Before I left Canada I lay my head in my suitcase and sobbed. We had just returned from my goodbye dinner. My friend tried to console me and I asked her to let me cry. She looked at my packed bags and said "Gilly this is you, this is the you I know, this is good."
The next day she drove me to the airport, we shared a plate of fries and gravy and a slice of cheesecake, and I flew to Europe.
It's been almost a year. Honestly, I was terrified to come back. I lived another life in this city and the thickest sheet of snow can't hide all of the memories.
But I'm back. With a divorce, three new tattoos, and a lot of life experience. I've had the darkest lows and the most amazing highs. I've faced fears by the dozen.
I've ridden over a bridge on the shoulders of an Estonian unicycler while day turned to night, and on the back of a moped in Paris with the summer rain soaking my bare legs. I've felt the love of strangers and the moment they become old friends. I've worn out my legs dancing in dirty underground clubs in Berlin and barefoot in the countryside.
I've uncovered parts of myself I didn't know existed and ones I worried I had lost. Every experience was exactly what I needed at the time. I feel whole again. I'm no longer looking for something or someone to fix me or make me better. I love myself. Everything else is extra fuel for my beating heart.
Yesterday I picked up the keys to my friend's apartment and walked down the street with my backpack and duffel bag, icy wind in my hair, and I thought "This is freedom". At night I feasted with old and new friends, walked through a snowy cemetery under the moonlight, and braved the cold walking home.
I feel good. I have no solid plan, no money, and nothing to lose. I think it's a great place to start.