"I look back on that time now and wonder at the insanity of the choices that I had in that moment, I was so naive about the world."
In less than a week, I will be boarding a plane to Europe. For the first time in more than 20 years, I will be travelling alone. I've only been to Europe once, and only got as far as Athens and Turkey, and I'm not even sure Turkey counts as being a part of Europe does it? And I was only in Athens for 24 hours.
At 23, I spent a year saving, working and was prepared to backpack around the world for as many as five years. After a teary farewell to my family, I had my itinerary set, I would stop in Thailand and do a trek with Intrepid, then go to Israel and work on a Kibbutz and then I had a job lined up at a summer camp in Scotland. It was the perfect plan...alas, the best laid plans!
Thailand was an invaluable first stop for a naive traveller, of course I believed everyone who said they had a cousin in Sydney and it didn't take me long to realise that they were all full of it. Israel was an eye-opening experience. I stayed in a community where you could see the Lebanese border and the armed guards patrolling it. I woke up every morning and vomitted, fearful of the gunfire and ammunitions practice in the valley below - it literally made me sick. So, instead of seeing out my agreement at the Kibbutz, I left with some new friends I made who were travelling to Egypt. It was not on my itinerary, but I had enough time.
Soon, we arrived in Cairo and spent a few days wandering around. But because I had such a tight schedule to get across Europe to Scotland - and limited funds - I started exploring the city on my own. It was after a blissful day spent at the museum that I met my ex-husband. The chemistry was electric and I was sucked into this whirlwind of lust and love and romance where I agreed to marry him after three weeks.
I look back on that time now and wonder at the insanity of the choices that I had in that moment, I was so naive about the world. I went for a trip with my friends out into the desert and then returned to Cairo where I parted ways with my new friends. They went off to Jordan and I stayed in Egypt for a few more months until I was scheduled to start my job. But when it came to leaving for Scotland, I boarded the plane and spent the entire 24 hours of my time crying. I remember sitting on the plane and thinking how Scotland will always be there, but this relationship might not, I needed to see where it went.
So I turned around and went back to Egypt. That was my 'Sliding Doors' moment. I will never ever know how my life might have turned out. I know I wouldn't have had my three beautiful children if I had gone on to Scotland, but I spend a lot of time wondering what could have been. That was 20 years ago now, and in 12 months I'm going to Scotland with Wyld Tribe and will be surrounded by a supportive sistahood of women while I finish that circle that started in my early 20s. I can already feel the completion on the horizon about this.
Twenty years ago, I had planned on going for 5 years, but I returned with a husband and pregnant after only 10 months. That was three children and an abusive relationship ago. This week, I will boarding a plane to Europe with only the first few days organised after all, I don't really know what might happen and that's the magic of travel that shows us what life is really all about - the choices that we make that can lead us one way or the other, it's about going with the flow. So every day, I will remind myself to follow the signs from the Universe to see where it leads and that will be perfect.
Wish me luck,
Watch the updates of my trip via my Facebook here. I'll blog again when I get back. :)
©Alyssa Curtayne 2019