Last night I lay awake, sprawled across my bed in a feverish dream. It felt like a dream, anyway. I had turned on the fan for some background noise, and the temperature was tepid, but not to the point of discomfort. A cop had come round our place knocking madly last night, looking for our landlord. Apparently he was missing? Shortly after, more spirited knocking at our door. It being after 10p.m., the girls and I waited it out, preferring not to look. Still, it wasn’t the weird knocking or heat or food that I ate that had my stomach contused in knots, was it? I looked over at the blinking light of my laptop and thought of the research I had done for my trip. Still. Not. Done.
I would honestly say that for any big trip, 6-3 months before departure is the “honeymoon period”. Your brain is full of endless adventures and possibilities, much like a travel-induced drug. You know things will get serious, and certain energies might fade, but for now, you plan lightly and live in the world of fantasy. By 2 months, you’re still exhilarated, but perhaps a bit more cautious. You need to make good choices, but you are still scoping pictures and travel sites daily with ecstasy and glee. There seems to be infinite time between you and your departure.
T-1 month and less. I call this period the first date. It’s not just the first date- it’s with the star of the football team and you’re the band geek (à la T-swift). Every day leading up to the final push seems to be a mix of foolish excitement and stomach-churning worry. You find it hard to focus on anything else, you find it hard to sleep. Yes, this must be my dilemma.
Trips are supposed to be about a certain amount of relaxation. Even adventure oriented trips should have moments to engage with nature, enjoy a view, sip a good drink. I know this is coming, but for now my brain is scattered like my MS word documents: trains, hostels, ferries, hosts, tours, and yet unbooked items on a spinning line of information. This is just one part of my 3-week worry. (19 days, actually) The other factor is that, like many, I still have to work. It isn’t like booking a one-week trip down south. This is 62 days of nearly constant movement across 10 countries. Yes, I chose this. I also chose to leave the day after I finish work. Making the most of time? Yes. Giving myself a day to switch direction? Hell no.
Teaching intermediates means I still have five groups of kids to be responsible for. I made the decision to give most of them assignments until the end, but this also means more marking and work for me later. This Thursday, the list of jobs I can apply for is also released. I believe I have at most two days, and interviews commence right after. Intermediate teachers are partaking in grad ceremony prep. There is also my family birthday next weekend, Father’s Day, a bridal shower, grad, staff party, my birthday, cleaning up on the last day, and going. Oh, I also have to move out of my apartment. My family has rented a cottage during the last week of June, so I have to swing packing all my stuff up, getting it out to the country, and finding my way to the airport. Phew. I keep wondering how I’m going to get it all done, and where I’m going to find the time.
To add to the mix, the packing list for our trip is making me increasingly nervous. I do not own good travel clothes, let alone summer clothes that fit. Clothes are minor. I don’t have my day bag yet. I don’t have all the accessories I need for my Go Pro. I don’t have my travel adapter. I don’t have good walking shoes. Writing this is stressing me out! Fortunately, Europe is not a third-world country, and I know I can buy certain things as I need. I just realize how time is counting down and I’m getting extremely nervous. I worry I’ll forget something. What do I do about money? My cell phone? I haven’t canceled my gym membership….
Do you feel this way? This mixture of excitement and absolute panic? It truly is like going on an anticipated first date. I hope that this trip will invigourate me, and become exactly the upheaval I need after a long, slow winter, where I lay in constant wait for this trip. When I’m panicking, which I am, I need to remember where I was six months ago, how I was feeling. Every day was that dreamy, languorous honeymoon phase… the daily escapism into any article, video, discussion, or picture I could find. This stress is a pill I need to swallow to get to where I need to be. Even if I forget an item, a piece of clothing, I am getting on that plane to Dublin and I am not turning back until Berlin (unless I injure myself, but for positivity’s sake, let’s say that won’t happen.) On a lighter side, it’s fun to wander on the excitement side of this matter, even amongst the worry. I think to myself, what things might I lose? What things might I gain? What might I leave…? What might I take away? Not all loss is bad. Prejudice, fear, worry, sight of the good things. These are worth losing. Experience. Appreciation. Gratitude. Connection. Memory. These are worth gaining. Like the 16 year old walking up to meet her date, I have to cross my fingers and hope it will go well. I need to have confidence in myself that I have planned and prepared, and that whatever surprise or adventure awaits, I will be ready.
T-19… Now to order some more travel gear.