“You know what they say about the Karma Payment Program,” the adorable girl with black heavy-set bangs and a nose ring says, as she hands me my parcel from across the counter. I muse silently, for only a quick second, thinking mostly about how clever that saying was and how unfortunate it was that I had never thought to use it before.
“Erm, no, what do they say?” I am now curious, riveted that what started as small chat about paying for parking in downtown Victoria is lead to a conversation of much deeper sorts.
“It’s a total bitch.” She flashes me a huge smile, her glowing white teeth perfectly aligned against her thin lips. I can’t help but to laugh at her adorable little monologue and witty observations. The phrase stuck with me and it has become a constant as I have been observing and indulging in my buffet of thoughts over the last few weeks.
My Karma Payment Program has come roaring to life with a vengeance just recently when Jon, post nap, yelled at me from the bedroom to come quickly. I poked my head in to find him smiling broadly ear to ear. “Guess what, the training camp base in France is only about ninety minutes from the Tour De France, and I’ll be there at the perfect time, so maybe I can convince-“
I cut him off mid sentence by letting out a sob.
He looks at me puzzled as I proceed to have a complete weep fest while remaining completely standing. I begin to blubber indecipherable words. No I’m really actually quite happy for you that you’re going to a training camp in the Pyrenees, I want to say but can’t. I also want to add that I am not jealous at all, Tour De France is no big deal and isn’t on my bucket list. I try to say, no big deal you’re going to Europe, been there a ton myself anyways, it will be awesome in the summer, instead big tears and hiccups come out. What I am shocked to observe in this moment is that I feel no sadness. All I feel is jealousy. Sheer, unaltered, complete and full jealousy in its boldest and most radical form.
I manage to eek out to him that I am crying jealous tears and he consoles me saying we will go there one day and rent a chateau and follow the tour together and eat bread and cheese and wine although it will make both our stomachs hurt and follow the tour anyway.
Later that afternoon as I lay with my feet up against the wall I began to wonder. I am participating in my own Karma Payment Program?
I spent the better part of four years leaving people, in various places, all over the world. Specifically I left my family the most, missing a variety of Important Events due to the career I had chosen. As I explored what the job had to offer, every time I boarded a plane I knew I was leaving behind people who loved and cared for me. For the first time since the swapping of careers I am suddenly on the other side of the fence. It is I driving to the airport and leaving it alone, painfully aware of the empty space in the passenger seat next to me and the heavy silence of the little place we live when I get home.
I think of all the people who have dropped me off at airports, and how excited I often was to board the plane. Sure, I thought of the folks that mattered who I was leaving, but in the pursuit of pure life, pure adventure and pure selfishness I would often brush that emotion aside in favour of Whatever I was Doing That was Cool and The New Thing I was Seeing Next.
I have watched Facebook come alive with my Backroads friends travels: Alaska, Greece, California, Ireland, France, Italy, Switzerland, South Africa, Iceland. I try to look at the photos and think, this is good for them, how totally exciting, wow that’s lovely. I know deep in the depths of my heart I don’t want to be gone for months at a time, that I have so many new and exciting goals that require a concentrated focus and the being in one place for longer than six weeks. I know I chose this, and I am satisfied, beyond satisfied, with my choice. But still.
I am filled with an envy. A little lustful envy that refuses to quiet. It lists all the places it still wants to go, singing alongside the current of thought that fears it will be a long time until another adventure. My wanderlust grows as one of my new friends in Victoria speaks lovingly and openly about her time living in India with her husband, for the girl at work leaving for Russia in just a few weeks to take the train across the country, and my very own boyfriend, heading to a European training camp. I lay in bed at nights sometimes and peel through the pages of my passport, my favourite little blue book, which is kept in my travel wallet beside my bed. I can’t explain the need to keep close tabs on it, and now I feel like somewhat of a freak admitting I like to keep it near where I sleep. I know its pages by heart, the little ridges along the outside, the stickers and stamps and ink that makes it come alive.
My Karma Payment Program may be sitting in one place, watching others go, being taught fully the 360 vision of what it means to leave, but now what it means to be left behind. Like in Buddhist principle, I am attempting to observe and learn from my karma and pay my debt with humility and awareness. I say attempt, because I mean it’s a trial in every sense of the word.
But I am secretly also praying a big trip might be in store for me this year, yet…