Bags from different stores scatter my bedroom floor, hoping to find their place among the multitude of items I’ve gathered for my trip. 

Lists are being made and remade. Things are being crossed off and boxes are being checked. And yet I still feel like I’m forgetting something.

My YouTube history is full of travelers videos on how to pack, what to pack and things to expect in Vietnam. All the while my stomach is still doing this constant churning thing and I’m losing sleep thinking about the unexpected.

I don’t know what Vietnam has in store for me; the wonders, the history, the people. How they will receive me? All I know is that my brain doesn’t know when to pause, when to break, when to become comfortable with the unknown.

What is this fear that is filling my belly?

Maybe I should just be hopeful. Hopeful that this may be one of the gr. Hopeful that I will find a new voice. Hopeful that I will meet some amazing people. Hopeful that I will learn something about a people we rarely acknowledge even after fighting a long treacherous war with them.

I feel like I am being thrown in there. It was my choice, I made the plans, but I keep expecting the worst. I am expecting to lose my luggage. I am expecting to get lost. I am expecting to feel lonely. I am expecting, expecting, expecting… 

My fears lie in the not knowing, but maybe that should be the exciting part about all of this. 

I am writing this last bit as I sit at my gate at JFK, waiting for my flight to into the unknown. I am surrounded by the faces of my fellow travelers; some look tired already, while some look comfortable, like they’ve done these 14 hours before.

But none look like mine, black and anxious.