet, I think the real motivation for staying in Europe is the same one that will keep me here in Utah. Now that I've worked through a few panicked compulsions, I remember that I do, in fact, have a sense of adventure.

This brassy streak, like a thread of gold through cooler-hued stone, is a valuable and sometimes subtle aspect of my personality. It's the fight response beneath the flight. It inspires me to be excited about my 3pm appointment to inspect an apartment. It reminds me that I looked forward to this internship as a prospect of impressing professionals in my chosen field. It's the same thread of "shining dawn", to translate the Latin, that made the hole-in-the-wall hostel in Galway endearing. There, I made an amusing video of the labyrinthine path up to my room. Here, I write an exploratory blog post. And in both places, I try to hear Tim's voice in my head, telling me that I'm brave. It's a good thing I can hear it in my head, or I might run away to Rexburg to hear it in person.

But no. I sit here quietly and try to feel him patting me on the back, and to you, readers, I echo his words:

It's okay, Sara. You're going to do just fine.

Thanks, Tim...maybe you're right.