After obsessing about it for seven months, I finally decided to go on a trip to Germany and Switzerland because I wanted to stop worrying about money and start living with no regrets. But I was still wasn’t excited about the trip until the day we left because, as with the meditation retreat in California, I was consumed by seemingly insignificant details. Things like:
What kind of clothes should I pack? Will I be able to wear anything other than tennis shoes? How cold do I need to dress for the glacier?
Which luggage should I bring? Is there any way I can weigh my luggage without having to get on a scale? Because that might depress me.
What should I do about my snoring? I can’t pack my GERD pillow. Should I go to my dentist and get one of those mouth guards?
Should I try to get cell service? Would that make me obsess about my tennis teams the whole time? Can I go 10 days without texting?
Will I get along with my roommate? Will I feel like an outsider, since everyone else has some kind of German connection? Will I go crazy without having any alone time?
While my travel companions were excitedly researching our hotels and itinerary, I could barely name two cities we were visiting. Which my friends thought was weird. Which brought up those feelings of not being normal. But I tried to practice self-acceptance and reminded myself that this is who I am. I obsess about all of the things I have to do before I can look forward to any trip. At some point, I would know what city I was in. Hopefully.
And luckily, once I was there, I was fully present. I got a few emails about tennis but didn’t try to fix everything as I normally would. I didn’t obsess about my sleep cycle, even though I got very little sleep. I wasn’t anxious at all on the trip–which is astounding. I didn’t worry about how much I was eating or whether I looked fat in pictures. I just enjoyed the experience of being in another country.
The trip exceeded my expectations in so many ways. Switzerland was breathtaking. The scenery was so beautiful it almost hurt to look at it. No wonder Federer lives there! I tried to take in every detail and store it in memory for future reference. So that when I need an image to make me feel calm, I can close my eyes and remember how it felt to be in the presence of so much beauty.
I got to feel like I was in my early 20’s again, which was an unexpected gift. I sang and danced in the rain, stalked band members, and took hundreds of pictures of stuffed animals. Sometimes when I look at happy family pictures on Facebook, I feel this envy and uncertainty about how I live my life. It doesn’t seem very adult-like. But the feeling of euphoria I had on this trip would not have been possible unless my life were exactly as it is.
Even though I only knew one person in the group, I felt at home with my travel companions. No moments of insecurity about being accepted. About saying the wrong thing or embarrassing myself. I even blew out all of the power in our hotel with my hairdryer and no one held it against me!
And on my way home I wasn’t sad, even though I would never be able to repeat this experience again. And I wasn’t anxious about returning to the stress of tennis drama, boredom, and loneliness. Today, four days after the trip, I still feel happy when I remember how much fun I had. But I also feel happy about returning to my life of playing tennis and eating out with my friends.
I’m sure at some point this dream-like state will fade, but for now I will allow myself to enjoy this feeling for as long as it lasts.