It is a typical March day in Portland, Oregon. Rainy, dreary with splashes of bright color from spring buds blooming. I woke up from an intense dream and have been in a funk all day. After tearful conversations with John, I've shaken loose some of the gunk that is making me grumpy. Much of it has to do with feeling like we're attempting to do something impossible. I know plenty of people have done it, do it... but now we're face-to-face with this longtime plan and it feels utterly daunting.
Between now and July 1, we are clearing out our four-bedroom house of all our stuff (selling, donating, gifting, dumping), putting only a few items into storage, and selling our beloved house all the while planning a trip that will take us to far off places, for at least a year. And, we're doing this while we have jobs and typical life obligations.
It feels impossible.
The amount of to-dos on my list is growing exponentially with each thing I discover needs tending to and I am constantly split between the feeling of untethering from home ownership and building up a new reality with the trip. It is hard to describe, but it feels like a contradiction and one my little psyche struggles to comprehend. Today, for instance, I have to go through every single book I own with the intention of only keeping a few (I have a lot of books), I need to finish clearing out all my art supplies and crafts, tiny little pieces, and figure out where to donate or give them to because regardless of how small, it all has value! And, my husband and I need to go through our looming "trip prep" check list and figure out what is due, what we're behind on and what we need to prepare for. Nothing about this planning is simple. While we have a plan of countries we want to visit, we're also not over-planning and will allow for spontaneity. That being said, we have to prepare just in case: vaccines, visas, clothing, travel insurance, travel-friendly bank accounts, communication options (so our wonderful parents don't have to worry too much about us).
I thought, given how I feel today, this was the right day to start this new part of my blog. This will be where I track our process (and my feelings) along with all the remarkable moments, as connectivity allows, of our journey.
We talked about a yearlong trip in the first weeks of our relationship, nearly twelve years ago. Its been part of some distant plan and was something that comforted us any time we were going through some awful thing. And now, we've crossed some major milestones in our lives that have brought the future to the present. And I am realizing I will not feel ready at any point in this planning process. I now realize we have to keep moving forward with "the plan" even if we want to put on the breaks. The breaks aren't valid, its just fear, and all the more reason to keep moving forward. We've pushed out the departure date a couple times but have used up our last extension. I am on a contract with my job that was set to end last December, then March and now, the end of June. But that is it for extensions. This gives us an absolute deadline, which is good because we work well under deadlines. We'll need to sell our house before my last day of work so we can pay for living expenses between the end of my job and the beginning of our journey.
I am not anxious about the trip. Not anxious of being without a house. The anxiety is similar to what I would have felt leading up to the day I jumped out of a plane... I don't know what it will be like, feel like, sound like, taste like... all I know is that it is completely new, everything about it. And that is one reason we're taking this trip. We are not looking for comfort or familiarity. In fact, we're picking places that will provide nearly no familiarity and sometimes, no comfort. And it is all on purpose.
The day I sat with my legs dangling out a plane door, 12.000 feet above the Earth, all I felt was present and curious. The anxiety had lifted and I was in the moment. There was nothing to attach my mind to and I refused to let worry and what ifs play in my head. It was a truly new experience and it changed me for the better. My reason for seeking out experiences that challenge my sense of being tethered (to comfort, ideas, beliefs, etc.) is so that I can experience aspects of myself that have been asleep in my otherwise highly predicable life.
The trip in many ways began months ago, with the planning and the letting go of various anchors that kept us in the life we live currently. Anchors we loved dearly, our two cats and dog, as well as my husband's hip replacement, which he has to have at least a year before we left for the trip. What is left are the anchors of our house, my husband's business, and my job. We're figuring out when my husband will notify his clients that he is closing up shop, after nearly 14 years of business. Probably in the next month or two! We've told our families and are telling friends. We know it it hard for our families to imagine us without the security of a house, jobs and out in the world with no tethers. But we have to do this--it is a calling.
So much to do and so many to-do lists to manage but in the end, it will leave us with no to-do list--and that is something to get excited for!