I locked eyes with the woman sitting next to me, and we looked at each other with sheer terror. “This is it,” I thought to myself, “this is how I die.” I wish I had called my mom to tell her how much I love her before this flight. I still had so much in life I wanted to do, this was too soon. My thoughts were interrupted by another loud shout at the back of the plane. I closed my eyes and fervently began repeating to myself, “Everything is going to be okay, everything is going to be okay, it’s not my time yet.”
I left my friend’s apartment at 5:00 a.m. before the sun was out. I gave her a big hug and an even bigger thank you for being such a wonderful host. “At first I was nervous about making it all the way to India by myself, but I feel so excited for what’s next. Thank you. For everything.” She smiled warmly and handed me a cucumber and tomato sandwich, “For the road.” She said a few more things to the taxi driver in Hindi and demanded I text her as soon I made it to the airport. Now I was on my own.
The thirty-minute taxi ride ended up costing me less than $5. What a bargain. When I got off, I pulled my backpack straps on tightly and confidently began walking in what I was hoping was the right direction. As I approached the entrance, the security officer began speaking to me in Hindi, and I laughed, “Sorry, I’m Mexican.” He chuckled and said, “My apologies, you look India,” and after closely examining my documents, he cheerfully waved me forward, “Have a wonderful day.” Everyone in the airport was all smiles as I checked in my two bags and got through security.
I made it to my gate with half an hour to spare, so I took a seat and ate the delicious sandwich my host had packed for me, as well as one of the many Kind bars I had stashed in my backpack. Everything was going smoothly. Boarding was supposed to begin at 6:30 a.m., but it was 6:25 a.m. and there was only one other woman waiting there too. “Attention, announcing a last minute gate change, all of those on Flight 560, please promptly make your way over to Gate 32,” boomed a voice on the overhead. I grabbed my backpack and sprinted from 24 to 32, getting there just in time.
I took a seat and breathed a sigh of relief. Phew. Made it. It would be a quick flight, less than 1.5 hours to Hyderabad where I would catch another plane to Goa. I put on my seatbelt and played with my phone for a bit until my connection was so lousy that I gave up and put it on airplane mode.
I was in seat 23, just a few rows away from the bathroom. There weren’t many people on board, no kids either, so it was quiet. We would be taking off in less than five minutes. A loud voice at the back of the plane shattered the silence. Someone was shouting at the flight attendant. The yelling escalated. I had no idea what they were saying, but all of the passengers around me were looking towards the back with panic in their eyes.
My mind automatically went to the worst place. Something awful was about to happen. Bomb. Terrorist. Death. I go out solo all the time and feel very comfortable traveling alone, but at that moment, I was terrified. Because I couldn’t understand what was going on, I assumed the worst. It hit me like an ocean wave overpowering a child sitting too close to the shore. I thought of my mom, my friends, my loved ones, and I closed my eyes, silently praying that everything would be okay.
The shouting stopped.
I tried to ask the woman sitting next to me if she knew what happened, but she didn’t speak English. Everyone looked bewildered. I gave up trying to understand it. For all I know, the passenger was just some guy who refused to put his seatbelt on. It didn’t matter anymore.
The plane took off, and I felt grateful. The flight itself was uneventful. Smooth with no turbulence. But the landing shocked me. When the tires violently hit the tar, I let out a loud gasp. I could feel tears forming in my eyes, but I fought back because I did not want to be the solo woman on the plane crying.
I took my phone off of airplane mode and immediately texted my loved ones, I was in a state of disbelief. When I got off of the plane I found a bathroom, locked myself in a stall, and sobbed. “Bask in the perspective of the sensitivity of life,” my friend told me. I was the last person to get on the next flight.
The next four weeks will consist of my yoga teacher training Monday through Saturday 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. When I finish in Goa, I will embark on a mostly solo exploration of SE Asia for two and a half months. At the end of my trip, I will hopefully be meeting up with friends in Bali. And then I would like to head to Europe for a few weeks where I’ll be couchsurfing with friends for as long as my bank account allows. After that, I don’t know what’s coming next. I would like to come to Atlanta to see my best friends graduate, I would like to move out to the West Coast, I would like to explore everything the world has to offer.
Right now I am aimlessly wandering on a journey with no destination because the journey itself is the goal. May we all embrace 2017 fearlessly. The only thing certain in life is death, but if I have to choose I’d rather die on the way to Goa chasing adventure then die in a car crash on the way to buy groceries.