I used to be an adventurous child. The very first time I got grounded, I got grounded for wandering off to explore. I was five, back in the days when kids used to spend their afternoons playing outside. There was a playground where I was allowed to go to, another playground, a little further away, where I wasn’t, and there was the rest of the town which was completely off limits – so off limits that it went without mention. The Forbidden Playground was incredibly tempting, the slide there was high and shiny and so obviously so much better than the familiar slide on our playground. One day, my friends convinced me and we went to explore. I can’t really remember the playground nor that scary, adventurous slide – I do remember, however, that I wanted to keep going, that I wanted to see other places I had never been to before. Every corner was fascinating, every good old block of flats more intriguing than any historic sight I had seen up till then. I still remember that tingling excitement of exploring, the very guilty pleasure of being in places I shouldn’t have been at. I went quite far away for a five-year-old. I talked to some people. I got back to find my parents going crazy with worry. A number of enjoyable activities were suspended for weeks to come.
I then grew up a little, societal pressure took hold of me. I started going to summer camps. I would always go as far away as I could – and I would always go alone. Everyone around thought it was courageous: “look at her, so small and not afraid to go by herself, whole two weeks without the parents, only strangers around, what a brave, brave child”. There was no bravery involved, it was nothing but cowardice. I was running away. In a new place, with people who didn’t know me and whom I’d very likely never see again, I was an unwritten book, a blank page, a cool kid I wanted to be. And then, when I inevitably failed at the endeavour of being someone else, I could just shake it off: “Oh well. I’ll never see them again. Maybe it’s them, not me. And even if it’s me, oh well, why would I care what some people living on the other side of the country would think of me” (of course I did care what they thought, it was just easier to forget it when they were nowhere to be seen).
Somewhere between the bubbly five-year-old me and the pubescent-me, I developed quite a remarkable case of anxiety. I have managed to make it highly functional, and I have managed to deal with it – more or less. In almost all areas. There are opportunities which must have passed me because of it, and there must be wonderful friends I hadn’t made. That is fine though: the opportunities which I have taken advantage of are plentiful, and so are friends I made on the way. I cannot miss what I don’t know. Now, however, now, I am losing a relationship that I do know of and that I care for an awful, awful lot. An outbreak of anxiety which I couldn’t control and which I couldn’t stop strained it greatly at its very dawn. Things are crumbling down right in front of my eyes, they are slipping through my fingers, and the more I try to stop it, the less of it is left. The teenage monsters are flooding me again and, despite my greatest efforts, I cannot stop them. Yet again it seems that the more I care, the less careable-for I become – and I know that the simplest solution would be to care less. And yet, I can’t.
There is a scene in “Gravity” where Sandra Bullock in her cosmic suit looks down at the Earth, and the Earth reflects in her helmet, and her sad, sad, face peeks through that reflection, and the Earth and the face fill the entire screen. Sandra Bullock’s character is trapped – she’s trapped in space, she’s trapped in the suit and she’s trapped in her head. Whatever was chasing her on Earth, did not stop chasing her in space. No distance is far enough to run away from oneself.
I can’t go to space. I have reached the Pacific. If I keep going West, I will start coming back. I don’t want to come back. I don’t want to be running away anymore either – and I will not. It’s time to turn back and face whatever has been chasing me. Because I’m fine. Because it’s not always my fault. Because I’m strong enough to do that.
When I travel, I spend a lot of time in my head, which sometimes thinks itself out of control. I need to let the steam out somewhere – hence this new, semi-hidden section of the blog. Hidden, because I want to think of myself as a privacy-protecting individual. Semi, because there is an extent to which I’m a vain, attention-seeking exhibitionist. The Polish and English entries in that section will be different – pop up to both every now and then. If you liked this post, you might also like the travel-focused main part of the blog