In July 2014, on a rainy night in the New Delhi Airport, I fell in love for the first time. Her name was India, and
she was beautiful.
Flying into the country where we first met felt like dancing (I love dancing)—the way the plane smacked the lips of the sky. I learned things about myself. I didn't like taking trains after dark, had a bad habit of eating foods too spicy for me, (especially if on banana leaves) and that, because I loved, I was not afraid of anything.
I kissed cobras, stopped street fights, showered with elephants, chased thieves down streets I didn't know in languages I wasn’t born speaking.
After my first love, I had another, another, and another. Friends began to ask me who it was, what had happened.
“I fell in love,” I told them.
“What makes you think that?” they asked.
“I can't stop thinking about traveling.”
India. Morocco. South Africa. I began to keep a list. The list got longer; it had twelve names.
It wasn't until I met her, my great love, that everything changed. It didn't matter to me that she'd been loved before—by sailors, by surfers, or that a whole group of people devoted themselves to studying her body. I was thankful to have slept sixty-seven nights in her arms, loved her many faces.
The ocean was my home.
I didn’t care what my parents thought, or my boyfriend, or my professors, I was in love.
And when it came time to come home, I stood at the arrivals in JFK Airport, holding a bouquet of flowers from someone else, and reciting the only words I remembered my lovers ever teaching me, “Khoobsuraat,” “Ubuntu,” “Semanhiya.”
I realized something when I got on the next plane. I turned around, and was able to say, “If I don’t come back, tell my lover I’m fine.”
Falling in love is the feeling that makes you want to be with someone because something in them (their features, the way they make you think, what they have done for you, or all the above) catches your attention. It may last forever or not at all. It is no guarantee that you will be in love for your whole life— it's just the trigger for approaching—for getting on the plane, for selling all your possessions to move to a new country, to saying goodbye to your family.
My mother calls me “The Goodbye Girl.” But I found love at an early age, nineteen. And as always, it changes you. When I fell for travel, I fell hard.
My father doesn't approve. My mother doesn't like it, and my brother thinks I could do better. But, we're happy together.
My whole life—finishing a degree in Creative Writing with an emphasis in poetry, working as an NGO Storyteller publishing articles that promote understanding, and starting an emergency savings fund for women in Morocco at twenty-three-years-old—since love became a testimony of loving deeply.
I am learning what it means to love the world and to love people, and what I learn, I will teach you.