13 Countries and Another Plane Ride “Home”

Dec 22, 2022

This plane ride across the ocean feels so different. But I guess, didn’t the last few? Last time I went home, my worry was that I would not feel out of place enough. That it would not feel different enough to prove to myself that I had grown enough. Changed enough.

When I looked out of the window on my first flight to start my ‘new journey’ in January 2022, I had no idea that it would become my ‘new life’. That it wasn’t a temporary change. When I looked out that window, my hope was that I would have an adventure. I was in search of that thing that was missing. I was in search of the stories people write songs about so that I could write them too. I wanted to find people who would love me for this new me. Little did I know, I would find people who love me for every part of me.

To think that I thought 6 months would show me enough of myself to come back revived and less burnt, is now laughable. But 4 months in, I already knew. When I got my Villanova waitlisted notification and knew I didn’t want to go to UConn Law, my mind was already made up. It hurt that I didn’t get accepted, but not in the way that you would think. My confidence was bruised. I was pissed that I would not be able to prove that the last three and a half years didn’t give me enough to build my successful American future. It wasn’t that I was upset that I wouldn’t be able to go to law school, but rather that my path was thrown off. So why not throw it off even more and dive into the best feeling ‘unplanned’ decision to date? To be okay with having no vision for the next day and no freaking clue what I would be doing the next year? I don’t want to be burnt out by the time I am 35 and have never learned what it is like to breath. I can have the world that I idealize. I don’t have to follow the rules I imagined for myself.

Sitting on this fourth plane ride and mentally preparing for returning to my ‘old life’ for a second time, I have such different hopes than the previous two. The anxiety pumping through my veins is now because I am scared to undo. I do not feel the same inside as I did one year ago. Not all of it is pinpointable (should be a word, right).

I feel so completely different in my own skin in one year. I walk with more confidence and don’t skip a beat in conversations with strangers. Hey, if you can flirt with non-fluent English speaking Czech girls, you can talk to anyone. I feel stronger that I ever have (I can rep 110 kg sumo deadlifts, like damn). I began fueling my body as I want my two-year old’s body to be fueled. I started looking at myself as I hope she someday looks at her body and admires how far she has come. I studied how to conjugate 6th case Czech verbs, though I could not tell you them now. I learned how to read body language and word phrasing to interact when I cannot understand words. I skied in the Swiss alps, went diving in Thailand, ate dinner at sunset while looking out at the Athens Greek Acropolis. I treated myself to a memorable solo weekend in London with a visit to Six the Musical (SO amazing if you haven’t heard of it). I sang at a hostel in Vienna, hiked a volcano in Sicily, crashed a birthday party concert while at my second family’s Czech cottage. I drank a lot of beer, had a lot of late night wine and art nights. I released an EP and wrote so many songs that reminded me how central music is in my life. In summary: I have had quite the year.

My growing pains have been heart wrenching. I have connected deeper with myself and others than ever before. I had hard and mindset shifting conversations with friends that made me reflect on my people pleasing, perfectionist patterns and imposter syndrome. I’ve had a lot of falls, but you need them to know what the flying feels like. I spent more time with myself than I ever have and did more hard things with other people than I have ever had the chance. I know that no matter what my next landing spot is, music must be the steadying force. It is the key to me figuring out what I want the rest of my life to look like.

One of my greatest fears is that this will just be a story of “the few years I lived in Czech Republic”. It is SO much bigger than that right now. It has changed me into a new person and shown me of what I can do with my world.

Now on this journey to the US, 11 ½ months after receiving my Czech work visa, I still surprise myself. Even after 13 countries and 16+ plane rides, I still manage to book a seat smack in the middle of the plane’s wing. Yet, I take this flight with hope. I am stronger in my body and mind than I was even on my flight 6 months ago. I am hopeful that the work I have done is just enough to help me to not undo, but stay sturdy in the body and mind I live in now, no matter where it is.

Some songs for the year:

Quarter Life Crisis: Taylor Bickett

Orange Show Speedway: Lizzie McAlpine

The Neighborhood: Grace Enger

Becoming Memories: Kristi Lei

Growing Sideways: Noah Kahan

Orange Juice: Noah Kahan

Breathe: In the Heights (the Movie Musical version)

You’re On Your Own Kid: Taylor Swift