It all depends on how you define “brave.”

When I told people my travel plans for the next year and they said, “You should write a blog!,” I thought I’d start it with the beginning of my adventurous, brave travels. Certainly not with this trip to a timeshare on Kauai.

DFE1F7FE-1E7E-4CFF-A662-49DBF240F7FCBecause where’s the courage in staying in a luxurious, 900 sq ft unit in a resort full of affluent Westerners, with an English-speaking staff ready to help you with anything you need? On a beautiful tropical island that is part of the United States? Sure, you can have adventures, and the more money you spend, the bigger the adventures! (Think luaus, helicopter rides, guided kayak tours.)

But what you see on the surface is never the full story.

I was supposed to be here with my husband of 28 years. Two months ago, he told me he didn’t actually love me, and he didn’t want to be married anymore. And two days later he moved in with his girlfriend.

And I came to Kauai anyway, to the timeshare we own (being transferred into his name only as we speak, as per the separation agreement). I came here to a place we loved so much that we bought into it, where only a year and a half ago we had one of the best times of our marriage, or so I thought. And I spent my days in the echos of places we’d been together, acutely aware of the couples our age or older, holding hands, enjoying the life they had worked for decades to achieve.

And it occurred to me that I was brave. I was choosing to dive off the deep end, into a churning pool of emotion and introspection. To wrestle with the pain of betrayal and broken dreams, of shattered complacency, of a future destroyed and a past suddenly not what I had believed it to be.

And I was choosing— no, no choice there, no status quo to cling to— to open those deeper vaults. Who am I? What do I want? What is important to me? Because for so many years I had defined myself by my roles: good mother, good wife, good teacher, good daughter. And I had begun to realize that all my self-definition, my self worth, came in what I did for others.

And I am acutely aware of my privilege. Heartbreak is almost universal; you only need to listen to almost any popular music on the radio. I am going through it with a good education and income, the support of family and friends, good health and one of the best passports on the world. (Actually, two. Even more privilege.) Yet my pain is very real to me.

And I choose not to numb it with routine and crutches. In my lovely suite in a tropical paradise, without distractions, I dove down to see if I could reach the bottom of the pool. I chose to go to places I’d been with my husband. I overshared with strangers. Like a tongue in a toothache, I explored why it hurt so much.

And I thought of what my life might look like, without compromise.

So welcome. Welcome to my brave travels.

 

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