(first of several scrawls from my journal over the last few weeks, computer-less in India)

Oh shit. OH SHIT.

What have I done? Where the hell am I?

I sit on my thin single bed, in my cold little room, and cry. All the other new arrivals seem excited and happy. I hear their friendly chatter through the walls as they unpack. I begin to unpack, too, keeping my hands busy to calm down. I am exhausted. The last 20 hours have been blurred by travel – two flights, Chiang Mai to Bangkok to Delhi; taxi ride to a bed for a few hours; then awake and at the loony, teeming, filthy railway station by 6 a.m. for the Morning Shatabdi train, Coach 7 Seat 59, taking me 5 hours north to the…. ashram, for lack of a better word. A meditation retreat. Three weeks of regaining balance and harmony and perspective and direction and love for myself and others and all that good stuff. Or so I hope.

Thailand was wonderful. It kept me happily busy, remembering how fun it is to visit other countries. Languages I don’t understand, narrow twisting streets, temples, unreadable maps, denominations of money that mean nothing to me, explorations with no itinerary, delicious strange food, jungle hikes, waterfalls and the sweet company of a dear friend who is living in Chiang Mai and running an Ayurvedic center. Thailand was a perfectly atmospheric mid-life crisis salve, and I loved it.

This is all very well, but it’s not solving any of my problems.

Sightseeing is over for now. I knew it was going to be hard, doing this. Oh I’ve talked up a storm about how difficult it would be – but I was so sure I needed to do it. In the months prior I would nod earnestly and repeat that this trip was absolutely the best thing, the only thing, for me to do.

Whatever. Now I am stuck here. I am lonely, I am homesick. Too late to back out. I feel a fool. I am halfway around the world and STILL have to deal with my own head.

I look at my bottle of anti-anxiety pills. Just one? To calm me down? That’s what they’re for. And that slow, blurred feeling is so nice… but no. NO NO NO. Instead, I rinse my face, put on sunglasses to hide my puffy eyes, and head outside – into the strange filtered-sun Indian afternoon. My stubbornness kicks in. Time to get to the point.

If I’m stuck here, I am going to DO this.

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