Congratulations, we made it to 2021.
To celebrate, I thought I’d share this piece I wrote back in March when I was so goddamned sure that last year would kill me.
A huge part of my identity is wrapped up in traveling; it’s both who I am and what I do, and I’m literally a travel writer, so it’s also how I eat. It’s the one thing I’ve ever really wanted, and now, though I’ve spent years traipsing about the fucking world proud of myself for creating nothing of importance, now, as coronavirus sweeps through the world getting closer to my little perch in South Africa, now I’ve finally fucking realized for the very first time that it might be the thing that kills me.
Maybe it won’t be this year, but also: maybe it will.
Today is Tuesday, March 17th. My visa expires in eleven days, and at some point I will have to board a plane. I’ll have to sit in a dirty seat in coach and with a shaky hand, rub an alcohol wipe over my tray table like a prayer to a god I don’t believe in. And then I’ll land in Dubai or Istanbul or Kigali or Bangkok or any city that will take me, because the only thing that I’m sure of right now is that I’m even more likely to die if I go back to the States.
I’m in New Doornfontein, Johannesburg, and out the window is the neon-topped Ponte that I had dreamed of seeing in real life ever since I was a little kid though I was always so scared I would never make it here.
But I did, make it here. And I’ve made it to the Sydney Opera House and Ipanema Beach and the Bund, and just like the orphans in the musical I loved as a child, I made it to Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, too.
But if I have done nothing else I’ve lived a huge, unbelievable life, and I’ve searched my brain trying to find a thing that I would change: if I could remove one airplane, one country, one lover, one friend. And I’m drawing a blank. I just can’t imagine having done it another way.
So if you’re reading this months after I’ve expired in Tbilisi or Kuala Lumpur, please don’t be sad for me. It was by chance, yes, but it was a product of exactly how I purposely, though often rashly, designed my life.
I love y’all. I really, really do.