These moments aren't very different, you know.

Eighteen months ago, I was sitting in the 22nd row of an Avianca flight from JFK to Bogota. I've written about that flight extensively, so I won't rehash it here. But long story short, I had just quit my job, ended my engagement to my fiance, packed my life into an 8x12 storage unit in Queens, and hopped on a plane.

Tonight, I'm sitting on a couch in my apartment in Montreal. There's a Christmas tree across from me, warm bulbs twinkling gold through fine needles. A dishwasher is humming in the kitchen. My girlfriend is clanking away on her keyboard next to me. The world is so very different than it was eighteen months ago. Why does it feel so similar?

Tomorrow, the project I've worked on for the last eight months finally, seriously, comes into the world. Eighteen months ago, I tore my whole world down. Tonight, I'm building it all back up.

The feeling is remarkably similar. Transitional life moments, after all, are unique emotional experiences. It's nerves, right? But it's also fear and joy and excitement and deep sadness and longing. It's not any single emotional experience. It's the collection of them melding into something cohesively bizarre and beautiful. I'm shaking and scared and more excited than I've ever been. I'm proud and embarrassed and not quite sure what to make of what I built.

I felt the same way on that airplane when I knew I needed to change everything.

In the article above I linked above, I say to the version of me on that airplane: "Your mind will fog with vignettes of memories - hazy on the edges and bright in the center - and you’ll envy your earlier self. This self - the one on the plane. And then your next self will envy that self, and so on."

And I'm right. I know I am. I can get on any airplane I want to any place in the world. It'll never quite feel like that ever again.

And eighteen months from now, I could launch a new artistic project. It would be exciting and energizing and wonderful. But it would never feel quite like this. So I need to cherish this feeling while I have it. Because, in the future, I'll obsess over getting it back.

By then, it'll be gone.

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Will Conway


Former political software guy. Now a traveler and adventurer, which isn't a job, and host of the @heybaggageclaim podcast, which really isn't either. Travel stories no one tells.