“Somebody ought to tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit every minute of every day. Do it, I say, whatever you want to do, do it now.” — Michael Landon
Posts from the ‘In the beginning’ Category
After finally making it to NYC yesterday and delivering my uncle’s passport, I went to Brooklyn for the afternoon to spend time with another aunt and uncle. We went to the brooklyn bridge park and walked along the water front with views of the Manhattan skyline and the statue of liberty in the distance. Quite the nostalgic view for my departure from the country.
Big shout out to Ed and Hillary for feeding me and getting me to the airport – it made for a relaxing departure – seeing as my mind was far from relaxed. to-do lists, running through what was in my pack and what was not… my mind was full. Then, the full gravity of what i am doing and where i am going hit me when i got in the Qatar Airways line. I quickly could tell that i was not like the others. I definitely was the only dirt bag in line, with my chacos and my backpack. I recieved lots of stares from the predominantly indian and middle eastern crowd – men and women mostly dressed in salwar kameezes (is that the plural form?).
On the screen, it showed where we were in real time and how that corresponded to day/night. I seem to have bypassed wednesday – I will depart for Kathmandu in a few hours (and by few – i really mean about 4). The Doha airport seems to be mostly centralized around a huge duty free shopping area – it even includes a car! All the signs are written in arabic with an english translation below. Men are walking about in traditional arabic dress, long white flowing gowns and checkered head-dresses. There are some women in burkhas. I am trying not to stare, though I am intrigued.
I had dreams about school on the flight over – thinking of everyone at Ren, hoping the first day was awesome. And hoping all the alums are starting school and doing great. much love everyone — next time i will check in from kathmandu!
Besides the craziness of the flooding in NY and Vermont, Irene is messing with my life more than I would like.
I weathered the storm with my fabulous friends Matt and Jess – good food, good tv and some fun walks in the wind and rain. Plus I got to say goodbye (again and again) to Jess (other Jess) and Brant – which was super nice. Prolonged goodbyes seemed to make saying goodbye not as hard (because each time I said goodbye, it seemed I would be making plans to hang out again).
The new plan was to drive to Albany today to meet up with my father (because all train service was canceled – so he was going to take a bus). But on my way to Albany, he called to say that buses were not running either. so some guy was driving him and a few others who were trying to get to the area….
Fast forward a few hours and they were still trying to get around the floods. I was sitting at the Albany area, stressing about packing. Finally, he called to say there was no way around and they were headed home. So, I headed to my mom’s house – sad that I did not get to say goodbye to my dad.
There was fear that i would not be able to get into the city — flooding, trains and buses out — but good ol’ Metro North is up and running, so that is helpful. So, I will take a train into the city and then head to JFK.
sounds smooth, right?
Nope, not yet. My aunt called — my uncle left his passport in upstate NY, he is in the city and he flies out tomorrow. So, I am headed back to Albany, pick up the passport and then headed into the city.
oh, and everything (which seemed like not all that much) is NOT fitting in my bag…. this is making for an exciting everning…..
My plan was to head to New York today to see my mom, have dinner with my grandfather and then meet up with my dad tomorrow before heading to the airport for my 11:30 pm flight (sunday evening)….. that was my plan until Irene asserted her will with 80+ mph winds….
Now, I am unclear on when I will leave Northampton. I am meeting up with my dad on Monday morning for the car swap and then I fly out of NYC on Tuesday evening, arriving in Nepal on the morning of the 1st — two days after the original plan and a day after Katherine arrives.
At first, this morning, I felt frustrated. I want to leave – or rather – I want my adventure to begin. I have been staying with friends all week, I haven’t fully packed yet, I am living out of my car. I am ready for some semblance of normalcy (or at least living out of a backpack versus out of my messy car). i don’t want to loose out of any time in Nepal. I want to get out there! But – I am fairly powerless in setting my own schedule against a hurricane.
Irene is reminding me to take everything in stride. I could be stranded at some developing world airport without any friends in sight. I could be in a lot worse places than with dear friends sharing a great meal, waiting to see how irene will impact us tonight. I will get to Nepal this week, I will get myself packed and ready to go and I will begin my adventure (or wait, did it already begin?)
So, thanks Irene – thanks for reminding me to let go of my expectations and just jump on for the ride.
really quick update….
I have moved out of my apartment, all of my stuff is either being used by the person subletting, in storage or in my car. My car is full of clothes for course, clothes to bring on my trip and clothes and gear to be sent to Argentina for climbing. And there are a lot guidebooks in the back.
I leave for my 22-day outward bound course on saturday. out until august 20th.
then 8 days later, I get on a airplane.
hard to believe it is all happening…..
When I tell people about my plans, I usually get one of three responses:
1. Aren’t you scared?
2. Are you traveling by yourself? (which is followed by question number 1)
3. Is this an Eat-Pray-Love thing?
Yes. Yes. No.
Of course I am scared. The list of what-ifs goes on and on….
what if i get malaria? what if i run into a huge snake in southern india? what if i get lonely? what if I get really sick? what if I get abducted? what if I run out of money? what if I get hurt and have to come home early? what if I miss my mommy? what if I get my head chopped off? what if it turns out I don’t like traveling?
as you can see….. the mind can run rampant with these what-if questions (and all of a sudden I am transported to my classroom and how my students love the what if questions and I can understand the 10th grade brain in a whole new way…..)
But, at the same time, I guess I don’t know what I would be missing if I don’t go. I don’t know how lonely or how scary it will be — since right now, I am just imagining the possibilities. But to live it and see it and experience it…. then I will know. And sometimes, the idea of just staying is as scary and lonely as anything else I can imagine….
5 days until I move out of my apartment. Just ask me if I am ready…. come on, just ask! ok, I’ll tell you. um, not ready. nope, not packed.
and as for the eat-pray-love thing…. i mean, i guess because she traveled – there is that similarity. But i am not a writer, not getting paid to travel and not-getting-a-divorce-rebounding-and-breaking-up. So there is that. Nor am I julia roberts. just sayin’
That is what my brain has been full of this past weekend – lists and gear and money and visas.
Now, don’t get me wrong — i love a good list as much as the next type-A-control-freak-who-is-not-all-that-organized, but currently I have about 10 lists all over the place. The other day, I found one in my car. Huh, a lot of good that one was doing for me. Good thing I had most of the stuff written down somewhere else (most items seemed to be cross-referenced on about 75% of the lists).
But, let me give you a perspective on my day (yes, this day in which I had nothing really to do – except, you know, tackle THE LIST(s) — which, is coincidentally, just about the only day in the next two and half weeks when I did not have something else to do):
-wake-up; go exercise (while thinking about either the to-do list or what gear to bring with me or what I should do when I am in Vietnam); come home – get ready for my day; drink coffee while thinking about getting to my to-do list; spend two hours looking at gear online that I still need to get; make another list of gear to purchase; check online account; add up budget (AGAIN) – think about how much below budget I am – count up hours working this summer – do the math (again); read lonely planet (start with nepal, move to patagonia, then back to nepal, then to bolivia, then vietnam, back to nepal); and repeat (well, except for the wake-up part).
yes — you might notice that there is a lot of thinking and list making and more lists — but not a whole lotta action happening… yeah, in fact — if you saw my room right now, you would not really believe that i am moving out in 16 days (I mean, how long does it really take to pack up everything?).
Two and half weeks… at which point I will be out of my apartment and head to Maine for a 3 week OB course. then back here for a week before I leave. crazytown….
but tomorrow — tomorrow is going to be a new day. I have promised myself that I am gong to make all my important (read: scary) calls this week (insurance, loans, and more insurance). I will mail out my passport for my Nepal visa (since I just got it back with my India visa). I will get boxes to pack my stuff. and, in the process, will learn to let go of all my lists…. that is my mantra these days – it will all work out….
oh, and just for the record….. it is hard to come up with a gear list when you are going from trekking in the Himalayas to traveling through India to lounging on the beaches of vietnam to trekking and climbing in the Andes and Patagonia….. you try it – think about that gear list for a moment – it isn’t small.
Yup, here are all the clothes I am bringing. Some of you might think this is not a lot, but this spread seems a lot bigger than my list seemed…. hmm…. guess I don’t need much more!
When I had a dog, I loved being a dog-owner. Besides missing my hiking-traveling-frisbee-road-trip-backpacking companion, when I had to put my dog to sleep, it was strangest to get use to not being a ‘dog-owner’ any more. For so long, I had a been a ‘dog-owner’. That was who I was. I was the person who went home to walk my dog. I was the person who took their dog hiking. I was a person with a dog. And then… suddenly, I wasn’t. I was a bit lost those first couple of weeks. Who was I? What was my new identity?
Right now, I kind of feel that way. The school year is over. No more teaching, no more grading, no more planning and rushing to the copier first thing in the morning to prep for class. No more 5:15 runs going over the lesson plans in my head. That has been my identity for the past 5 years. Teacher. Renaissance. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am quite alright to not have any more grading. But, now the question is – what is my new identity?
traveler? explorer? itinerant? vagabond? wanderer?
Two months until departure. Just sayin’…..
Why leave a job I love, salary, benefits, kids and co-workers that challenge me and keep me laughing? Why leave a community of friends and a living space that I adore? Why leave the safety of what I know and feel comfortable with?
I have never been one to choose the easiest path. When I was a senior in high school I moved to France to be an exchange student with only about two years of weak high school French under my belt. Twice I have moved across country to places where I knew only one or two people. And most recently, I moved to western Massachusetts to help open a school, not knowing anyone but the person who hired me.
But this feels different. Friends love to make fun of me and my endless list making. If nothing else, I am practical and pragmatic. I love making lists. I love planning for the future. But now, all I know is that I will be traveling for 9 months. I know there is no way to plan out all of the trip. I cannot foresee every change that will come my way, every bump in the road. Or what exciting adventures I will find out there!
This adventure is going to be a challenge. I anticipate that I will see and learn and grow in endless, countless ways. But really…. so why go? Here are my reasons – both big and small.
1. because it’s there. Like Mallory, I want to go for the sake of going – for the adventure. I want to see what’s out there. I want to climb and trek and hike all over the world.
2. I want to learn spanish.
3. I love my job, love my work – but there is a whole big world out there – ready for me. I don’t want to be that disgruntled teacher, going through the motions year after year. I hope to return after this year fresh and ready to jump back into the hard work of teaching.
4. There is so much cool stuff out there — I need to see it! Being a biology teacher, I am continuously in awe of the world and natural wonders. I cannot wait to see the Himalayas, the Andes, the beaches of Vietnam, Thai temples and Patagonia.