I am sitting in seat 18F on Virgin America flight ninety-seven, non-stop from Washington Dulles to Los Angeles International. In four days I will be on Air Pacific flight eight-eleven non-stop service to Nadi, Fiji. And on the twenty-fifth of February I will be on Air Pacific flight four-thirteen non-stop to Auckland. Three one way tickets will take me from the truest home I have ever known to a place I have never been, and where I know not a single soul, for the next year. A month ago this was all just a tempting joke, a crazy idea, a reckless dream, and now my plane is taking off. I press my head to the cool plastic of the window, refreshing against my skin in the stifling cabin, and watch D.C. miniaturize before my eyes. As eighteen-wheelers turn to ants, the white remnants of the third blizzard in this historic winter swallow the last detail of the landscape. Soon only the winding black veins of pavement, cutting through the mounds of dirty snow in mountainous piles around the city, are visible. As we ascend, the gritty city dirty fades away, and as the snow suddenly appears as pure as the moment it fell, I whisper farewell to Washington.

There is a strange feeling slithering around me, squeezing my limbs slow and strong as a snake, as I hold one foot over the edge, eyes wide open, more than ready to follow with the next. It is excitement that electrifies my skin, tinged with nervous curiosity that tightens my belly, and pangs bittersweet when I think of the ones I love and left behind. It is a feeling that I have never felt before and though people tell me i should be scared shitless, and making a plan, or predicting the future, I am not. I want to not know what is going to happen. I want to stumble from one place to the next as the universe guides me blindly through strangers and coincidence. I want to be ready for anything and open to everything and say no to nothing and find that something that feeds my wandering soul, that has kept my roots from searching the same soil for too long. And no part of me doubts that I will.

As I wake from a painfully uncomfortable excuse for a nap, my eyes burn with the need for real sleep, fighting my racing mind and famished body. Raising the window shade, bright white pierces my heavy eyes and I realize I slept through the long, eventless stretch of fly-over states. The Rocky Mountains rise jagged like scars on the vast body of America, and pure, powdery white tops the ridges and valleys past the hazy edge of the expansive horizon. As I gaze down on the formidable landscape, I wonder how the birds see New Zealand, with which strangers I will find love, and what kind of girl I will have grown into when I find myself wandering back to the family of people I love in the District. The best part is not knowing.

As the plane touched down in the soft crepuscular light over the Hollywood Hills, I twisted my aching body against the seat, and reestablished communication with the outside world after five long hours of clear skies and red eyes (say word). As my luck of late would have it, my inbox held a fortuitous inquiry: a strong travel writer available from March through April needed to come to South Africa, all expenses paid, to assist in finishing a travel guide in time for the World Cup. Amazing. With the thrill of possibility already rising in my chest, I read on. The ideal individual is able to eat out three times a day and go out to bars on weekends, is comfortable with living in hostels on a budget, is flexible and has a sense of humor, and has experience traveling, preferably within Africa. Unbelievable. It was like reading a synopsis of my life, a description of the very dream I had been chasing. It felt as though the moment I let go of certainty and control, the universe opened up to me.

Everything was aligning effortlessly and those bittersweet pangs that haunted my contemplative mind on the plane were quickly overwhelmed by the sweet, addictive high that comes with a new unknown adventure and boundless possibility. If they could fly me round trip to Africa from New Zealand I could be back in New Zealand by April with nine months before my visa expires. It’s perfect. Still just a hope, an opportunity, I wait to learn upon where I stumble next. Perhaps in two weeks I will cross the South Pacific only to continue on over the Indian as well, and find myself in the cradle of humanity once again, exactly one year from the first time I journeyed there. And if the winds don’t blow me toward South Africa, then I’ll take my wandering soul to the Northland and learn how to surf in the last sweet weeks of Kiwi summer.

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