I used to think about what it would be like to go to Panama. I always imagined myself taking a cruise ship through the Panama Canal. Having that one day stop over where I would see the country where I was born, making a half hearted attempt to find someone that was related to me. I imagined that by the time I ever got the money or the courage to visit that my father may well have passed on and I would really have no leads or connections. It was always a bittersweet image in my head.
Yet here I am six days from Panama. I can scarcely believe it. For a long time I've been ignoring this trip. In my mind Chicago came first and I told myself I would worry about Panama later. Then school came and it has hit me like a ton of bricks. I have been barely treading water for months. I made small little steps like getting a passport and picking up a travel book here and there. I made a stab at learning Spanish, but I'm sorry to say that failed miserably due in part to the aforementioned bricks.
Six days. Suddenly after my big competition last weekend Panama has jumped to the forefront of my thoughts. Suddenly I realized that I had nothing to wear, no good shoes, no idea what I was supposed to pack or what I was supposed to be getting ready. And the countdown clock ticks ever lower.
I think part of me doesn't really believe I'm going. It doesn't seem real. Today at lunch I was looking up Panamanian food and found a good website that had not only a food write up, but several different articles on things to see and what to expect. And for a brief fleeting moment I got excited. I was going! I was going to be there! And then that feeling rushed away and it was back to not feeling real. The only emotion I know for sure is the sick feeling in my stomach that I get when I think of leaving my cat. A co-worker is looking after her, but I'm still very upset about it. I keep that upset mostly bottled up. I'm sure that this is just my own personal brand of crazy that I usually keep contained. I remind myself that I have left her before and it will be ok. But still that swooping feeling. That feeling also appears when I think of the airplane flight. It is only 4 hours, but in my brain staying up in a plane for four hours seems impossible.
Tick, tick, tick goes the countdown clock. I keep asking myself, when will it feel real? When will it really feel like I'm going? When I'm going to be happy about it instead of anxious and nervous. I'm guessing in six days.