It’s so funny how the mere sight of a boarding pass can change so much. Holding that golden ticket, covered with the dates and times and airport codes which will change your life, it feels like you’re about to take a leap off a tall building with a parachute which may or may not open on the way down. It’s hard not to feel that giddy drop in your stomach when you realize, “This is it, I’m finally leaving.” Even the airport itself, as sterile and fluorescent-lit and fast food-scented as it is, becomes a sort of temple of new beginnings. The endless lines and exhaustive security are rituals which must be performed in order to deserve the divine privilege of changing locations. There is a very special feeling, a slight dizziness, in walking through an airport in early morning, tickets in hand.
With your boarding pass, you have become one of those brave enough to take the plunge. You have scrimped and saved and missed out on nights at the bar long enough to make this purchase — and all the expenses which will come after it — a feasible investment. You are no longer the one who sits at the same coffee shop, day after day, talking about how you’re going to leave some day. You are the person who has taken that crucial step, made the arrangements, and is actually getting out. Your ticket is a sort of security blanket, an upcoming date in the semi-near future which reminds you that things can, and will, change for the better.
But getting to the point in which you have your ticket and are ready to go is as difficult as it is rewarding. How many nights do you sit on the discount travel website and allow your mouse to hover over the best price for your destination? How many nights do you tell yourself that now is not the time, that you can’t go, that there is too much at risk, that you cannot justify it financially? How many times do you look again a few days later to find that the prices have shot up, and that you should have bought it the other night if you actually wanted to go? The dance in which we torture ourselves with the prospect of leaving is one we can be locked in for years if we allow it.
Though when you know where you want to go (and, more importantly, why), there is no better way to spend your money. Suddenly every possible alternative purchase — a concert, new clothes, a night out — becomes a waste of money which only serves to chip away at the most important goal. Looking at photos of your chosen destination and reading stories of those who’ve already made the voyage become the only way to quiet your scratching, reaching need to get out. It is putting a band-aid on the gaping wound within you, the emptiness which seems to echo endlessly every time you confirm aloud that you are still, in fact, not going yet.
At some point, it would seem that the desire would become so great as to override any sense of financial propriety or logistical impossibility. The fetishizing of suitcases and yellowed boarding passes from all around the world would become so ridiculous in the face of your own inability to leave that you would just close your eyes and hit “purchase.” You would say a small prayer for your decimated bank account and you would finally leave again. In fact, after you’ve already completed the task once, the desire becomes all the harder to ignore the second time. “You’re only a ticket away,” you tell yourself, “you know that you can do this.” But when you are tied up by every limb to the spider web of your current life, your current settings — how do you take that plunge again? And is there ever a moment where you have flown enough that you no longer need to spread your wings again?