Welcome to New York

Entry #1.3 / 8th June 2022

The group that had formed before we entered the plane got separated due to the location of our seats. I stuck with Lewis and Ellie, slowly making our way to border control amongst many other travellers.

            “Oh god…” I started as we walked under the “Welcome to New York” sign and towards the queue for border control. “This is the part where I have to resist making jokes. Which, I cannot tell you, is very hard in tension filled situations like this!” Lewis had laughed with a small shake of his head.

            Once in the queue, I saw a sign located near the standing clock that advised everyone that border control will take up to thirty to forty-five minutes. Possibly longer depending on the time of day and year. Shifting my attention to the clock itself, I began to yawn as I mentally did the math.

            “It’s only twelve here,” I ran my hand down the side of my face. “I’m ready for bed already and I’m guessing it’s only around five in the UK.”

            “Sounds about right.” Lewis agreed, finishing his own yawn.

            Staring at the clock a bit longer, I let out a snorty giggle. “You know, when you think about it, since we set off at around nine am, and now it’s around twelve pm, we’ve only been flying for roughly two hours.”

            A large burst of laughter came from Lewis. “That is true!”

            “And those two hours went by so quickly!” I gestured my hands dramatically. “I just about remember where I sat.”

            “I can’t even remember that!”

            “Were we even on a plane?”

***

“I don’t know whether to be relieved or concerned that they didn’t ask more questions?”

            We had lost Ellie in the queues that eventually separated us. Lewis and I were able to stick together, which I felt guilty about.

            Since we appeared to be together, both of us could go to the desk together. I was immensely grateful – as though someone else there could help me keep my mouth shut from any stupid jokes that might vomit out. But it turns out there was no need to worry. We were only at the desk for a max of five minutes. Just asked for documents.

            Lewis had just shrugged at my question. “We’re through, that’s what counts.”

            Following the signs to the luggage claim, we soon found our group beside the designated flight luggage area.

            “What the hell?” I exclaimed as I watched one of my new co-workers, Jacob, revive his suitcase. “Why is your suitcase so small?”

            Jacob had just shrugged. “I didn’t need much and didn’t want to bring much.”

            “How much does that even weigh?” Another co-worker, Mary, asked, sounding just as surprised as me but there was more politeness to it.

            “15kg.”

            “Don’t talk to me.” Courtney mumbled, moving to collect her own luggage.

            Once we collected all our luggage, we slowly made our way towards the exit. A few of us, though, had our eyes glued to our phones, reading the instructions given by our new boss.

            “She said they would be near Dunkin’ Doughnuts.” Lewis concluded, his voice louder than normal for everyone to hear.

            Fortunately, the search wasn’t a long one. As soon as we left the gate luggage area, we found someone holding a sign with our camp name.

***

The transportation to the camp was… unexpected. No offense to Uber drivers, but I thought we would be using a bus or a minibus to get to camp itself. I didn’t even want to think about how much getting Ubers throughout the day was costing the camp.

            Probably not the brightest of ideas.

            There was four of us who went in the Uber before us, but the next five of us didn’t have to wait long for the next uber. Soon enough, we were making our way through airport pickup stations under the American sun that showed no mercy for us measly Brits. I could literally feel my sweat form its own sweat.

            Playing a puzzle game with our luggage in the trunk of the Uber for five minutes, we all bundled into the seats. I sat in the middle row with Cameron, who was the last to join our flight group at Heathrow Airport.

            When we were all settled, Cameron went to close the door.

            Suddenly, the Uber driver started shouting at us. At first, since his words were muffled by the plastic protective COVID barrier between us, I thought he was ordering Cameron to shut the door in a particular way. But when he stopped, we learned what the shouting was actually about.

            “Oh shit,” Cameron uttered out as the door slid closed on its own.

            “Oh god!” I pointed to the sign above the door, just below the door handle. “It says right there – don’t pull!”

            “That’s your fault!” Cameron examined with a teasing smile. “You told me to pull!”

            “Only after you started!” I laughed with Cameron as the uber pulled out of the pickup area and headed onto the roads of New York.

***

The Uber journey was a quiet, slightly tense one. The driver wasn’t please with either me or Cameron and occasionally sent us death glares (something we took amusement from). Alongside that, we were all tired. And hot. It was boiling. Courtney aided all of us at one point in handing out wet wipes to help cool us down.

            However, all our struggles within the car went out the window as we saw the landscape of New York City in the distance.

            I was suddenly hit with similar memories of when I was fifteen years old – coming to New York City for a school trip. A younger, different – almost another life – version of myself was giddily jumping up and down in her seat, screaming with her friend at actually being in New York City. Singing the FRIENDS theme tune along with other students as our four-day adventure officially began.

            Memories, though, were like those grainy old films. Beautiful when reliving and visiting them, but nothing compared to physically experiencing them.

            Life has taught me in the last decade that every moment is precious – fully living and absorbing. That fifteen-year-old self would’ve never had a moment just to… breathe it in.

            I stared and stared at the view, my mind overwhelmed by the feelings of awe, wonder and utter, complete disbelief. The memory of the fifteen-year-old me wasn’t just coursing through my mind – it was screaming. Screaming alongside other memory screams. My whole life flashing before my eyes, causing me to casually put a finger to my wrist, feeling my pulse scream against my skin too.

            “I think it’s starting to hit me now.” Cameron said, and I was surprised momentarily to have heard it through the wild party in my head. “That we’re here.”

            My eyes refused to shift or blink away from the view, breathing becoming both light and a heavy burden. “Not for me.” Images of a darkened room, tears and indescribable loneliness ran through me as my mind started to slow down. “I don’t… I don’t see how it could.”

***

Over an hour in the Uber, we arrived at the camp. The most startling thing to me as a born British person was how overly friendly everyone was. It was nice, but a bit of a culture shock with that.

            Do you think it’s some kind of a trick? I wondered as I shifted through my belongings to find my shorts. Like, the American alure before they slaughter us in our sleep?

            ‘Okay it’s official – you’ve watched too many true crime documentaries.’ The responsible voice dramatically hailed. ‘And I don’t think it helps that most of them are based in America.’

            The group of us were then given a tour of the camp, and I didn’t know fully what to expect. However, I didn’t expect it to be as huge as it was. Two areas for swimming with at least eight swimming pools, three basketball courts, yoga and dance stations, archery, a farm (I freaking loved the alpacas) and I could go on and on.

            I thought my secondary school was big.

***

“I hope no one is following me as I have no idea where we’re going.”

Entry #1.2 / 8th June 2022

Security wasn’t as bad as Courtney and I had anticipated. I was terrified they would say my carry-on was too big, but no one batted an eye.

            At first, it was a bit awkward as we spoke. Understandable – we had just met, didn’t really know each other to understand our personalities or quirks. But whenever it felt like an awkward spell was among us, I attempted to make a joke. Courtney either giggled or laughed at them, which I knew was mostly at sheer politeness. Some of the jokes I was coming out with wasn’t even the slightest bit funny, and I would scold myself for later. Though, I hope it helped settle down her nerves.

            Once we got through security with relative ease, we found a spot under a huge roof window in the waiting area. As we waited, one by one, we were joined by others from our camp and on the same flight whom we had met through social media. It was a bit overwhelming – new faces and various personalities – but this was where my bubbly part of my personality came in, and the jokes just got more horrible.

            Thank god we’re were in the polite phase of knowing each other and they laughed.

            Soon and finally again, it was time to get to our flight gate, and we all started walking one way. It was only when we stopped on the travelator that I glanced around to all my new co-workers. “I hope no one is following me as I have no idea where we’re going.”

***

“I don’t know how I’m gunna survive this.” I groaned out.

            After half an hour of getting to our designated gate, going through ticket/passport clearance and the boarding hall, we boarded the plane. Unfortunately, CA didn’t understand the concept of a group sticking together and scattered all our seats. Some were at the front, a few in the middle and others in the back.

            I know they have a lot on and a lot of people to book plane tickets for… But maybe better planning, organisation, is in order?

            Fortunately, I was at the back with two of my new co-workers – Ellie and Lewis. Ellie being in the same row, and Lewis seated in front of me, but had his body angled towards me as various passengers placed their luggage in the cabins above.

            “Seven hours sitting down doing nothing? I can barely stay still for two minutes!”

            “Same here.” Lewis glanced over the sea of people before returning his gaze to me. “We’ll suffer through this together.”

            Once people began to settle down, Ellie and I found out – to our delight – that the seat between us was free. The passenger hadn’t showed up.

            “We can put our feet up then!” I grinned to which Ellie agreed with a small smile of her own.

            Before I knew it, the plane lifted off the ground and into the bright sky. I pushed my lips together to contain the laughter bubbling in my throat. I don’t wanna let on to anyone just let about how much of a weirdo I am, I mused as I casually held a fist to my mouth to ensure my adrenaline junkie traits would stay hidden.

            Gradually, we got higher and higher in the air, and I watched the United Kingdom get smaller and smaller from the window. This is where I expected to feel a range of emotions – a hall of nerves, crippling anxiety, bone-shaking fear. I mean, that’s what you read in books and see in films, right? The main character going off to their grand adventure but feeling despair of leaving their loved ones behind and leaving the place they’ve known all their life. Questioning whether they can actually do this or not.

            But there was only calmness. Calm with tiny, tiny sprinkles of excitement.

            Shouldn’t I feel… sad?

            Self-doubts clouding me like those from the view below. Isn’t this the part where I feel more panic? Or complete despair of being so far away from my loved ones?

            ‘Loved ones you don’t see on a regular basis.’ The responsible voice pointed out. ‘It might be different if you saw them often but…

            My head flopped backward, and I let out a heavy sigh. Guilt fluttered through me as I thought of Dad, my sister Zara, my best friends the Ashley’s (Jonesy & Mitchy) and Evan, and a few other friends… I knew on some level I would miss them; I missed them all the time. But the guilt of not feeling guilty, of not feeling sadness of leaving the country, the distance becoming so much further, hammered on me then.

            Wrecked with these waging thoughts and emotions, I couldn’t watch the last remains of the United Kingdom disappear from view.

***

Sometime later, I was hit with another emotion – envy. I glanced over occasionally at other passengers on the plane, and I was astonished to see a vast majority of them asleep. Sleeping in a car is one thing, but on a plane? Totally different ball game there.

            ‘At least you don’t get motion sickness on a plane!’ The bright voice happily concluded – finding the positive spin on everything.

            I wasn’t alone in these feelings of envy.

            “I don’t know how people do that.” Lewis had commented as we both stole a glance to the sleeping passengers near us.

            I shook my head. “I can’t even sleep that well in random beds, let alone anywhere else!”

            Despite my grumblings about not doing anything for seven hours, I wasn’t completely bored throughout the flight. Most of it consisted of listening to music, reading (fanfics, because I’m that girl) and watching the FRIENDS Reunion and Miss Congeniality. Oh – and using every opportunity to go to the toilet just to physically move.

            I think I also needed this time to fully absorb my thoughts and feelings too. Maybe find some conclusions…

            Though, any conclusions I could’ve come up to were stopped by constant rabbit holes of confusion. Wow, my life is pretty much Alice in Wonderland.

            ‘I hope not,’ the bright voice weighed in with a twinge of seriousness. ‘Blue never really suited you.’

            Not true. I couldn’t believe I was getting into an inner monologue argument. What about that light blue hoodie?

            ‘Hoodies don’t count.’

            ‘Yea, just add more rabbit holes why don’t ya?’ If the responsible voice was a physical being, she would be rolling her eyes.

            Before the inner argument could escalate, I saw the passenger window’s view begin to change. Glancing to the map display on my screen, I saw where abouts we were and how there was only twenty minutes left on the flight.

            With a huge, fat grin, I watched as the plane got closer and closer to the land beneath us.

            America. New York.

            Despite the blistering pain that was building in my ears of the impact of the plane returning to the ground below, I felt excitement bubble through me. Alongside a mountain height of disbelief to the point I had to pinch myself to physically confirm that I was seeing what I was seeing. I was actually here. Finally.

            The plane skidded onto the landing platform. Everyone wide awake and ready for the next stage of the adventure.

            When the seatbelt light switched off, Lewis turned to me. “Alright?”

            I grinned with an eager nod. Here we go!

***

“Ready?”

Entry #1.1 / 8th June 2022

It was a rare occurrence when sleep doesn’t come naturally, particularly within a moving vehicle. Yet, my body was electrified. Fully awake. Fully alert. Not wanting to miss a single moment. Though it would probably have been a good idea to get some sleep, considering I had no idea what the day would bring.

            But here I was, strapped up in the passenger seat of my Dad’s car, head leaned against the window, music blasting in my ears, and eyes fixed on the roads ahead. I watched the night gradually transforming into the early morning, the silence of the motorways giving way to the bustling hours filled with caffeine-induced drivers. It seemed to stretch on for what felt like an eternity.

            And, miraculously, I managed not to throw up in the car – an accomplishment that both pleased and impressed Dad.

            The journey couldn’t last much longer however, as we were swiftly approaching our destination.

            Heathrow Airport.

            Shifting through my childhood memories, clearing the haze from those windows, I can confidently say I’ve been there once. Maybe twice? That would’ve been at an age where I thought there was only one massive airport in England instead of several.

            Oh, the naivety of youth.

            Brought out of my music-filled trance, I tried to assist Dad in directions of the terminal we needed and then through the car park. Tried being the keyword. His masculine pride insisted he knew the way and I eventually left him to it.

            Observing the car pass beneath several towering road bridges, the need for streetlamps diminishing as sunrise began, I waited. Waited for that feeling – any feeling.

            Doubt. Fear. Nerves. Excitement. Anticipation.

            Those emotions were present, to some extent, but they were mainly centred around different elements. The most significant concern was anxiety regarding my plane ticket and whether Camp America actually booked my flights. Since online check-in wasn’t possible, it was hard at first to locate which terminal the flight was. It was only after speaking to one of the representatives of CA that I found out it was Terminal 3. And then I would have to give them my ticket reference number through my CA account, which left me with tons of anxiety.

            What if they can’t locate my flight information?

            But then, as always, the responsible voice was there to slap me. ‘They will for god’s sake!’

            As I shook off those thoughts, Dad finally located a car park and started to drive through. Isn’t this when I should start feeling a tornado of anxiety come crashing down? This isn’t a holiday; this is a job – a job aboard. Somewhere I will be staying for at least three months. Living in America for three months. Shouldn’t I feel more scared at this point?

            ‘No.’ The responsible voice weighed back in; its tone softened down. ‘You’ve moved more cities and places than anyone. Abroad should be nothing.

            “Here we are.” Dad grunted out, bringing his car into a stop into a parking spot. The parking lot was dark, the sunrise still not high enough to shine through, leaving only the dim lights to aid our sight. “Ready?”

            ‘Ready!’

            ‘Ready as I’ll ever be…

            Squaring my shoulders, I forced a smile. “Yep.”

***

Fortunately, we arrived early. Half an hour early to be exact. Better to be early than late, aye?

            Hunger clawed at my stomach as soon as we started walking through the terminal entryways. It probably didn’t help that I hadn’t eaten anything before we left. I hadn’t even properly eaten since the previous morning, as the small anticipation I was feeling couldn’t let me stomach any dinner food. Seeing how agitated I was getting, Dad correctly guessed what I needed, stopping by the Nero Café within the terminal. A toasted sandwich and orange juice quickly quietened the beast within.

            Afterwards, we located the terminal check-in I needed and once they verified my COVID documents, I was at the check-in desk. All anxieties squashed. Camp America did book my flight, the check-in assistant found my flight details with ease. Whilst there was a mini-panic attack over my check in luggage (23.7kg), they didn’t charge me and checked myself and luggage in.

            Once Dad and I moved away from the desk, I glanced down my phone and saw a message.

            “Oh!” I slowed down my steps towards security entry. “Courtney is still here!” Thanks to the twenty-first century, social media helped me find others going to the same camp as I, and Courtney was one of few to be on the same flight as me.

            Dad raised his eyebrows. “She hasn’t gone through security yet?” He looked around, as if Courtney was to pop out like a Jack in the Box.

            The search wasn’t long, not when Courtney is the one to find us.

            “Courtney?” I asked the girl approaching us in a shy manner.

            “Rose? She responded.

            I nodded and moved to hug her. “Hi! It’s so nice to finally meet you!” Is a hug too soon?

            Luckily, Courtney returned the short hug. “Yeah, you too!” Courtney replied as we ended the hug. “I was so nervous that I checked in right away! I’m so sorry! But I saw you at the check in, so I decided to wait!”

            “Thanks!” I let out a breath of laughter. “I’ve been shitting myself about security.” That was true – it’s been a while since I’ve been through airport security, but every time I have, it feels like I’m on trial for murder.

            Courtney returned the laugh, the nervous energy she carried slowly slipping away. “Oh god, same!”

            I grinned before I suddenly remembered I wasn’t alone. “Dad,” I began to gestured towards Courtney. “This is Courtney. Courtney this is my Dad, George.”

            Dad pulled his lips into a friendly smile. “Alrite.”

            “Hi!” Courtney responded politely.

            I narrowed my gaze to where Courtney had come from. “Where are your parents?”

            “Oh! They’ve gone now!” A pure nervous laugh came through Courtney. “We said our goodbyes. Cried like a baby.”

            I shot her an understanding smile and thought of something comforting in reply.

            Unfortunately, Dad beat me to it.

            “Well, that’s a better response than yours!” Dad examined with a teasing smile. “Why haven’t you cried?”

            My chest momentarily constricted, eyes widening, as insecurities surfaced about my apparent lack of worry or sadness over the situation.

            Thanks Dad for making me feel more like a weirdo.

            ‘He’s just teasing,’ the bright voice came in first.

            There was a scoff. ‘At least you know where you get your non-filter mouth from.’

            I forced myself to roll my eyes in effort to move past the teasing. I knew Dad wouldn’t know how deeply that comment would cut me, nor that he had any intention. And I had no intention confronting him about it as, for one, Courtney didn’t need to witness that. Secondly… what would be the point? As much as I love Dad, when it came to delicate situations or emotions, he was about as useful as a doorknob without a door.

            “I think that’s where we go through security.” I nodded towards the escalators that held the obvious security sign above.

            Courtney nodded. “Ready when you are.”

            “I’ll leave you to it then.” Dad stated with a heavy sigh.

            I gave a small but confident smile. “Bye Dad.”

            “Bye.” We then had our usual short hug that was followed by: “have fun.”

            I grinned and attempted (and probably, terribly, failed) a wink. “I’ll try!”

            And with that, I grabbed my carry-on luggage and followed Courtney up the escalators. It wasn’t until much later when guilt hit me over the fact I had no urge to look back.

***

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“First York, then New York!”

Echo #0 / 15th September 2018

Sleep had become easier to me over the past year. I didn’t know if it was a result of the stress, the medication I started roughly around this time last year, or a combination of both. Either way, I felt grateful. Sleep had been something of a myth to me – I did get experience it, but not consistently, nor was it restful. Nightmares, and at times, night terrors, often kept my conscious mind awake, and deep slumber only came once in a blue moon.

            However, in the past year, everything changed. In addition to completing my last year of my undergraduate degree and wrapping up my final project, I prioritized my mental well-being. I dedicated myself to DBT sessions, completed their assigned homework, attended counselling, secured a part-time job to support myself, got into meditation, and began regularly going to the gym. With so many outlets and resources, I had been slowly confronting the demons of my past. Embarking on a journey towards improvement, healing and growth.

            And with that, the nightmares began to fade away. Occasional ones still cropped up, but deep, peaceful slumber was becoming my best friend.

            It wasn’t too surprising to find myself slumbering off during the journey of the day, my head resting on the car door, music blaring in my ears with the morning sun casting shadows on my face.

            Hours later, my mind yawning to life, I groggily opened my eyes. Neck screaming, the bright daylight was the ultimate punishment as I awoke to the rushing roads of the motorway. My eyes gradually adjusted to the much brighter morning than just hours before, and I stretched my arms as much as I could within the confinements of the car.

            A physical yawn quickly followed, and as I slowly crawled out of my sleepy daze, I heard a muffled sound amid the blaring music. I removed my earphones and shifted my focus to the driver.

            “Have a nice nap?” Dad asked, his tone dripping with playful sarcasm. His grin, ever-present, never failed to remind me of that drugged up cat from Alice in Wonderland.

            I offered him a faint smile before another yawn washed over me. “Yeah, it was alright thanks.”

            Dad maintained his smile, but he rolled his eyes and focused on the motorways ahead. “Shouldn’t be too much longer. You think you can stay up long enough?”

            “Dude, I gave you two options.” I scoffed playfully, shifting in my seat as it was starting to ache a little. “Either I sleep the majority of the way, or I throw up in your car.” I extended my hands in gesture, settling the debate.

            Dad rolled his eyes once more, his remnants of a smile making me laugh, but neither of us said anything. We both knew I struggled with motion sickness, particularly on boats or ships. Even the smell of the seaside can could trigger me to feel ill or sometimes throw up.

            I turned off my earphones and gazed out of the window. Various cars raced by, all eager to get to their destinations. My eyes drifted away from the motorways to the lines of trees at the fringes of the man-made world. Swaying in the September breeze, the sun was shining brightly today, causing the tree’s seasoning leaves sparkle. The clear blue sky seemed ready to engulf the entire world.

            My eyes lost to the world’s natural scenery around me, while my mind embarked on a quest. Search for… something. Perhaps nerves, dread, fear, anything that could slap me with the reality of my destination – where I was headed.

           Anything.

            Yet, I found nothing.

            Instead, a sense of calmness and even a hint of underlying excitement prevailed.

            ‘That’s good!’ The bright, positive voice within me chimed in as silent confusion swirled. ‘Isn’t it?’

            I wasn’t sure if everyone experienced this or if it was simply a unique “Rose Thing”, but sometimes, I engaged in internal dialogues. No, it didn’t indicate any mental health disorder, it wasn’t anything dangerous. It was more like an angel and devil dynamic, although which was which often depended on the situation. Mentally, I referred to one as the bright voice, perpetually optimistic, and the other as the responsible voice, occasionally bordered on being critical.

            It was during my mid-teens that the two voices, along with my own inner voice, began to surface. Looking back, it made sense in a strange way. It was around my mid-teens that I also discovered my love and talent for writing, and I suppose my imagination and creativity were always on after. These internal monologues not only provided a great source of inspiration for my stories but also entertained me when observing drama or other situations unfold.

            As I’ve grown older, especially in the past year, the two voices have mellowed. They’re still there, primarily offering commentary, but it’s mostly just me with my own thoughts. Nowadays, my thoughts aren’t quite as loud either.

            Moments like this, when I puzzled over my lack of negative feelings, made me appreciate my quirky, creative mind. In a way, it was nice to know I wasn’t alone in my thoughts.

            “So…” Dad’s booming voice broke through my thoughts. “Nerves yet?”

            Mentally, I cringed, but I fought to not have my face not to reflect that, which was a challenge. “Yeah, a bit.” I lied, hoping my tone conveyed the white lie. “Though, I think I’m more nervous for when uni starts.” That part was true. Introduction would kick off towards the end of the month, and I’d be meeting everyone on my postgraduate course.

            Meeting new people? Not something I excelled at.

            “Hmm…” Dad’s thoughtful hum, reminding me of when I was a child – a different version of myself – would say something that wasn’t a hundred percent honest, and Dad would know but wouldn’t call me out on it. “And that new job?”

            “Start on Wednesday.” I muttered, my shoulders slumping down a bit as my eyes returned to the road. “Feeling good about that. Retail isn’t anything new to me.”

            A momentary silence followed, Dad steering into a new lane and then back. “Heard from the family?”

            Instantly, my shoulders tensed. It was a reflexive reaction, something I was trying to work on, but at this stage, it was unavoidable.

            “Yeah,” I finally answered, doing my best to hide my discomfort while I remembered my last conversation with a family member. “Last night. They wished me good luck for today.” I released a long breath, my gaze drifting back to the nature outside.

            I could feel Dad’s eyes briefly on me. “What?” He inquired, no longer concealing the fact that he sensed something was amiss.

            I shook my head. “Nothing, it’s just…” Hesitation weighed on me. I didn’t want to fully express what – or what wasn’t – said, or how I felt. But I didn’t want to lie or gloss over it. “Do you think I can do this?” I snuck a glance at Dad, whose attention was fixed on the motorway. “Do you think I can build a life there? In York?”

            Dad didn’t provide an immediate answer, and my heart sank. It wasn’t fair. While I understood he needed time to consider his answer, his hesitation still stung.

            “It’s not permanent,” Dad finally concluded. “You never know, you might not even like York, and if so, you can always come back.”

            I grasped the intention behind his words. He was attempting to reassure me, trying not to add more pressure that he believed I was placing on myself. The rational, responsible side of me understood that but…I don’t want to come back, I thought sadly.

            Looking back out the window, I felt a slight crushing of my spirit. Insecurities roaring to the surface as my mind replayed the phone conversation the night before alongside my father’s words. While neither party outright said I couldn’t do it, the tones and implications told a different story. And with that, they poked and prodded my insecurities, until I felt the familiar rush of anxiety tingle through me.

            ‘Nope’, the responsible voice slapped me. ‘Nope. You are not going to have a freaking anxiety attack in front of Dad!’

            Forcing my eyes shut, I focused on my breathing. In. Out. In. Out. DBT teachings came back to me, with the instructor giving us a meditation roadmap. To create an image. A place in your mind where you would feel safe.

            Behind the darkness of my closed eyelids, the greenest grass emerged, perfectly trimmed, bathed in the summer’s sunlight. A tall tree stood at the centre, at the centre, towering over the smaller trees nearby. As the familiar scene continued to take shape, I heard a gentle flow of a distant stream, hidden away with access only through the bushes up ahead…

            The anxiety faded, and I opened my eyes, the serene mental imagery giving way to the sight of sparse nature and the passing motorways. A tiny smile graced my face as I sat up a bit straighter.

            “I think I can,” I muttered, my gaze fixed outside. “I know I can.”

            “Uh huh.” Dad let out; his tone a familiar one. I had heard it from many people too many times.

            Taking a moment, I grinned and squared my shoulders defiantly.

            “Well, you know what they say Dad.” I began, my voice carrying a rare sense of optimism and confidence as I turned my head toward him. “First York, then New York!”

            Dad responded with a sound that was a mixture of a heavy sigh and a light chuckle, accompanied with an eye roll. I couldn’t help but let out the natural laugh at that, and the atmosphere lightened once more.

            The car journey continued, progressing toward York, which would become not only my home for the next year but also for the next four years. It was a home that would grant me lifelong friends, bolster my courage and give lessons in independence.

            At the time of the car journey, all of this remained unknown to me. I was venturing into the uncertain. However, like those ancient fantasy prophecies or great ironies of life, I had jokingly foretold my future.

            “First York, then New York!

How The Blog Works

“I’m writing my story so that others might see fragments of themselves.”

– Lena Waithe

As we approach January 4th and the release of the first edition of my ‘Wanders’ for the world to see, I’d like to take a moment to explain how the blog entries, notes, and post-notes function.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

  • Disclaimers

To begin, at the start of each week’s blog post, there will be disclaimers covering the following:

“This blog is a personal diary, and the content shared here is based on my own experiences, thoughts, and opinions. I am not a professional in any field, and the information provided on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only.

I do my best to ensure the accuracy and validity of the content I share, but I cannot guarantee the completeness or timeliness of the information. The content may evolve or change over time as I continue to learn and grow.

Please keep in mind that any advice, tips, or recommendations I provide are based on my personal experiences and should not be considered as professional advice. Before making any decisions or taking actions based on the content of this blog, I recommend consulting with qualified professionals or experts in the relevant field.

I am not responsible for any consequences that may arise from following the information provided on this blog. Your use of this blog and its content is at your own discretion and risk.

I value respectful and constructive discussions, so I welcome comments and feedback. However, I reserve the right to moderate and remove comments that are offensive, spammy, or violate the blog’s policies.

By accessing and using this blog, you agree to abide by this disclaimer and all applicable laws and regulations.

Thank you for visiting and reading my blog. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable.”

I feel this is important to have as, whilst I do remember a lot and have written lots of notes, it’s probably not fully accurate and is based on my perspective, not of others.

  • Trigger Warnings

Alongside the weekly disclaimer, in the event that a post delves into a particularly distressing topic, I want to ensure that I provide a trigger warning for individuals who may have experienced similar hardships.

This blog post contains content that may be triggering to some readers. I will be sharing personal experiences and thoughts related to previous abuse, self-harm, alcohol issues, and mental health difficulties. Please be mindful of your own well-being and consider whether you are in the right emotional state to continue reading.

If you feel that these topics might be distressing or harmful to you, I strongly encourage you to prioritize your mental and emotional health. It’s perfectly okay to skip this post or come back to it when you feel better prepared to engage with these sensitive subjects.

Remember, you are not alone, and there are resources and people who can provide support. If you or someone you know is struggling with any of the issues mentioned in this post, please consider seeking help from a mental health professional or a trusted individual in your life.

Please proceed with caution, and take care of yourself as you read further.

This example will be adjusted based on the subject matter of the blog post.

  • People

Since the ‘Wanders’ are personal diaries, they include interactions with other individuals. To respect their privacy, I have altered the names of those who appear in the Entries, Echoes, and Endnote. I have also made modifications to aspects of my own previous name to safeguard the privacy of individuals associated with my former names.

When discussing my blog verbally or referring to individuals within it, I will use the names I’ve chosen for the blog. Even if individuals from the blog choose to reveal their real identities (provided it’s their choice), I will still use their blog names to ensure the privacy of others who prefer to remain anonymous.

  • Entries

The ‘Wanders’ entries will be set in the then-present time, corresponding to when I was in the country mentioned. For instance, ‘My American Wanders’ took place in the summer of 2022, so the dates will align with that timeframe.

Each entry will be accompanied by a date and a unique number. If you happen to forget the specific date but remember the entry number (e.g., Entry #12), you can easily locate it.

To enhance readability and prevent overwhelming readers with lengthy entries, I’ll be dividing some of them into multiple parts. This will be indicated by a decimal next to the entry number and another number (e.g., Entry #12.1). The number of parts in each entry will vary based on its length, but the longest ones will typically be split into four parts.

  • Echoes

The ‘Wanders’ echoes are memories from past events in my life that will enrich the week of entries that follows. These echoes will typically appear at the beginning of each week, though not necessarily every week. They will be included when necessary to offer additional context for emotional moments or insights into my behavior.

Similar to ‘Wanders’ entries, these echoes will also be numbered (e.g., Echo #3) and roughly dated.

  • Endnote

Finally, The ‘Wanders’ endnote serves as the epilogue for each ‘Wanders’ edition. It takes place after the conclusion of the travel entries and delves into the aftermath of the entire experience.

In contrast to the previous two sections, the endnote is not numbered but will include a date.

Blog Policy of Wander with Rose

  1. Introduction
  • Welcome to Wander with Rose! This blog is dedicated space for inspiring travel enthusiasts and adventure-seekers. Before you start exploring our content, we kindly ask you to take a moment to review our blog policy.

2. Content Guidelines

  • Wander with Rose covers topics related to travel, personal growth and mental health with themes relating to identity, previous trauma.
  • We prioritize informative and engaging content that is related to experiences and, when relevant and needed, research.
  • Content should be relevant, accurate, and respectful.
  • We do not tolerate hate speech, discrimination, or offensive content.

3. Tone and Style

  • Our preferred tone is causal, quirky and sometimes deeply thoughtful and emotional.
  • We strive writing that suits the tone of each post, clear and concise, and never sways to far from each other.
  • This space encourages the writing of the blog to be creative and authentic while maintaining respect and professionalism.

4. Posting Frequency

  • We aim to publish new content from it’s launch date of 4th January 2024.
  • From then Entries, Echoes and Endnote will be published on a weekly basis, ranging between once a week to five times a week.
  • How many times we will post will be dependant on the length of either Entry or Echo.
  • The days that new content will be posted will be announced each Sunday through both this blog site and social media.
  • Exceptions may occur based on the availability of quality content or personal emergencies.

5. Content Ownership

  • Content published on Wander with Rose directly belongs to Rose Jean Brookes unless noted otherwise within the post.
  • We retain the right to edit and remove content for quality control and compliance with our policies.

6. Attribution and Citations

  • We value proper attribution and citations.
  • The author should provide accurate sources and references when applicable.

7. Comment and Interaction Guidelines

  • We encourage constructive and respectful discussions in the comments section.
  • Hate speech, spam, or disrespectful comments will be moderated.
  • We appreciate thoughtful engagement with our readers.

8. Privacy and Security

  • Wander with Rose respects user privacy and follows applicable privacy laws.
  • Any data collected is used solely for the blog’s purposes.
  • We maintain security measures to protect user data.

9. Affiliate Links and Sponsored Content

  • We may use affiliate links and publish sponsored content.
  • Transparency is important to us, and we will always disclose such affiliations.

10. Copyright and Intellectual Property

  • We respect copyright and intellectual property rights.
  • The author will not reproduce copyrighted content without proper permission.

11. Disclaimers and Disclosures

  • This blog is a personal diary, and the content shared here is based on my own experiences, thoughts, and opinions. I am not a professional in any field, and the information provided on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only.
  • I do my best to ensure the accuracy and validity of the content I share, but I cannot guarantee the completeness or timeliness of the information. The content may evolve and change over time as I continue to learn and grow.
  • Please keep in mind that any advice, tips, or recommendations I provide are based on my personal experiences and should not be considered as professional advice. Before making any decisions or taking actions based on the content of this blog, I recommend consulting with qualified professionals or experts in the relevant field.
  • I am not responsible for any consequences that may arise from following the information provided on this blog. However, I will do my best to ensure any sensitive topics will be warned prior to each post. Your use of this blog and its content is at your own discretion and risk.
  • I value respectful and constructive discussions, so I welcome comments and feedback. However, I reserve the right to moderate and remove comments that are offensive, spammy, or violate the blog’s policies.
  • By accessing and using this blog, you agree to abide by this disclaimer and all applicable laws and regulations.
  • Thank you for visiting and reading my blog. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable.

12. Monetization and Revenue Generation

  • Currently, I am looking into using AdSense as part of monetization. Any other income that comes forward in the future I will disclose to the public and within this blog policy.

13. Community Guidelines

  • Wander with Rose is committed to fostering a positive and engaging community. We encourage open discussions, questions, and shared experiences related to travel, personal growth and mental health.
  • Treat fellow community members with respect and kindness. Differing opinions are welcome when expressed constructively.
  • Hate speech, discrimination, or any form of offensive content will not be tolerated. Any such content will be promptly removed.
  • We appreciate constructive criticism and suggestions that contribute to the improvement of the content and community experience.
  • Avoid spamming the comments section or engaging in excessive self-promotion. Relevant and meaningful contributions are encouraged.
  • Comments are subject to moderation to maintain a positive and inclusive community. Any comments violating these guidelines may be removed.
  • If you encounter any inappropriate content or behaviour, please contact wanderwithroseofficial@gmail.com.

14. Guest Posts and Contributors

  • As of today I have no plans to have any guest posts or contributors, but if this were to change I will let public know in advance and change the blog policy around this area.

15. Contact Information

16. Changes to the Policy

  • This blog policy was written on the 26th of December and it is not perfect. It will update and change as the blog progresses.
  • Any time there is an update to the blog, I will review and update the policy as well.