Back Out Into The World

It has been such a long time since I have left a note here. The summer has rushed by; it has sped at a rate I could hardly imagine. For me it was filled with work, more work than I ever should have agreed to do, and on many instances ever thought I would manage, but here I am. The summer is drawing to a close; I must say I am not sorry. I love the autumn, I love cool breezes at night that force me to close my windows, I love the feeling of change in the air and the relief it seems to bring me.

And in my life the end of summer is also bringing the end of work, I have finished three big jobs that overlapped, intermingled, and kept my time full the past four months. My work brought me to Atlanta for two weeks where I was able to spend some additional time with dear friends. It brought me out west for a quick time, where once again I practiced holding life in two hands, working all day and spending evenings with family and friends. And finally my work brought me to Philadelphia. I am exhausted just remembering everything I have done in recent weeks.

But for now life is slowing down and I am starting to look outward again. Life is becoming that which I want it to be and not which I find it must be. It has been hard for me returning from the RAvolution, I have wanted to be back out there in the world – returning to Cambodia, or going to see schools being built in Burma, pausing over tea with Astrid who is expecting her second child any day in Germany. But there is the reality of life, the reality that I have to work to make money for such adventures. But the time has come and all of the months of work in a few days will turn into the reward, the other side of the coin for me that which I have been working for – another trip!!

The seed was planted so many months ago; in the cold heart of winter when I was freshly back in my life in New York, and finding a routine so hard. A job I had planned on was postponed to the summer, yes it was one of the many, and I found myself back in New York with no work. I was sad (ok depressed), I was disappointed to find my life not how I imagined or desired it in the least. I found myself back in a place when all I wanted was to see the wider world. In those moments I found a website for a Yoga retreat that was happening what felt like half a lifetime and world away, in the fall in Marrakech. You might remember I called it my fantasy trip of the moment. And that was how it felt, a mere dream or fantasy.

But that seed and that dream grew within me during those dark, cold months. One day on a walk home from yoga class I called my dad and said I really want to do this but I was so scared – with no current work could I afford to commit to a trip like this in the future. Under my umbrella with the dark gray clouds and a light rain above me, my father said something that was so unlike him. My father is where I get all of my responsible nature; it was my father who held down two jobs my entire life to put me through school and taught me to work hard. On this particular day as I expressed my longing for this far off goal, my father very squarely and completely out of character for him said something simple to me, “Ra, whose advice are you asking for—mine or your moms?” It seemed silly at that moment but as I replied my umbrella fell and I could feel the answer come to me as the light ran fell on my head. “I guess my mom’s.” And my dad asked, “Well what would she say?” I didn’t have to wait to answer, “She would say go for it.” And there was my answer. I ran home and with no idea what lay between that February day and the next seven months, I signed up for a trip to Morocco on the spot!

And so here I am all those weeks and months later, getting ready to depart on the trip. It just so happened a few weeks after this exchange that one of my oldest and dearest friends sent me a note that she would be in Europe a few weeks before I had to be in Morocco and would I like to join her and her friends. I couldn’t join for the entire trip (darn that work above) but I could meet them on their last stop and what would become my first – Barcelona. I will spend 3 days with them and then a week traveling the Costa Brava and jumping into South Western France for a few nights before heading to the land of spices, souks, and exotic dream scapes.

Saying yes to my friend felt real and right, it would somehow put me back in Spain on the three year anniversary of my mother’s death. Indeed it was another part of Spain from where I got that late night call but it will be the same country. It feels oddly like coming full circle. I have not been back to Spain since then. Until now I haven’t even been able to draw myself to look at the photos I took that one day I had in Madrid before I heard of my mother’s passing. It feels odd three years later. Somehow this landmark always loomed for me, so many books and articles on grief talk of the first three years but not of the lifetime that lies beyond them. Somehow it felt as though I need only survive these three years and the pain would wash away and only now days before this trip and this marker and I realize no amount of time, no distance in space, and no change in life will ever eliminate the loss.

I am so excited to be going on this trip. I am so excited to be once again seeing the world through new eyes of a first time visitor. I am so happy to taste the exotic flavors and smell the spices (hello life list!). I am excited to hear the adhan (call to prayer) ring through the early morning air.I am even excited to be reconnected with some squat toilets, amazing how one can change!

I bring you all with me on this magic carpet ride into this exciting world. I will of course be leaving messages of my adventures and when I return will be filling this space with the images I see. I know I will have stories. And as I have been preparing I have returned to one of my favorite books THE LITTLE PRINCE. I look forward to seeing what Antoine de Saint-Exupery called “…the loveliest and saddest landscape in the world…” I plan to “…wait for a time exactly under [a] star…” and as I look at each of the stars imagining the worlds they hold, the friends, and limitless potential I will think of all of you.


Pictures 1, 2, & 4 – Madrid Spain September 2009

Picture 3 – My Mom

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09 2012

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  1. MARIBEL A. #

    I’m reading this and in tears! Just seeing the picture of your mother warms my heart. I can feel her famous great big tight hugs. It was an honor and a pleasure to have met your mother Ramona. Thank you for coming to Barcelona and letting us be there for you to complete your full circle 3 years later.

    • ra #

      Maribel, thank you so much for this kind note. You are so special in my life and I am so glad we were able to have the time we have together. I can’t wait for more trips, adventures, and meals together.

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