On Long Flights and Leaving

I’m writing this while sitting on a layover in Toronto Pearson International Airport on my way to Beijing. Our terminal is really nice in that the gate’s entire waiting area is made up of fancy tables with an ipad and charging station at every seat, but the lack of fully functional wifi is definitely a downer.

I’ll be in Beijing for about ten days, teaching a psychology seminar to Chinese high school students for a conference called HSYLC (Harvard Summit for Young Leaders in China). After that, my friend Steve and I will be heading back through Tokyo and staying for about four days to explore as much of the city as we possibly can in that time. To say I’m excited is an understatement—this will be my first experience with Asia, a continent that’s always fascinated me with its sheer vastness and intriguing diversity. I never thought I’d get to visit the Far East so soon, but obviously I’m thrilled and incredibly lucky to be proved wrong.

That isn’t to say I’m looking forward to this ridiculous flight, though—I had a quick hop over to Toronto from JFK, but now I’ve got a thirteen-and-a-half hour monster to Beijing looming up in front of me. In the process of dreading this flight, though, I came to a conclusion about my attitude in regards to travel:

I hate leaving.

This applies to everywhere. I hate leaving home and I hate leaving the incredible places I visit. I hate goodbyes, even if they’re just see-you-laters. It’s just the process of leaving anywhere that daunts me—conversely, though, I love arriving. I love the thrill of arriving in a new, entirely different city. I love stepping off of an airplane onto the jetway, not knowing at all what to expect. And I love arriving back home at the end of an adventure, chock full of stories to tell and experiences to recount. I adore traveling and wandering, but I certainly prefer the arriving portion—I’d be lying if I said leaving places, whatever places those might be, doesn’t make upset.

Does that make sense?

So right now I’m looking forward to arriving in Beijing. That arrival will be over fourteen hours from now, at 4AM in the time zone my body is used to, following a ridiculously long and probably sleepless flight. But it’s an arrival, and I love those, so truly I couldn’t be more excited.

See you soon, China!

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