Eight Junes ago, I moved to England by myself. I was tough as nails in the weeks leading up to my move but when the day came, I was a blubbering mess in the airport lounge. I left weepy messages on my family's voicemails and I fought the urge to call that cute guy (Shawn!) I'd been dating casually before I decided to leave. I shivered - partly from the freezing cabin, partly from nerves - the entire way to England and when the plane touched down after ten sleepless hours, I barfed. I was sitting next to a cute Irish guy (who had the curliest blonde hair I'd ever seen) and when he asked me if I was okay, if I had anyone to take care of me, my last shred of dignity disappeared and I whispered "nooooo" as my eyes filled with tears. Fortunately the plane had come to a stop and the "fasten seatbelts" light went out and I escaped to the lavatory where I hid until I could take a deep breath without crying.
There's a certain smell in the air in Vancouver come June. The air is light and fresh and brisk without being chilly. It hits suddenly, this smell. One day it's grey and the air smells only of rain and dampness and then the next day the rain is still there (after all it is Vancouver) but the air is crisp and green and I'm transported back to June 2004, driving to the airport with the windows down, trying to remember every detail of how Vancouver looked and smelled and sounded.
This smell will forever remind me of the first steps I took toward being the person I am today. The person who will travel alone, will eat in restaurants alone, will spend a lot of time alone without feeling lonely, who will meet a whole lot of new people and be able to discern who is worth holding onto no matter the distance, who isn't afraid to live.