Travelling in a Time of COVID-19

LEAVING

So I booked the flight, one way only, booked the hotel, with a strong cancellation policy, and FINALLY, I could breathe again.

If I’m honest I cannot say that I hesitated, even for a second, before booking my flight to the tiny country of Malta, even in the midst of Toronto being in stage 2 of the world’s most aggressive pandemic since the last plague. I needed to go go go! get out! get moving! To salvage at least some of my goals for 2020 before COVID truly immobilized me in the hysteria of fear and uncertainty.

I know this isn’t most peoples experience with this virus. I know many are still afraid, uncertain, and even frozen between the very natural instinct of fight or flight. I’ve seen all the memes of how 2020 is a write off year, or how it sucks, and how the Rapture is coming by Christmas. I am determined this is not the case for me. I don’t want a write off year, and I don’t want a write off life. Someone once told me life is not a spectator sport, and it was then that I realized how long I spent watching, or hoping, or “dreaming”. It was then I decided to stop using the word dream, and live my life awake and with agency. I no longer say it’s my dream to do this, or that, I say it’s my goal. Goals are achievable, dreams are better left to sleep.

What will await me on the other side of the pond? What wonders will I face alone in this ghost town of a world where people look out through their visors and smile through their masks?

Here’s some of the things I plan to do: I plan to write every day. I plan to go to every temple and museum, or church, that lets me in. Within these ancient sacred spaces I hope to pause, sit, and breathe in the space, time, and energy of an empty world. I plan to shake off the fear that permeates the air I struggle breathe in through my mask, and live my life unapologetically. I plan to eat my fill of every delicious meal along the Mediterranean coast, and soak up the sunlight and the heat. I hope to take you with me on this journey so that maybe you too, will be inspired to step outside your comfort zone, and breathe in an adventure with me.

Leaving YYZ! 👏🏼👏🏼

A MORTGEN IN FRANKFURT

I am becoming somewhat of an airport connoisseur 😆. Or a customs connoisseur tbh. Breathing deeply through customs tearing through my bag. Pausing before demanding to know why my water was thrown out while the family behind me got to keep theirs. But most importantly, I am trying to get used to how people, mostly men, talk to me when I’m alone. It’s not lecherous or flirtatious, it’s more like they are talking to someone they have yet to figure out. Always with a bit of a question at the end of their sentences, like they are asking a question but it’s not really the question they want to ask: “Is this yours miss?” “Umm, was it an American coffee you wanted?” “Are you trying to plug in your phone in the charger here?” I’ve never noticed it before, but either I’m too aware of my solitude or they are not aware enough that women travel alone.

Waiting to get on the plane from Frankfurt to Malta

That being said one of the more frustrating things about travelling alone is trying to gage how much of my genuine life I need to share with people like hotel managers, tourist guides, even waiters in the airport restaurants. I can hear my mother’s voice in my head, “They take women all the time for sex trafficking you know” or all my worried friends saying “have fun” and “stay safe”. Which of course they mean in a loving and protective way, but it is a constant reminder that in this female body, I am inherently at risk. So, I stay battle ready. Stay safe. Always.

How you ask? Well, I wear my wedding band that I haven’t worn since literally the first month of our marriage 23 years ago, and I pretend I am going to visit family at my destination. I very carefully decide where and when to post my location on sm. All this to ‘stay safe’. All this because I live in this body, and I dare to use this body to move across the world at my own free will and and of my own decisions.

But it’s not all fear and loathing 😝, I am filled with contentment and joy at being alone in airport waiting spaces. I watch couples walking hand in hand, and families corralling their children, with no animosity or judgement. That is not my path. Much of it probably has to do with the fact that I also lived those experiences. Travelling with my husband and the kids has been one of my favourite past times, and each and every one of those experiences are a fond memory. But I am on this path now. On my own journey. A journey I chose for myself, and I cannot wait to start! A journey alone, unplanned, uncharted and completely without a schedule. For someone who has worked 5 jobs, 60 hours a week for two decades, this journey is indescribably freeing. I am almost afraid to be this happy. This untethered. A boat with no anchor, a feather in the wind.

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