Traveling to Jordan to study Arabic has been two years in the planning stages for me. I finished my checklist before it was time to go, and then waiting stressed out both my partner and me.
That anticipation lured my brain into the future. We’re not having this conversation for its own merits – it’s one of “the last ones” before I go. So that conversation has to be perfect, savored, and in a way it’s objectified. Too much anticipation disconnects you from reality, thinking about how you’ll look back on the present or planning out the memories you’ll make before you’re anywhere near them.
Circumstances conspired to keep me (figuratively) grounded though. For days prior to my flight I stayed up at night talking, plus my body refused to sleep during my 11 hours in the air. I increasingly lost the brainpower to think ahead. I hadn’t planned out what I would say to my partner at the airport, so I hadn’t steeled myself not to cry. In security, I needed a distraction from heartache and chose people-watching over more verbal activities. When the very professional Austrian Airline stewards brought me my breakfast sandwich, my brain contented itself with eating it. When we arrived a little late in Vienna, I was on autopilot to my next gate. On the next plane I read my guidebook, and just couldn’t wonder about how the visa process would go, or whether my school would really send a driver, or if my hostel reservation would be honored, or where I would get dinner. But when the time for each of those things happened, I followed the plan I had laid out for myself.
I made it and everything has been smooth, if a little abrupt after all that anticipation. Suddenly I’m here, and I’m speaking Arabic with the school driver – maybe I should be taking pictures out the window, or I should have studied more Jordanian colloquial particularities, yikes! But I’m not, and I didn’t. Whatever I’m saying now will have to be good enough, because I didn’t script it earlier and I can’t edit it later.
…Though I’ll probably rough sketch an itinerary when I wake up from my nap.