Editor’s note: this is a very personal confession of my life. It’s not so much about flying, but on my own relationships, struggles, and uncertainties; which I guess—ultimately— is very much what this blog has always been about. I hope you enjoy what I feel is a rare form of my writing, especially as the popularity of this website grows. Much love, Kara.
I was feeling the effects of the last four months; a devastating dating disaster which had resulted in heartbreak. A demanding freelance writing and blogging agenda that I didn’t know how to break free from—even if for a day—and a constant flying schedule that meant I was continually jet-lagged. My life felt like I had jumped into a murky ocean and was holding my breath underwater. My oxygen was now running low, but I couldn’t see the surface. Catching my breath seemed impossible—unreachable and distant. I was drowning.
I was always traveling and going places, but something inside me begged for an escape. Something in me needed to disappear from who I thought I had to live up to. I was drowning amidst my “perfect” life of travel, writing, and adventures. No one really knew this but me. My parents may have understood a little, but I don’t believe anyone knew to the extent I was floundering. I berated myself, because I wasn’t sure what I needed to “fix me.” Time, maybe? But, that didn’t seem like an option with the constant going that my lifestyle required. Many find themselves with an opposite problem than I; the problem of being ‘too settled.’ I hated to complain about the way my life was, as it was such a gift, but it felt like it was killing me. Maybe not yet physically, but emotionally I was spent.
I also wished that I had never ever met him. I couldn’t help but miss him. I wanted to erase the memories or change the result. I hated that I hurt so much. I hated that I was rejected and recently replaced. I hated that I could not control my hurt. It stung like the surprising sting and lasting burn of the jellyfishes’ tentacles that had wrapped themselves thoroughly around my legs while kiteboarding in the Philippines. That pain had lasted for weeks, reminding me to always wear the protective fabric of surf pants while in the water. Where does one buy protective surf pants for heart pains?
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For months I was fighting, floundering and continuing to hold my breath in a sea of uncertainty and sadness. It wasn’t that I was unhappy with my life overall, I was just hurt. I was uncertain of where I was going with my career and simply sad over still being single. I deemed my efforts as ‘falling short;’ feeling slightly unsuccessful and always second-best. I was tired of trying so hard, of my life being so public, and of The Flight Attendant Life that I had created. I dreamed of what it would feel like to reinvent myself as someone else; someone lovable, peaceful, unknown. And successful. I day dreamed of what it would be like to not be a flight attendant blogging about her life. I dreamed of what it could be like writing for me once again. I dreamed of what it could be like to be free and feel like all that I worked for was enough.
I dreamed of what it would feel like to always feel like I was enough.
I never felt like I was enough for him. Maybe I wasn’t skinny enough, I told myself. That was always my go-to story when something broke me. Although I had been using that statement less than in years past, I still used it. The rational and kind voice in my head told me that I was doing the best that I could in my relationships, with my blog, in my job, and life in general. But, the mean side told me to just stop trying. That it wasn’t worth it. I prayed to find my peace, place, and purpose, but my prayers seemed to go unanswered. During these past four months of continuous questioning, my savior had become the beach, many bike rides, writing… And kiteboarding.
Whenever it was windy, I dropped everything to go kiteboarding. Kiting introduced me to a new circle of people, including Derek; the dark-haired Southerner who had a smile I would swim in, and a personality so loud, that it would drown out any thoughts of the one who I lost. I was so thankful for his presence in my life and appreciated the friendship which developed over wave watching and wind hoping. When the wind showed up, it blew away my worries and anxious thoughts. I could breathe again and for an afternoon, I felt free and at peace. I focused most of my attention on when and where I could go kiteboarding. I was so thankful to have something— anything— to replace the man who I thought would be “my person.” I’ve since realized that the most damage that has resulted is that I doubt my own judgement.
This is what had culminated in my need for Mexico. I had cried looking out the airplane window after departing Ft Lauderdale; writing in my journal a prayer to disappear from all that was familiar. I was tired of movement, but was still moving. This was different though. I believed that Mexico would result in magic and in some ways, I had my wish. In other ways, it was more than I could wish.
I arrived to the kite school and hotel—about an hour north of Cancun—to discover there was no wifi. For the first time in seven years, I was forced to disconnect from clients, blogging, and digital life. I felt myself breathe a little more, I felt a little more light. “You want to go for a kite?” the manager of the kite school said almost immediately after I arrived. “YESSSS!” I gushed enthusiastically. Kiting was the reason I was surrounded by a hot sun, swaying palm-trees, and flat warm water. Kiting was the reason I spent money, flew here, took a taxi to an unknown location, and traveled alone. Kiting was my escape artist and go-to soul refreshment tactic.
In Mexico, I didn’t have to be a flight attendant. I couldn’t speak the language. I wasn’t good at kiteboarding and didn’t need to be the best. I could just be there. Be here. Be now. And that was enough. Waiting for the wind was enough. Gliding over the water and watching the sunset snuggle beneath the horizon was enough. A little wind was enough. A lot of wind was enough.
Whatever it was, it was always enough.
Mexico didn’t help me know to any better extent if I really wanted beach life 100 percent of the time. It was quiet for me—the rhythm slower, the pace different and even difficult for me. I wasn’t used to being this isolated or this accepted by people who didn’t know me or didn’t know what I did. “Did you have fun out there?” was the question. “Do you want to come to a barbecue?” “How long do you stay?” It was simple. It didn’t need to be what it wasn’t. It could rest in what it was.
Just four days. I didn’t know if I could stay longer. I never know if I can stay. And, part of me wanted to extend my days, but the wind was waning and my other reason— the sweet, hot, and fun to kiss Argentine kite instructor— seemed like more of a gamble than the wind. Yet, I left missing him more than I should after only such a short time and quite sad over one more goodbye; over one more man that I didn’t have a chance to really get to know. One more person who I would wonder over, “Would we actually get along and have this much chemistry if this was ‘real life?’ Would he actually think I was beautiful, inside and out, if he knew me better? Would I actually be enough for him or am I just another, ‘nice idea?'” These questions are much more scary to answer than taking the option to go. Will I ever stay for someone else or will it always be about what I have to do next? Will it always be about where I’m going next? Will I ever take the risk to let someone fall in love with me and I with them?
The 23 year-old in me can’t help but hope Santi will remember me and soon, we will see each other again. But time, experience, and travel have proved that in most cases, beautiful moments remain as that and not a lasting eternal treasure. Somewhere in me, there is the younger version of myself that hopes; always hopes. Of course, I will eternally hope that this next one, whomever that is, will be the one who can travel with me through the difficulties, distance, and dreams. I always hope that the next place will capture me enough to stay. I always hope that this next person will be my last goodbye. I’m realizing that maybe nothing will capture me completely and at some point, I simply have to accept the risk and embrace the vulnerability that is part of letting someone near me and letting someone stay in my life.
When he kissed me goodbye—communication that transcended both of our native languages— I knew he understood everything that our moment was, what we both hoped for, and everything that was at risk in the future. What it could never be, or the slight chance that maybe somewhere in the world, we would find ourselves on another beach. Flying across the water with kites in the air; smiling as we passed and happy over the fact that we had one more magical moment together. We would land on the sand and share a salty, sweet kiss as the sun dipped below the horizon, welcoming the next magical moment into existence.
I’ll be looking for you in that next magical moment. I promise to start living as if this one I am in is enough as it is. Whatever it is or isn’t and whatever it could or could not be. Maybe that’s the only way to find and keep magic.