We have made it onto the airplane on the first leg of this wild adventure, and it is feeling a bit surreal. We are officially nomads, homeless with only backpacks on our backs. The past week has been a flurry of finishing up all the last minute details, from the details at work, the travel preparations and the moving details. It has definitely been a wild ride of activities and emotions.
Although I swear we had given away or moved out 70% of our stuff before the weekend, it amazed me how much there still was in our home and how much there still was to do. Unlike a normal home move where everything is packed and moved, we were still organizing and donating to charities right up until the end, which seems to take a much greater amount of time. Knowing our free storage space was limited, we were still sorting and purging all the way up to the last day. Those silver napkin rings that we got 19 years ago for our wedding that have never been used? (I am just not a silver napkin ring kind of gal.) Little mementos from trips 30 years ago? (I’ll get new ones.) Letters from friends who I don’t even remember? (Isn’t that what recycle is for?) It was just time for these things to move on to better homes. Right up until the end, we were still finding homes for furniture, our BBQ, kitchen appliances, and even dishes. We were extremely discriminate about what we kept; even then, the amount we kept turned out to be a much larger pile than we anticipated. Isn’t it amazing how many things you accumulate?
After the purging and moving of the stuff, we moved out of our house. After spending 13 years in the house, it was bittersweet. On one level, it is just a house and leaving it represents the start of a new grander adventure. But for all of us, there are also an awful lot of memories in the house. Not as many for the boys as for us, but it certainly was been the only home they’ve ever know. It was hard to leave, and we all made up an excuse to make one more trip over to the house yesterday to say farewell.
As for the travel preparation, it felt like a gigantic effort to simultaneously get four of us ready for an adventure this big. We were still shopping for clothes the boys had outgrown which we’d hoped to bring, filling Malaria prescriptions, pouring shampoo in to 2 oz containers, arranging our Thai visas, etc. For various reasons, many of these things could not be done until the last minute. Afterwards, there was the momentous job of figuring out how it was all going to fit in our packs. As they say,… Set out what you want to bring and take half. We tried. Really, we tried. In our last few weeks, we read many blogs suggesting how many outfits, what size packs, how many of each and the importance of keeping it all light. Every blog suggested small backpacks, so at the last minute, we both stepped down a size and packed it all tighter. When we weighed our packs at the airport, both Nathan and I have 28 pound packs! And, the boys’ are only about 15 each. They all feel heavy, but certainly manageable. I feel like a turtle – homeless except for the possessions pack on my back.
But in addition to all of the above busy, crazy preparations, has been the most highly charged piece… saying goodbye to friends and family. We have been working extremely hard this past three to four weeks to fit in as much time with everyone as we can. Camping trips, hikes, parties, shopping dates, dinners, meeting for day activities, dinners together, playdates, .. just trying to get in as much time with everyone. About a week ago, it started getting really draining and old. I had to continue to remind myself that I am not dying. We will be back. And, we will see everyone again. Granted, everyone will be a year old and a head taller but we will see them again. Heck, we might even talk some of them in to showing up in this next year along our route.
By far, the hardest person for me to leave is one of my very favorite people in the world, my 95 year old grandmother. She is frail and weak and will very likely not be here when I return. It broke my heart to say goodbye. Every day for the past several weeks, I have stopped in to say Hello. She is in good hands, and I strongly believe, she is ready to see Grandpa again. I wish her much peace this year.
During this whole trip planning process, I feel like I have met two main types of people: the people who “get it” and the people who don’t. Our family and friends who have a love for travel and adventure can understand our travel lust and have been so wonderfully supportive. In spite of the tears, many have expressed how much they understand and are proud (or even jealous) of our decision. The good news is that despite how much we will miss my Grandma, our parents, and all of my family and friends, I totally think they understand. We are so fortunate to have them all in our lives.