The Doorway

I fell in love with travel because discovering places is magical, playful, the most natural thing in the world for perennial children like me. But as with so many things in my life, seeing it as part of my identity—in this case, by making a career out of travel writing—had somewhat extinguished its magic. Because also as with many things in my life, I had become obsessed with perfection. As a Travel Authority, I had to know it all before even experiencing it. And yet, spatially challenged as I am, I couldn’t get a lay of the land without seeing it in the round. I’d created a catch-22.
While I’m sure some of my anxiety, then, upon beginning my grand tour of Europe was chemicals in the plane food, I know some of it—absurdly—was dread. In throwing it together last minute, I hadn’t had a chance to Google-map or research the cool places in my first stop of Dublin. As a last resort I’d tried to do it before my flight, but there isn’t even wi-fi in the Newark Airport Starbucks. And there hadn’t been any on the five-hour flight. Making it to the hostel despite this was reassuring: Maybe I really could find my own way. But still I was consumed with self-doubt. And still I resolved to map at the hostel.
Except the lobby’s wi-fi wasn’t working.
Nothing had ever terrified me as much as the unknown increasingly looking to swallow me whole, and yet the conspiring fates had kept me powerless against it. I had a limited time in Dublin and, despite my best efforts, not a shadow of a crutch to support me in using it properly.
In my two months of solo travel to follow, I would map things out frequently, often to my benefit. But I would do so with the knowledge that if the maps stopped loading, the value of my trip wouldn’t disappear. Because on that first day, If I failed to do Dublin right, I could also say I had tried everything, and it wasn’t my fault. In that cosmic conspiracy was a golden permission slip: Standing on that doorway, I had no choice but to discover Dublin, and to rediscover discovery.
And then I stepped out the door.