Departure: May 19th (also the 477th anniversary of the execution of Anne Boleyn, for those that wondered)
My plane ticket said that I was a world traveler. Sarah Katherine Geil: World Traveler. The lyrics of the Andrew Peterson Song with the same title began to play through my head. “Oh, I’m a world traveler/pack your bags and dig down deep/ride the storms and sail the seas/to the distant pole/I’m a world traveler/into these uncharted lands/to blaze a trail in the vast expanse/ of the heart and soul./In the grace of the God of peace/Let’s wade into the battle…/there’s a million mysteries I’m ready to unravel/Come on, let’s travel the world.”
At the airport, I hoisted my bag onto the counter, shed my shoes, swiftly unpacked my laptop, pushed, raised my hands, and was thus allowed to be a world traveler. The new International wing (pun intended) of the Atlanta airport was itself a new adventure. I have been blessed to travel so much that I have become rather accustom to Hartsfield Jackson’s customs (punny again!) But this new area was enchanting. I made a supper out of the familiar Atlanta Varsity frosted orange as people of different languages and cultures laughed and talked all around me.
The excitement of the group grew by the minute. Two hours before departure, we quietly talked in small pairs. One and a half hours before departure, we moved around a little bit. One hour before departure, we started talking about what we were excited about as an entire group. Thirty minutes before departure, we stretched. Ten or so college girls sat down on the floor of the airport and did all sorts of stretches. Sitting on the floor made the circle tighter. I knew most of the girls already. Some of them well, some in passing, and some because we were in the same Facebook group saying we were traveling to London together. As we talked at the airport, with the bond of shared expectations, we became a group of friends. And then we boarded. I sat between Jenn and Dr. V, a wonderful spot to be.
Logically, I knew that I should go right to sleep. But of course that was not going to happen. I watched a movie, ate a wonderful airplane meal (I really do love airplane food—it baffles me that they can keep it/make it so hot so high in the sky) and then settled down to sleep. I closed my eyes and thought of all the adventures this world traveler would have.
Of course, those sorts of thoughts are not exactly conducive to sleep. I fell into the fitful sleep of someone squeezed into a seat travelling at hundreds of miles per hour over the ocean. I fared worse than some and better than others. But that’s the way of life, I suppose. God granted my request, and though I didn’t fully recharge, it was enough energy to get me through the exciting day. I woke for breakfast. Jenn and I had a fun time discovering the tastes of the items in our breakfast box, particularly the round granola bar.
The pressure of the landing was intense and my ears did not respond very well. For most of the day, I walked in a sense of muted wonder. In fact, all of my senses were suffering. Hours later, I still sometimes feel like I am moving. Swaying. Flying. My eyes were blurry, my legs stiff, my ears stuffed. Certain sounds got through. It was almost like I sat above, or within, watching myself become a world traveler once again. The next twenty eight days are blurry, like the sounds of the foggy Heathrow airport. Now that I have arrived, things have become much more clear and much more real than they were a few days, weeks, and months ago. But I know that I want to live up to my flight ticket’s benediction. I want to become Sarah Katherine Geil: World Traveler.