Insomnia and anticipation as reality sinks in

by Kim on May 2, 2012 · 47 comments


RTW Countdown: 2.5 weeks until departure

Status: Anxious, excited, busy


We leave home in less than twenty days. I have six days of work left, Brian has twelve. The month is flying by in a rush of happy hours and farewell dinners. Each one is sad and sweet.

A new development: I’m usually a good sleeper, but in the past week I’ve begun tossing and turning with insomnia, fighting a restlessness that springs up as soon as we turn the lights off and the room falls quiet.

Lying in bed, my mind loops with anticipatory scenes of the next few years. I see Brian and I, two weeks into the future, driving away from Portland in the early morning. I see our car packed to the brim, the sun rising over the Columbia River Gorge as we move eastbound. I see it. It’s so close now.

Or, I see us at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, cooling off in the Colorado River.  I see us trekking through the Andes on our way to Machu Picchu. I see us hunched over the computer at a coffee shop in Buenos Aires, searching for cheap flights to India.  I see us camping in Iceland, eating street food in Thailand, exploring temples in Cambodia, trekking in Nepal. And I see the dirty beds, the long bus rides, the street dogs, the smog, the litter. I see it like I know it but I don’t know it yet.

For so many years this trip was just a grand idea. But as we pack up our stuff and say our final goodbyes it’s sinking in that this is real.  This is happening. The dream that flickered always in the future, that distant goal we inched imperceptibly closer to day by day, is here. I can reach out and touch it now.

In the past year or so we’ve heard dozens of stories about other people’s travels and we’ve lapped up every one of them. But we know that the experiences we will have will be uniquely our own. The stories and tips and suggestions help us to feel prepared, but you cannot truly prepare for something like this. The guts of the journey, the meat of it, live in the things that you do not plan for. I have found this to be true already.

If you’d asked me six months ago how I would feel today, a little over two weeks until departure, I’d have told you that I’d be jumping up and down with excitement. But the truth is that Brian and I are both a little subdued. I find myself struggling to put words to what I am feeling. This is so unlike anything we’ve done before, I simply can’t place it on my spectrum of prior experiences.

Perhaps the best way to describe it is not as an emotion but as a sense of heightened awareness. I feel alert and alive, like I am seeing things, everyday things, quite vividly. I think this happens when you know you will be leaving something for awhile. It happens at the end.

I’m excited too, of course, sometimes overwhelmingly so.  But, for the most part, being so close to this dream just feels completely surreal.

Once again I’m not sure how to close this post, so I’ll leave you with some images of our preparations over the last few weeks.

A card from dear friends

Creepy lineup of VISA photos

Applying for an International Drivers License

Shredding five years of documents

Errr… how will we fit these in our packs?