ByLandersSea Abroad : 1
You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.
Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why
Life brings change. Like most folks, initially, I resist. Come on, who wants to leave their comfort zone? But, as I begin to reflect on my drift through life, I know that throwing myself into discomfort and uncertainty forces me to grow. Slowly I let go of the present, inch forward with tentative ideas and eventually embrace a new path.
Rising rents tightened my budget. I had to face the reality of moving out of my beloved condo in the historic downtown district of St. Augustine. Now, I realize that a move is nowhere near the challenge of fighting cancer. Nonetheless, it’s stressful. Where would I live?
I found myself betwixt and between; I wasn’t ready to commit to a new home just because.
So, one day, while on my morning iPhone remote walk with my old marathon-running buddy (she lives in Philadelphia now), Judy says, ” I have a wacky idea. Don’t say ‘no’ right away. I need you to think about how you can say ‘yes’ to this idea. I have spent some time marshaling my arguments as to why we need to do this.” Then, she blurted out, “What do you think about traveling the world for a year?”
My immediate response was, “That’s it. Yes!”
It was almost an exact repeat of our first marathon run over 15 years ago when Judy volunteered to run a marathon with me under just one condition. It had to be outside the continental United States. And of course, I agreed. Thus, our first marathon was run in Athens, Greece!
Judy doesn’t hesitate when it comes to travel, and now it is my livelihood, so indeed, this was the time to live out the dream of traveling the world.
I’d put everything I own in storage and use the rent money to fund an extended trip.
Judy and I fantasized from nicknaming our escapade ‘Two Broads Abroad’, to buying a round- the-world airline ticket and spending a few weeks here and there: Cambodia, Shanghai, Scandinavia and, of course, a month in Tuscany and Paris.
But, as sense and sensibility crept in, our itinerary and joint budget evolved. We whittled down the journey to six months, all within Europe. Plus, the Schengen Agreement limits one’s time within most European Union countries to 90 days. Hence, we needed to include Eastern Europe and a flight to St. Petersburg. We accepted half a year as long enough to savor the experience of extended travel. Australia, Asia, and Bali would have to wait.
Packing and moving my worldly possessions into storage proved another issue. That project required heavy lifting and deep introspective thought. I admit, I own too much, and this opportunity became an ideal exercise of downsizing. I began in my closet, jettisoning outfits I’d swear I wear again but never did. Shoes were a bit tougher because I have a fondness for shoes, but out they went. I can’t say I am down to a manageable closet, but Goodwill received many, many bags of clothing.
I proceeded on to my office where crammed bookshelves begged the question, “Am I ever going to reread or use this publication for research?” Again, Goodwill accepted numerous boxes of books.
In the kitchen, cookbooks tugged at my heart; I’m a collector and love to read cookbooks. I gave away many to friends and promised myself I would purge more books when I reopened the boxes in the future. But really, what are the chances?
I planned to allow myself enough time for the exercise, but in the end, I dumped the entire contents of drawers into packing boxes. I made several trips to the food bank in attempts to empty my pantry. Still, the preparation seemed endless, and the number of cartons I filled was overwhelming.
Finally, the day of the scheduled move descended; it was too late to back out now. Last minute details clogged my head. Had I packed correctly for the big trip, plus the next six weeks, clothes for two media trips, and a duffle with summer outfits that my daughter would bring to France when she’d visit me in June?
The movers didn’t appear until 11:00, two frustrating hours late, and we still needed to pick up the rental van. To add to my angst, the clouds burst open and didn’t let up for the rest of the day.
The men began loading the parcels in the rain. Perhaps the downpour would stop so they could fit the bigger furniture in later. No. Just about the time they were ready, we were informed that the elevator in my building was shut down. (My apartment was on the third-floor.) A pipe burst in a second-floor unit the previous night and flooded two units below. Why had someone just now realized the elevator shaft had accumulated water in the basement?
Ugh. We waited for clearance that never came. Eventually, we had to unload the contents of the moving van to my storage unit and return the vehicle. Luckily, I wasn’t required to be out of the condo until Sunday, so I’d complete the move two days later. To save money, the movers would load my furniture onto a flatbed truck, eliminating the need to rent another moving van.
Anyone remember the opening trailer of the Beverly Hillbillies TV show? By the time my belongings were crammed onto the flatbed, this Granny was embarrassed. Furniture was stacked at awkward angles, rolled up carpets extended outward, and everything had to be tied down with ropes. Slowly this disheveled truck made its way down the road. Fortunately, we didn’t lose anything in transit.
I returned to clean the sad and empty looking space I’d previously called home. By the time I finished, I was utterly exhausted, and my back was killing me. Perhaps that was nature’s way of preventing me from lingering.
I now had six weeks left before the flight to Istanbul, and took up temporary residence on a horse farm in Ocala, thanks to the generosity of the owner. I’m trying to live by a saying, “The key to happiness is letting each situation be what it is instead of what you think it should be.”
The adventure begins. Where it ends, I don’t know.
Please follow along our upcoming adventures at www.bylandersea.com.
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