17 SEPTEMBER 2017
Ten years ago, I was havin’ a real hard time assimilating back into ‘real life’. I’d just come back from 9 months of workin, wandering and philosophizing about life from St. Petersburg to Cape Town and landed back in West Texas the day before classes at my university started. Nothing had changed. People were the same. The place was the same. But, I was anything but the same.
Closing my eyes, I sink back into her skin. That fearless and fierce young woman who left seeking her path, found freedom, heartbreak and answers she wouldn’t come to understand for a decade.
She somehow talked her way into being chosen for a Congressional Internship with her university. In a pencil skirt that felt like a Halloween costume to her free spirit, she worked in politics mainly because D.C was close to Boston, New York and other weekend travel adventures. A fish out of water, she glued herself to google to manage in her position that somehow promoted her to staff until the new hiree could come in May. She reveled living in the big city. She devoured every inch of it. And, despite such a positive experience, knew politics weren’t for her. Not that she really knew what was. And, she had the itch again. To travel. To live. To experience life. So, she decided she’d go and try all the things that interested her to decide what to do when she got back home. It seemed that simple. It was that simple.
She sold all her prized possessions, save four of which she’d give away on her travels. She would go to Russia, where the literature and language had intrigued her for some time, she’d work an archaeological dig, she’d experience the Middle East and her roots, she’d see Africa. She’d figure everything out.
And her world view was blown. In every possible way. Her perceptions, beliefs, understandings. A long story for another day.
I remember sitting on the Mediterranean Coast, working amongst thousands of years of history on a massive archaeological dig, looking to the sea and wondering… Do I believe in God because I actually believe in Him or because I’m afraid not to? And I cried and cried realizing it was from fear. And let it go, into the sea. Let God go. And felt terror and peace all at the same time.
Looking back, that was the single MOST powerful and important moment of my life. It released me. Tore away all the façade, expectation, conditioning and left me wide open to everything. To find my OWN beliefs. To find MYSELF. Free. Terrifyingly free. And more confused than ever.
I didn’t come home with anything but vastness, expansion like the universe occurring deep within my soul. And it landed smack dab back into the narrow life view I’d started. I had no idea how to cope. So, I ran. Ran for space. I needed space. I needed quiet. To process. To let the pieces fall. To see them all. To build something from them.
And I think back fondly to that unease. That time in my life when I had nowhere to run but inwards. It was soul searching in the truest sense of the word. It was also incredibly lonely as anyone who'd had a life changing experience alone can relate.
In some ways, it’s a time I’ll never recover from. I’ll never be the same. Add more life experience to that and who I was when I left January of 2007 is as foreign to me as a photograph of a stranger. And yet, I remember her. I feel her. I still feel her restlessness call to me when I desire to expand my view of the world, to fearlessly traverse uncovered ground, to bravely face myself head on and see who will come out the other side.
She created this Forever Foreign Femme more than any other travel or living abroad ever could. She gave the deepest, truest most authentic part of my self permission, allowance. You do you girl, she says. Well, it took this gal ten years to really understand that. To really do ME. To really shed any protective skin. I'm still learning to. And thank God for her. Yes I found my own version of spirituality after the act. A much more personal version.
If I could offer any young person, this is for you little sister, a piece of advice. It would be not to take anything as it seems, at surface. Ask, seek, be curious, for God's sake find out for yourself. Listening to others might be easier, it might pave the way, it might be less painful, those things are all true. And who doesn't want to save someone they love from hurt. I don't. Little sister, I beg you... Question. Question. Question. Explore. Experience. Enrich your life in whatever way it is you dream. Just let it be yours.
These seasons of life are the depth and substance of who we are. The moments that make no sense but all come together into a mural, mosaic of who were were, are and will be. That time of my life ten years ago set into motion some serious heartbreak, some startling truths that I cannot unknow. But, they also allowed so much more into my life, including space to be able to let someone else in, to take more adventures, to desire more, to seek, to explore and face fear with a fierceness I couldn’t do without her.
So, while I could be tempted to say I haven’t figured out much more than I knew then…. I haven’t accomplished what I sought to do, I haven’t created the life I intended to…. I can honestly look with her expansive eyes and say…. True… You’ve done so much more. And there’s so much more to come.
LINNY | FOUNDER