Where am I? What am I leaving behind?

I am confused, divided, nervous. Anxious. I feel weirdly fragile. I am afraid that I am not prepared to go on this trip. I want so much to experience a completely new culture, but what if I am not ready?

But... I've survived thus far on my own, haven't I? I have spent a whole year away from my family, submerged in American culture, haven't I? I matured and grew and learned the ability to live and exist out of my comfort zone. I became a different person, a different me. Now I just have to use those abilities and tools in India. I know it won't be handed to me on a plate, I have to go and look for it. I have to prepare myself for what is coming, I have to keep an open mind and heart and soul.

I can do this.

I have come this far but I still have so much to go. I know that. It is such a terribly long and awfully exciting journey. And even if I don't feel ready right now, I know I will be, one step at a time.

I am leaving so much behind. I am leaving the single story of an unexperienced mind. As soon as I step off the plane and bury my feet in Indian soil my senses will be wide awake. Everything I see, hear, touch, smell, will be forever ingrained in my memory, will be scratched onto my skin. So, in a way, I am leaving my younger self behind, the Isabel that does not feel ready, and I am stepping into the shoes of someone else, a stranger. My feet might feel uncomfortable in these new shoes, but after much walking I will be accustomed.

I am also leaving James behind. Saying bye to my little brother after a whole year of not seeing him is possibly one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Because James is my strength, my motivation, my warmth, and the farther I am from him the harder it is for me to be strong. I try to channel his good energy, his happines, his toothy smile with me wherever I go, but the longer we are apart the harder it seems. So, in a way, this trip is for him too. I'll go back and tell him of my stories and experiences, of what I've learned, and we can bond over the time we have spent apart.

There is an e.e. cummings poem that goes, "I carry your heart with me...I carry your heart in me." Right now I carry Madrid in me. I never want to lose perspective of who I am. I want to experience this trip for my home, my family, and especially for James, who will be with me wherever I go.