My nerves have made their appearance. I’ve kept them at bay for as long as I could, but with two days until departure, they’ve finally arrived. I’ve so often written that terror would not be part of this journey and so far I’ve been right. However, I never said – and certainly never imagined – that anxiety would leave me alone completely. And I don’t have to dig very deep to figure out where these last minute jitters are coming from. This morning I was paralyzed as I tried to actually start putting my carefully packed zip-lock bags into my duffle. I just couldn’t do it. Some people function well under stress; in fact, one of my brothers says it’s the only time he gets anything done. I, on the other hand, pretty much break down and my brain goes blank when time is tight and a deadline looms. And so today, with all the final steps of packing to be done, I couldn’t get myself to proceed. The thought of at long last filling my bags with all I had so painstakingly and lovingly gathered over the past year and possibly forgetting something critical – like phone numbers or bank account passwords or my leather date book – left me frozen, unable to move. I should probably be nervous about the things most people fear when going abroad, like pickpockets, lost luggage, or being cheated, attacked or swindled, but these possibilities rarely concern me. I could probably use a healthy dose of fear about such things now and then, but my last minute nerves are internally generated. They come from not wanting to disappoint Joe or myself in terms of having packed perfectly and being perfectly prepared with respect to the things I’m responsible for. Yes, I do have an annoying problem with perfection... (Joe’s in charge of electronics – our chargers, phones, electrical converters and all other gadgets with a plug – so none of that concerns me.) I’ve been getting ready for this trip for years now, and the tangible results of all my meticulous planning – books, maps, articles, documents, clothes, hiking boots and toiletries – are strewn across the bedroom. It’s all coming down to these final steps of putting what I’ve collected for our year in my luggage and the pressure is just too great. I don’t want something that goes wrong to be the result of my forgetfulness, carelessness or lack of foresight. Not all will go as planned, I’m sure, but I just don’t want the blunders to be my fault! Reminding myself that I still had two days ahead of me to go over my mental and physical checklists and to pack and repack as needed – we weren’t leaving in a matter of hours, after all – brought me back to reality and into action and the task of filling (stuffing) my bags was accomplished. I now have one duffle, one overnight bag, a backpack and a fanny pack, each filled to bursting and ready to go. The trick will now be remembering in which bag I put what and where I stored the bank account passwords...
No More Keys
We sold our car today on Craig’s List and with the sale, we said goodbye to our last key. As our departure day has approached, we’ve had fewer and fewer keys and as we've relinquished each one, the more free I feel. The first to go was the key to our second car last spring, then the keys to our home in June, next the key to Caroline’s apartment last week and finally, the key to our 1999 Chrysler. Homeless, carless, carefree. It feels good. We have no more keys and it's time to go.