In fifteen hours I will be in India. In five days I'll be at Indicorps orientation. In one month I'll lay my backpack down at my new home in Chandigarh, India for an entire year.
All of this and how am I feeling? Largely normal with a dash of nerves and a handful of achy sadness after leaving my family in Tampa. Not bad with my history of freak-out-stomach and spiraling thoughts.
I know it will catch up -- probably the first night that I sleep alone, surrounded by strangers, in a city that I can only picture on Google maps. For now I'll take the calm.
Mental gymnastics is what my grandpa calls my wanderlust. Studying in Italy, yoga training in New York, assignments in Brazil, internships in Pennsylvania and DC. And now 355 days in India.
But my mind has never felt clearer. First, because India is not a new, romantic land of opportunity, a city to push my resume, or a class to workshop my writing. My friend Nithya and I stayed up last week talking about our connection to India -- a weird, deep, ancestral fulfillment. A comfort in a sea of faces like mine. Tasting and smelling and touching without personal space or metaphorical gloves.
And second, because of my task at hand. That daunting title of "slum development" seems removed, impenetrable and hopeless from an air-conditioned room in Florida. But last summer dealt me just a sliver of the love and hope that moves and evolves in the harshest of homes, and I can't give up on that feeling.
Months of answering questions about India, thinking about India, talking about India, getting yelled at by my sister for going to India -- the day has come. And I am unsure, and I am a little scared, and I am excited, but my expectations have bowed humbly to the knowledge that this year has no blueprint.
Hopefully you will join me in my adventures, and hopefully I will tell them with as much truth and heart as I can. And at last, hopefully they will prove my decision fruitful.