The Me-Who-Was: The Possible End of The Suitcase Scholar
This is not a story about travel. This is a story about not-travel.
Everyone said that going through what I went through–the whole cancer slash major surgery thing–would fundamentally change who I am. When people said this, I would get really mad. I’m not going to change, I insisted. That was my singular goal. Return to the me-who-was.
Early last month, I wrote about my next trip, a week and a half in Paris. Yesterday I packed my backpack, checked in to my flight, and added my virtual boarding pass to Apple Wallet. This morning I got up, called the airline, cancelled my flight, emailed the hotel, cancelled my room, and apologized profusely to my now-going-solo travel companion (I am so sorry, friend.)
Why did I do this? To quote myself circa last night at 9:32pm:
Because I don’t want to. Because adventure is fun, except I do adventure for a living and I’m so, so tired. Because I don’t feel well. Because when I eat, I get sick. Zero exceptions. Because I need life to be easy for a while. Because I’m looking at this as work, not leisure. And because I feel you’d forgive me for not going more easily than you’d forgive me for being what I will be on this trip–which is sad, stressed, starving, and difficult.
That was the message I sent to my travel companion when she asked me why, at the actual eleventh hour, I was thinking about not going. I wrote it with my thumbs, on my phone, after maybe three glasses of wine. It is the most true thing I’ve ever written.
The me-who-was is dead. I laid in bed last night, quite awake, thinking about this. To be sure, I did not want to go to Paris today. What I wanted (and what I’m going to do) was to spend a week and a half at home, drinking ice water on the back porch (hydration is a luxury I can’t afford when on the road) reading books made out of actual paper pages, and dusting underneath my unused television (seriously, it’s a dust bunny horror show under there.) I’d also really like to cut all of the dead leaves off of my houseplants, have lunch with my mom a bunch of times, and teach my new puppy how to walk on a leash (and maybe also get him to stop crapping on the kitchen floor.)
But here’s the thing. The me-who-was would have wanted to do those things, too. But the me-who-was wouldn’t have been able to admit it. The me-who-was would have gone to Paris and been miserable and sick and starving and stressed. And she would have taken lots of pretty photos and post-processed them into a shining Paris dream come true and plastered them all over her blog and her personal Facebook page as if to say look at me, I’m doing ok.
I don’t have it in me to do any of that anymore. I don’t care if people think I’m ok. And that? That’s the most ok a person can be.
So is this really the end of The Suitcase Scholar? I don’t know. I do know that for now, I’m done traveling for the sake of traveling. Of course, I will still be traveling, as it is a required part of my job and I love my job and honestly, most of the time I love traveling for work.
But I don’t feel particularly compelled to share what I’m doing with the world. In fact, I’m borderline annoyed at myself for feeling the need to even write this post. It all feels so overly dramatic. I didn’t go to Paris, and now I have to make some big pronouncement about it? Why? Why can’t I just make a cup of tea, pick up a book, and sit on the porch and smile like a normal person?
Do you know what? I can do that.
I’m going to go do that. Right. Now.