When planes and plans are grounded, it's time for travel lovers to help others - and themselves.
On March 12, 2020, I told friends that it felt like a tiny part of me had died.
After weeks of distressing reports about the spread of COVID-19 - and an equal amount of time whereby I stoutly resolved to keep calm and carry on - the writing was on the wall. There was clearly no way that I would be able to take a long-hoped for trip to Paris in April.
This wasn't just any trip. This was THE trip. I was turning 40 and I was moving to Paris - solo! - for a month, to write and eat and dream. Bookended by a layover in London and a trip to the United States, it was due to be my longest solo adventure since I was 24 years old. Until, of course, it wasn't. I say I made the decision not to go, but in reality the decision was made for me. Within 24 hours of my choice to withdraw, borders were closing, the news cycle went into overdrive, and I hunkered down into my home, happily choosing social distancing for everyone's benefit.
I felt like a tiny part of me had died. And I was filled with shame.
What right did I have to be crying (and let me tell you, there was crying) over missed macarons and museums when people were dying, when people's entire livelihoods were evaporating in front of them? I thought of the people of Italy, an entire nation quarantined, finding solace in community song, joining their voices together from the safe distance of apartment balconies to comfort one another in their grief. What right did I have to feel sad?
But my online community disagreed. Several people reached out to say that it's both normal and expected to feel sorrow for those in need and to also be sad that someone you really wanted did not work out. That it's okay to feel blue when your dream dies, even if it was a dream built on pretty, dainty, cozy things, and you can still have tremendous empathy for those who are also suffering in their own way. Pandemic self-care for travel lovers can acknowledge and incorporate both.
On the banks of the Chobe River, an elephant mourning ritual shows that the cycle of life and death has never been so raw.
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