This is the very first picture of me ever taken outside of the United States on the morning of my very first day as an expat. I’d gotten on a plane in Memphis a little nervous and a lot excited and landed bleary eyed in Beijing two days later still nervous and even more excited. (Don’t I look totally awesome with my red eyes and 14 hours on an airplane pallor?) I’d thrown caution to the wind to travel to the other side of the planet to be with a boy – THE Boy – and as I got off that plane a wave “Oh crap, now what?” hit me for the first time like a ton of bricks. I had no idea where to go or what I was supposed to do. We’d talked for months about me getting on that plane. We never really talked about me getting off. We never talked about the practical things like passport checks and security checks. We never really talked about where we were going to meet or what to do if somehow something went wrong. We never talked about the bigger picture and what exactly me getting off that plane meant. As I stood there … alone … in a completely foreign country … I did the only thing I really could do. I took a step forward. I trusted that he would be waiting for me on the other side and somewhat miraculously, he was. He’s been there everyday since.
That was almost exactly 10 years ago to the day. I was just a few months shy of 30 years old….