I had just returned from Peru after a year of travel and found myself in a tiny liberal arts college in the middle of Indiana. It was culture shock in the strangest of ways. I felt out of place in my own country (albeit an unfamiliar part of the country...) and desperately missed the freedom and adventure of travel, not to mention my love. Alexis and I were navigating a long distance relationship-- a first for both of us-- and I was dealing with some big, heavy decisions (whether to stay in school or return to Peru.) This sketchbook was my outlet for all kinds of wild emotions and my closest companion during a lonely time.
Looking back through it was such a wild ride down memory lane. I felt transported, back to that place and the person I was during that time. Words poured out of me-- a love letter, of sorts, to my younger self:
Hi sweet one,
I remember you so well. Curled up in your tiny dorm bed, finding yourself like a bird back in a cage, your heart breaking, your mind reeling with huge decisions and experiences you couldn't begin to share.
I want to wrap my arms around you-- as strong and unflinching as you projected yourself to be, you were aching inside. You bounced between intellectual theories of race and privilege and the raw experiences seeing true poverty in Peru. You spent hours locked in the library, devouring books on Latin America-- finding comfort in the familiarity, the words soothing the homesickness and heartsickness you felt. Art poured of you-- keeping your hands busy and your mind free to wander back to your travels-- the open road.
You were so brave to follow your heart. School left behind-- a one way ticket to Peru-- releasing the guilt you felt at disappointing your parents to run off, halfway across the world, to be with a boy. But you made it. Through the doubt and the guilt and the fear. You lived incredible lives-- ones that books are written about, ones that seem to happen only in dreams. You fought for love-- against distance and bureaucracy and a painstaking visa process. And you won. You got married, had a baby, and eventually earned a degree. It all worked out just fine, because you were brave enough to leap....
I carry you with me still. Life is funny that way-- our younger selves are always with us, hidden beneath layers of wisdom and experience and growth. But I wonder now, if I'd still have your bravery-- if I'd still be able to risk all for love. I like to believe so. I'd like to believe that you gave that gift to me, your older self. The gift of trusting your heart and the universe, of leaving carefully laid plans by the wayside in order to follow your true path.
Thank you, beautiful soul, for your bravery and strength-- for growing into the woman I am now.