The Anticipation of Travel
Last month my husband and I were supposed to travel to Sofia, Bulgaria. We had our bags packed, and our friends awaiting our arrival. And of course, with the anticipation of travel, I started reflecting on the many times I had prepared for a journey much like this one. Whether I’m moving across the world or going away for the weekend, the same internal shock, excitement, anxiety, joy, and fear runs through my body—the way it might for any fellow TCK. Because when all is said and done, traveling, for me, is like flipping a switch. It somehow opens a compartment deep within my soul, causing everything to come rushing out; every memory, every hope, every longing, every disappointment, every loss. Yes, loss is something every Third Culture Kid must learn to cope with.
My family moved to Bulgaria the summer before I went off to college. They lived there for my first two years at university. My grandfather–for unrelated reasons–also moved there for an interim period a few years later, making it one of my fleeting “homes” on many strange levels. The last time I was in Sofia was two years ago. I was using it as a base during a time of ultimate transition: during the habitual process of quite-possibly my most drastic move thus far. Sofia, unfortunately, often faces the inevitable consequences of middle-child syndrome. With that being said, I have nothing personal against Sofia—it’s just that it always stirs up conflicting emotions. It had always acted as an in-between; a stop-over; a place to recuperate and to pause when the entire world around me was whirling in chaos.
In the past two years, I moved from Moscow, saying goodbye to what had been my home for the previous ten years of my life; I moved to the United States—to an unfamiliar city and state—for the first time since 5th grade, and within a mere 11 months of that move, I got married, and packed up my life to plant roots in Belgrade, Serbia. My time spent in Sofia was the calm before the storm, the last thing I remember before the madness began, and it represents the start to my “adult life” in many ways.
It was in Sofia where I mourned the first loss of Moscow. It was where I found rest between college semesters—from the storm of losing myself in Rome. There I diligently worked my first real job, the summer after graduating high school, and spent my 19th and 20th birthdays.
For a place I often forget; a place kept in the back of my mind; a place I barely spent any time in, it sure does hold quite a high significance, doesn’t it?
Sofia is the reminder every few years of what has happened in my life: where I have come from and how I have evolved. And even when plans fall through (like last month) and I don’t even end up going to my bizarre, beloved Bulgaria, it seems the trip down memory lane is enough. And when I reflect on all the change, and all that this unique town represents, I can only thank God for using it as a stepping stone on my complicated journey.
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