The Caged Bird Sings but it Cannot Fly: London, UK – May 1

Girl Gone International, GGI, Spread MyWings and Fly

Credit: GirlGoneInternational.com

It’s time, once again, for this little birdie to fly. Only this time, I’ll be in my second home so I’ll be staying put for a while.

Getting to London was hectic, as I wanted to avoid London Heathrow Border Control who had interrogated me several times before. According to them, I’m a flight risk because I’m unemployed and stay with my British boyfriend. **exaggerated eye roll**

So I flew from Florence to Paris, then took the Metro across town to catch the Eurostar train into London. I allowed very little timing for error. So naturally, I had nightmares about missing one of my connections.

But it all worked out. I even got to have breakfast, lunch and dinner, each in a different country…no big deal or whatever :))

3Meals3Countries

I made it look pretty on Instagram, but traveling this way is anything but glamorous. When you’re hauling ass across three countries in a day, on public transit, sweating from dragging your 18-kg luggage up and down the metro station stairs, let’s just say you don’t look sexy. At all.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Hotels and taxis remove you from the reality of the country you’re visiting.

I’ve loved the adventure, the need for self-reliance, and the unpredictability of it all. When I publish my book someday, or become the VP of marketing at a tech startup and I’m ballin’ outta control, I would still travel the same way I do now.

I get a rush from traveling like this…

…from having to figure out how home appliances work in every country.

…from having to learn a new metro system.

…from struggling with a new language and stalking out free wifi like groupies do NBA players.

I’m forever changed. A fire ignited in me last year and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put it out, nor do I want to.

I read an article last year called “Don’t Date a Girl Who Travels”.

It painted a portrait of the solo female traveler as this beautiful free-spirited, yet completely unattainable creature. The author went so far as to suggest that if you should fall in love with such a girl you should let her go, as if it were impossible for any man to keep us happy.

Although I can relate to parts of the article, I disagree with the author’s view that the traveling girl woman is directionless, unable to hold a steady job, wasted her college degree and is now probably a yoga teacher.

Have we progressed so little as a society that we still view “independence” and “relationship potential” as mutually exclusive traits in women?

Women aren’t your possessions. Even in a relationship or a marriage, we are not yours. We are ours. We choose to be with you so long as you continuously honor the expectations of the relationship, and vice versa.

And if you aren’t comfortable standing next to us in the spotlight or letting us lead sometimes, then I agree you should seek a woman who is comfortable taking your lead.

Besides, I have no intentions of living my entire life out of a suitcase. As much as my heart yearns to watch the sun set on a new horizon, I yearn even more for one city to call home.

And guess what? I’m living proof that women like us can and do fall in love.

It happened to me on my first day in London last year. Trust…I did not intend to! In fact, I was dead set on beating any love prospects away with a stick…and possibly a taser.

GGI_FellInLoveAbroad

I was on my “I-don’t-need-a-man” Independent Woman hype. The last thing I wanted was to fall in love overseas and then miss that person when I returned home.

My emotional walls were up pretty high. Most men would have been intimidated by that. Here I was, a California latina “slash” hip-hop journalist, with my camera and laptop in tote, with enough money in the bank to have open-ended travel plans for the foreseeable future.

What could any guy really say to me to get me to want to trade all of that in for a relationship?

That’s why nobody tried. I interviewed a lot of male artists, kept it professional, and met a lot of interesting and incredibly talented people in the process.

But it’s as if Jordan already knew we were going to be together, even before I did. He was patient and accepted that I wasn’t ready for anything serious (yet).

He didn’t want to cage me, but he made his feelings very clear from Day #1 so there was never any guessing about where he stood. He was never afraid to put his heart on the line – not for one second. He was a totally open book.

He wasn’t threatened by my independence, my prior divorce, my travel plans, or my residence in California.

He let me be me.

Yet he treated me like his Queen even before we were in a relationship. Over time, his actions and his consistency made it so that I could live without him, but I no longer wanted to. Over the next few months, we found ourselves willing to do anything to be together.

When I first started traveling, I predicted I’d end up in Barcelona or London getting some Expat job for a work visa. Meeting Jordan changed all that because we had to decide, early in our relationship, which of us would move. After spending a few months with him in London, we both decided we’d be happier together in California.

I look forward to settling down in Cali. And as strange as it may sound, I’m ready to get back to my marketing career as it’s something I‘ve worked hard to build.

But my sense of adventure, my desire to explore new street markets, watch sunsets on the beach, or get lost in the winding streets of a new city – that will remain in me always.

I smile when I admire my tan lines and know they came from different countries. My hair is frizzy and often smells of sea salt. My iPhone camera roll would rival a travel magazine. And my Facebook News Feed is full of updates from people I’ve met around the world.

GGI_Homesick

And it may mean my heart will never be fully at rest because it lives in different places, but I’m okay with that.

After all, that is the downside to all of this. I’m always missing a person, a city, or counting down the days I have left with someone I love before I have to leave them. But that also means I don’t take anyone or anything for granted.

So to the author who believes that girls women who travel are basically a lost cause when it comes to relationships, I say:

I happen to think the wildest, most beautifully plumaged bird is also the most worthwhile to pursue…

…because you can’t trap it.

You must earn its trust and affection over time so that it may choose to fly beside you, rather than sacrifice its world for yours. I was a man’s possession for over a decade and would sooner die than return to that life again.

Now that I’m back in London I get to unpack my suitcase, figure out my game plan for Cali, and spend much-needed time with the man who makes me want to fly beside him every day.

To all the men/women who hold a mirror to their woman’s light to help it reflect into the corners of the darkest room: bless you. You will raise daughters who will enter the world with all the approval they will ever need, rather than seeking it from a partner, friends, social institution, or media-warped society.

She will know her worth and her beauty. And she will never need to know why the caged bird sings…

because she will be f r e e .

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6 comments

  1. thedragon · August 29, 2014

    soso good 🙂

  2. Sharon Njie-Rothery · August 29, 2014

    Beautifully written and very poignant words! ❤ XX

    • maaridee · August 29, 2014

      Thank you Sharon! Your son was my inspiration xx

  3. Barbara B-G · August 30, 2014

    This is so beautiful, Mariela! I couldn’t be more happier for you. It was your love for yourself that healed you, and it will always be love that will bring you back home.

    • Mariela · August 30, 2014

      Thanks B :)) And you’re right it was love (for myself) that healed me, over time. It’s good to be back with family and I can’t wait until he’s here in America with me.

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