1 Day to Go!
It’s been a chaotic few days and to be honest, my head is still spinning from the effort. After weeks and weeks of slow, ‘plodding along’-style planing and preparations, we’ve suddenly taken a dive into the fast lane and been whisked up into a frenzy of organising and sorting, with barely the time to catch our collective breath as task after task piles into our laps. The ‘to-do’ list seemed to just continue growing by the minute, with every successfully completed item being rapidly replaced by at least 3 more. Actually, for the first time in my compulsively-organised, ‘to-do’ list-loving life, I pretty much abandoned them altogether, choosing instead to rush in a flurry, fuelled by sheer adrenaline from one part-finished task to another, frequently forgetting exactly what I was intending to do just half way on route to actually doing it. Sleepless nights of waking in a startled panic were following long, exhausting days of endless tasks.
But at last, I have a moment to breathe.
It’s really hitting, right now, just the sheer enormity of what we’re undertaking. To me, it seems far greater a challenge than the original travelling dreams I anticipated undertaking as a teenager or a childless graduate- because not only am I scooping up my son into my plans, I am uprooting an entire, ‘established’ life that has taken years to create. The very foundations of whom I have become these past 5 years or more are being carefully boxed away- everything from the very first furniture we bought as a family, the endless piles of baby items purchased ahead of Theo’s arrival, to my ‘memory’ boxes and diaries, my photos, ornaments, and my beloved books. Packing everything away has been eerie to the extreme. Although I hate to think of myself as a materialistic person, I do admittedly hoard a great deal- and as I collected together all these items, I couldn’t help but notice the ‘definition’ they provided of my life. Anyone daring to look into those stacks of boxes could piece together pretty much a complete picture of the person I “am”- my passions, dreams, my hobbies, skills…my guilty pleasures and my shortcomings! It was as though I was seeing a blueprint of my life as a whole for the first time. Both enlightening and slightly unnerving.
The process of packing it away was actually therapeutic. It’s as though I’m being given the opportunity to pack away that ‘chapter’, the ‘old’ me as it were, and approach this venture with a clean slate and the rare capacity to make absolutely anything of it that I chose, without the boundaries or confinements of who I believe I am- or was. Perhaps I’ll be pushed to try things I wouldn’t normally otherwise entertain (actually, a 5 month cycle tour in itself is definitely something I wouldn’t normally contemplate undertaking!!) or I’ll simply be able to appreciate what we’re doing from a different perspective. By packing away my life, I hope I’ve also packed away any of my prejudices or assumptions about the trip, and can approach it fresh-eyed. Who knows.
One thing I clearly haven’t shaken, however, is my sense of sentimentality- because whilst Matt remains enviably unruffled by this weeks experiences, I must confess to lacking that same degree of nonchalance. And when we finally dropped off that last load of our belongings into our steel container and I stood back to take in, I was utterly overwhelmed. Everything about me was being locked away in that steel box.
Suddenly I didn’t feel so confidant and truly questioned our motives. A classic wobble, I’m sure- but as I teared up and looked longingly at my comfortable (!) king-sized bed, my piles of books and Theo’s battery-powered car, I wondered if I actually had what it takes to abandon a life in pursuit of a dream such as this one. Do I have the mental strength, let alone the physical capacity? Is this actually what I want? Is this right for Theo, for us as a family? How on earth do we recover from an uprooting as tremendous as this one? Wasn’t my life enough previously? Why couldn’t I continue to be happy in the world I had so painstakingly strived to create for us these past few years?
Perhaps though, this is exactly what we need- as individuals, and as a family. of course without actual experience I can’t say for sure, but I do agree wholeheartedly with that rather cliched saying-
“The only things you will live to regret are the risks you didn’t take.”
So yes, it’s a risk. A huge risk. But I would never forgive myself if I allowed fear to win the day and turned my back on this experience. It’s not just something I want to do, now- it’s something I have to do, need to do. And in spite of the many (!) hardships I’m sure it will entail, I don’t doubt it’ll be worth it as an overall experience. My old life may be going into a box- but my ‘new’ life, or my life for these next 5 months, will be wide open and unconfined. That’s a freedom few have the chance to enjoy- so I need to embrace it as such.
And so, I’ve trudged through the past 2 days almost in a haze of combined numbness’indifference and sheer panic-induced denial. There are moments when it hits and I experience that surge of excitement and euphoria- and times when I still can’t actually grasp the fact that this is happening to us, and I feel myself almost being suspended above my body, watching from a distance as someone else undertakes my dream, oddly disconnected and strangely jealous of this other ‘personna’. I’m sure it won’t actually hit for real until we step onto that plane- if then!- and all I can do for now is ensure we’re as prepared as humanely possible- and boxed up completely.
Just one more day of preparations to go- and we are now officially homeless, jobless and minus our belongings.