48 hours from now, I’ll be in a rental car, family in tow, all our possessions for four months crammed into a handful of 40-pound suitcases, headed for Seattle, where we’ll board a plane headed for the land of Vikings and hot springs.
Today, we’re finishing packing, moving the rest of our lives into our 10×20 storage unit, and filling up the empty spaces with all the uncertainty that will fit.
Yesterday, I said my goodbyes to colleagues at work, picked up the last of my teaching materials from campus, and consoled my inconsolable children, who fear leaving behind friends, dogs, family members, and the only life they’ve ever known.
There’s a palpable fear in the air of our home, what with not knowing what’s in store for us over the next 123 days, but as the clock ticks by, it’s slowly being diluted by an electric excitement and the promise of stories we’ll be telling for decades to come. Knowing that, someday, when I’m long gone, my children will regale someone they just met over a drink by the fire with tales of that time they wept at the gates of Auschwitz or that day when they rode a camel through the Sahara outside Marrakesh and slept in a Berber tent under a clear night sky, fills my heart with an indescribable joy.
I think about the students I’ll meet, get to know, grow to love, and cry over having to say goodbye two days before Christmas. I think about the potential for laughter and tears, our impending conflicts and forgiveness, and the melding of our collective story as it unfolds.
I also ponder the unknown, like the question of where we’ll live when we return or how we’ll handle the day-to-day challenges like seasickness, gastrointestinal distress, homesickness, or the anxiety of the open sea in front of us. But, then I think of the starry sky at night in the middle of the Atlantic, the sunsets on an open horizon, the smell of salt air, and not having to cook for 123 days, and I smile.
The most common question asked of us over the last few weeks is understandably, “Are you ready?” To each and every iteration of this conversation, the answer up until now has been no. But here, two days out, I suddenly feel at peace and ready for the adventure lying in wait.
Let’s do this.