Confessions of a soon-to-be nomad

by Kim on April 15, 2012 · 35 comments

Countdown: 36 days until our trip begins

Suddenly we are in a time crunch- leaving in just five weeks.  How did that happen?  Like a rock tumbling downhill, it took awhile to gather speed but now we are hurdling towards departure.

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The trip felt more real months and even years ago.  Now, at five weeks away, I can’t even see it.  Like standing at the base of a redwood tree that I’ve hiked for miles to reach. When I started, I could see the complete, majestic organism. But now that I’m beside it I can only see the peeling bark, this great round trunk.  

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My emotions look like the peaks and valleys of a seismogram during an earthquake.  I’m high, I’m low, I’m steady, I’m shaky.  To deal, I’ve begun pretending that we aren’t really leaving at all. It’s the emotional equivalent of climbing into bed and pulling the blankets over my head. My co-worker joked that she would loan me her button of an ostrich with its head buried in the sand.  Make it two, I thought, one for me and one for my mother. 

Productively, I feel frozen.  I’m a planner, which means that I always know what needs to happen next, but a procrastinator, which means that I still don’t do it until the last minute.  This has lead to a state of paralysis.  My planner side screams about my to-do list and counts down the dwindling number of days I have left to complete it.  My procrastinator side sits on the couch watching marathon sessions of America’s Next Top Model- British Invasion and says, with a dismissive flip of the wrist, tomorrow, tomorrow.

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The “lasts” have started.  Last trip to Seattle to visit my sister, last Timbers game, last burrito night with the neighbors.  These are mostly sad, though “last staff meeting” is a good one.  The lasts have allowed me to view my life with fresh eyes, like a stranger visiting a place for the first time, and to really appreciate the wonderfulness of my life and all of the amazing things and people that fill it.

My last Timbers game

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There’s an irony in how hard it is to own nothing, to whittle down your possessions and your bills and even the roof over your head.  I mean, what do we do with all this stuff?  The stapler, the flower pots, the rubber spatula: It’s all good stuff, but who needs it?

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Brian made a final doctor’s appointment for a checkup, to get blood work done, and to get the overall ‘all clear’ as far as his health is concerned.  The doctor asked why he’d come in since he appeared to be a healthy guy.  Brian explained our trip. The doctor seemed intrigued and said: You’re like the people I read about.  Brian got a kick out of that.

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I am failing at the things I do to keep me feeling like myself: Long runs in the woods, journaling before bed, eating well and not drinking too much.  Even my prayers, which I have found so much clarity and relief in, have turned to just plain begging: Please keep us safe, please show me the next step, please teach me what I need to learn.

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And yet, there are glimpses of magic and small reminders in the midst of this tornado that the winds will stop and all will be calm again.  As I was sitting at my desk the other day, silently stressing out about everything, I overheard a conversation a co-worker was having on the phone with a friend.  She said: The way you live your life is the statement that you make. So live it, live it.  

Overhearing her advice was like a hand plucking me up out of my fear and holding me dangling over my own life.  As I hung there, my legs kicking at the open air, I could see again the big picture.  That life is scary and unpredictable and uncontrollable and beautiful and full of all the good and all the bad.  That the only thing we have at the end of it is how we’ve lived it.  So that’s what we’re doing.  That’s why we’re doing this.  To live it.  To live it.



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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Torre – Fearful Adventurer April 15, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Weeeeeee!

That is all.

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Kim April 15, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Haha. Weeeee. Quite a trip.

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Ian [EagerExistence] April 15, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Exciting times before leaving on a big trip… so many fears (of the unknown), so much stress and organizing.

But only 36 days until you leave it all behind, and start really doing it.

I’m jealous for new beginnings. Not long until my next one either :)

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Kim April 15, 2012 at 8:50 pm

New beginnings are the best. I am reminded of a quote from a movie (what’s the name of the damn movie? My stupid memory…) Anyway, “Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, it’s the middle that counts.” OH! The movie is called Hope Floats. Anyway, I’m excited to live the middle.

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Amanda April 15, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I don’t think these feelings are odd at all. Something as huge and momentous as giving up everything to travel can be overwhelming!

Hell, I’m only going away for 2 months this summer, but as this is the longest trip I’ve ever gone on, and considering I haven’t done nearly as much planning as I should have yet, I’m already starting to freak out a bit!

Hang in there. Once you’re on the road, it will all be worth it!

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Kim April 15, 2012 at 8:50 pm

So overwhelming! Especially because we aren’t sure we’ll be returning to Portland, our home for the last eight years. Sigh.

But yes, you are right, it will definitely be worth it.

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Christine B.Osborne April 15, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Long ago,when I hitch-hiked from London to Cairo, via Tangiers and across North Africa and back via Greece, Italy and FRance – my small backpack held 1 sleeping-bag,3 cotton and 1 silk dresses, I pair long linen shorts, 1 trousers, 3 cotton shirts, 1 bikini, and one pair sandals and 1 flip-flops. I made these do, washing on a daily basis, folding the item neatly and sleeping on it so as to get some creases. The entire journey took six months and surviving on so little was truly liberating.I am writing a book about some of the adventures. Thanks.

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Kim April 15, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I cannot wait until the moment that I own just what I have on my back. Living with little truly is liberating (I have had a taste and I crave more of the feeling- clearly!). It sounds like your adventure was amazing. Let me know when your book is available to read.

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Lisa April 15, 2012 at 10:05 pm

You are living it. When you get in the plane you will take a breath of relief, at that point anything left to do doesnt matter, you’re on the way. Have fun!

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Kim April 16, 2012 at 5:09 pm

So true. I am completely looking forward to that moment :)

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Ali April 15, 2012 at 10:32 pm

I can totally relate to being a planner & a procrastinator, definitely me. I think you can still pretend it’s not happening & try to force yourself to get some stuff done. Otherwise you will have a meltdown those last few days when you realize it’s really happening & you still have 2 weeks of stuff to do.

SOOOO excited for you!!!

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Kim April 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Thanks Ali!!! My game plan for next week is to focus and attack the to-do list. No more ostrich head!

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Pamela April 15, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Congrats Kim…you are getting so close. I can’t wait to read your posts from the road.

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Kim April 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Thanks Pamela. I can’t wait to write them. FINALLY I’ll be writing about traveling. I can’t believe you guys have hung with me so long reading about all this pre-trip stuff ;)

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@TheBigBreak April 15, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Kim,
Enjoy this crazy time. It is all part of your incredible journey. I hope you can embrace the nerve, the fear, the excitement…. I can’t imagine. But, remember, in the end, it will be GREAT! Thanks for letting us live vicariously through you. I can’t wait to follow as you set off. Godspeed.

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Kim April 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Thank you :) I do remind myself that this, too, is part of the journey.

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Maddie April 16, 2012 at 1:55 am

I can completely relate, I spent the entire weekend half-heartedly trying to tackle not 1, not 2 but 3 to do lists! I love to plan and organise but similarly always seem to leave everything to the last minute.

Currently waking up every morning panicking that we leave in 7 weeks and we have no one to live in our house for a year yet, haven’t started packing up or properly planning an itinerary! I can’t wait for that feeling I’ll have when we leave the house with just the packs on our backs.

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Kim April 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm

I know, I also crave the moment that all we have is the packs on our backs. Sweet freedom! Good luck with everything… lots to do in seven weeks for sure!

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Bethany ~ twoOregonians April 16, 2012 at 3:34 am

Oh yes :) You’re in the right spot.

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Kim April 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Haha, I sense that you have also been in the same spot :)

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Sarah Somewhere April 16, 2012 at 4:24 am

Thank you for sharing your conflicted emotions in such an eloquent way, Kim. I wonder what you’ll think of this post in six months? A year? Ten years?
I wonder what you’ll think of this whole thing as an old woman? My guess is you will have so much compassion for your former self, and that living a life of truth was completely worth it, whatever the outcome. You will learn, you will fall, you will pick yourself back up. You will reach soaring heights, you will marvel in quiet stillness,you will cry. Yes, you are truly living. Woohooooo!

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Kim April 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm

I’ll probably think I was a neurotic freak (oh wait… I already think that!). Truly living- in all of its glory.

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Rhonda April 16, 2012 at 7:31 am

LOVE IT! I know how conflicted you’re feeling but just know, it will all fade away as you actually embark on this amazing journey. After all ” you’re like those people we’ve read about”!
I love the statement you overheard your co-worker say..how true it is. I read something else not long ago which was “We believe you have but one life, so live it like you mean it”. It’s easy to forget in the details that this IS our one life and even this crazy time worrying about where your stapler will find a home is part of it.
Keep living it like you mean it!

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Kim April 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Rhonda, thanks to you and Jim for being mentors and such great examples of DOING IT. XO

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Carmel April 16, 2012 at 8:23 am

We are so alike. I am a total procrastinating planner too. This time is going to fly by…

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Kim April 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm

It will… it will…

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Jolien April 16, 2012 at 10:13 am

Beautiful post. Reminds me a lot of where we were 4 months ago.

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Kim April 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm

It is so helpful to hear that others have been here and made it to THERE, you know? Thanks for your support.

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Erica April 16, 2012 at 10:24 am

Again such a beautiful post! I really like your way of writing and am so excited for you that the time is almost there to set off!
Best of luck with your “lasts”. I am sure it will not always be easy, but time will fly! Hang in there, soon you will be on your way…

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Kim April 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Thank you Erica :)

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Sunee April 16, 2012 at 10:24 am

I’m incredibly excited for you guys! I really hope good things come of this, that everything lives up to your expectations and that you’ll keep on sharing your *lived* lives with us.

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Kim April 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm

I will definitely keep sharing- the good, bad and ugly. I too hope that great things come of this. Thanks Sunee :)

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Anne April 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Looking forward to sharing some more lasts with you and Brian.
And I was just thinking…if your towels, sheets, pots and pans don’t fit in your backpack, the Community Warehouse would love to help you pass them on to newly housed, low-income Portlanders! I just got an email that they are seeking those items in particular, but also need furniture and other household items. Let me know if you want more info.
P.S. Thanks for making me famous.

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Kim April 17, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Hi Anne! I got that email too and a lot of our stuff will definitely be going to the Community Warehouse (AND they do pickups of large items like furniture for only $20- bonus!).

P.S. Expect your face to be plastered all over this blog in the coming weeks ;)

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