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  • nadiyahpeacock

Feeling Grounded in Puerto Rico: A Month Before Quarantine 2020

Updated: Sep 19, 2022

Warm weather, fresh fruit, tan skin and gorgeous beaches describe my perfect vacation. I also enjoy exploring, meeting new people and learning about different cultures. This is all I really wanted for my 23rd birthday. I'm a February baby and I was in desperate need of some sunshine and tan lines. My sister- friend's birthday is a few weeks before mine, and she decided to go to Vegas to celebrate her 25th birthday. I ended up meeting her in Vegas, and I traveled to Puerto Rico a few days later. Yes, I was doing a lot. I didn't do anything for my 22nd birthday, so I wanted to do something exciting for my 23rd. I had the time and money to do it, so why not?

Vegas was so much fun. Bright lights, loud music, laughter, drinks, casinos, clubs. I enjoyed every moment, even though I was there for about 2 days. I was a little sad to leave, but I was still looking forward to my final destination, Puerto Rico.

I left Vegas and I had a 2- hour layover in LA, then a 30- minute layover in Philly. I was literally on the go. I raced through Philadelphia International Airport not realizing how big the airport truly was. As soon as I got to my gate, passengers were called to start boarding the plane. I'm glad I went with my gut and avoided taking a bathroom or snack break, because I would've missed my flight. I was so proud of myself because I was alone and navigated multiple airports without missing any flights or losing anything. I was a traveling pro at that point, and I was getting used to that lifestyle.

It was finally my turn to board the plane, and I just couldn't wait to finally feel some sun. About 5 hours later, I'd arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico! Everyone clapped as the plane landed, and I couldn't stop smiling. I couldn't wait to turn 23 in Puerto Rico! I entered the airport and I went down to baggage claim. I was smiling ear to ear while I waited for my luggage, and I took my phone out to record a video of the carousel. I posted it on my IG story with "Where the Bag At" by City Girls playing in the background. (This is an inside joke between another sister- friend and I). It was funny at that moment, but the longer I waited for my bright blue suitcase, the less funny it became.

After about 20 minutes or so, the carousel was empty. I was in Puerto Rico, and my luggage was NOT. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who was missing their luggage. Because our layover in Philly was only 30 minutes, there wasn't enough time to put our luggage on the next plane to PR.

I was calm for a while, and just happy that I was in PR. I had to go to CVS to get some toiletries, and I used that opportunity to practice my Spanish with my Uber driver. We had a great conversation, and I was still very calm and happy to be there. I finally got connected to my Airbnb host, and she was so sweet and welcoming. She told me how I could possibly have my luggage delivered to me from the airport. I called the airport to check the status of my luggage, and the first guy I spoke with looked up my information and noticed that my birthday was about 2 days away. He said, "Oh your birthday is almost here! Turn up, turn up!" I laughed, but in my mind I was thinking, "Yeah, y'all need to turn up with my bag." A few hours later, I made another phone call to check the status. The woman confirmed that my suitcase was on the plane so I felt better.

It got later and later and I received another phone call. When I answered the phone, I could tell something was wrong by the sound of the woman's voice. She told me that my luggage was not on the plane and I wouldn't get it until the next day. I had a little breakdown because I was told the complete opposite a few hours ago, my birthday was almost here, and I just wanted my stuff.

This moment really taught me to be present, relax, and slow down. I was on the go and I finally had a chance to sit down. I was literally forced to. I had no other choice. I couldn't control the fact that my luggage wasn't there, but I had to enjoy myself as best as I could.

My other sister- friend finally came and she gave me some clothes to wear for the time being. We got food, explored Old San Juan, and I eventually got my luggage from the airport. My favorite part of the trip was the beach. I always feel at peace at the beach. It's truly my happy place. I love listening to the waves crashing and feeling the soft breezes. Writing my name in the sand, feeling the sun on my skin, and the waves crashing at my ankles were joyous moments for me. Being in nature was just what I needed to feel grounded again.

At that stage in my life, I had graduated college and had my first full-time position. I completed 2 milestones, but I still felt very anxious to start creating the life that I truly wanted to live. My mom and brother were getting ready to move out of the country, and I felt the need to rush to find my path. I was experiencing so many changes, and I felt overwhelmed. I work well under pressure, but I've learned that I don't have to put extra pressure on myself to get to where I need to be. Everything will work out for me at the right time, exactly how it is meant to work out.

March 2020, a month after my birthday trip, we were forced to quarantine because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was grateful for that trip right before the world went on lockdown. 2020 wasn't the best year, but it did allow us to be present. From ongoing racism, COVID-19, death, Black trauma, the presidential election, and so much more, 2020 was a draining year. You had to stay grounded for the sake of your mental health. Some of my grounding practices include meditating, practicing yoga, praying, dancing and journaling. These practices really make a huge difference in my mental, emotional and physical health.

My birthday trip to Puerto Rico was the start of my adulthood travel diaries, and I was so grateful for the experience and the messages I received while exploring the island.

“Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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