The need to travel was an urgent desire I couldn’t stem down. Like a fire burning in my gut I felt would consume me had I not set my mind toward it. My date of travel was set on June 12. My birthday was a few days away and I was determined to spend it in a foreign land.
Was I afraid to be doing this? Very much I was. I was so afraid some nights as the inevitable day approached, I thought I felt my blood boiling underneath my skin. It was a big risk I was taking: quitting my job and setting sail for a world I’ve never been to before, all to see about chasing after a dream of becoming a published writer. Some might argue (and really, a lot of my friends already did before I took this decision), against my going all the way to the U.S., to see about getting my book published. The irony is that I know few people around me who indulge in the habit of reading anymore. Creativity is something that’s lacking in my society, and even then it’s hard getting normal folks to understand the magic behind stringing a pair of words together to create a thought process.
The day arrived, and I boarded a flight from Port Harcourt to Lagos, and spent several hours in a lengthy queue before getting my passport stamped at the Lagos Muirtala Mohammed Int. airport. Plenty of travelers there, though I doubt any of them had the same journey mentality as I had. The hour arrived and we all filed into the plane an hour before midnight. I must have held my breath when the plane took off into the air, and plenty of fellow Nigerians occupying the Economy class section of the Arik flight burst in high spirits of hand-clappings and praising as the plane’s wheels left the earth and took us into the sky. I looked out my window and the city’s disappearing lights, wondering if I would see everything again in the same way as I was then leaving.
I remained in my seat soaking up everything in disbelief. I had a novel in my hand, but I was too caught up in the moment to think of opening a page. Moments like this, you feel your life flash before your eyes: everything you’ve been through before and how it all possibly somehow led to this moment, to this action happening. You weight every choice you’ve made against choices you didn’t take, and you keep beating yourself over the head about it: Am I doing the right thing or not?
That question has never left my head since I arrived in the U.S., and even after I left. Even as I sit down to write this, I still don’t think I’ve arrived at the answer. I can only take a cue from that classic movie The Sound of Music:
“Somewhere in my youth or childhood,
I must have done something good.”