Well, today's the day! I guess each day of the last three weeks has been one of those days. But today I head out for Lima!
This past weekend Liz and I had a lovely, albeit bittersweet time. Rather than sharing all the mushy details, and believe me, they are saccharine, I actually am struck by how much the last few days, and weeks, have been about people I love giving me a proper send-off before I enter my own wilderness. From Alex and Katherine taking me to drinks and dinner, to Enshalla and the gang at FutureBrand throwing a potato-themed party, to my mom showing me how to roll pants with military efficiency, to Liz and I creating our own traveler's liturgy, to my dad and stepmom and the whole Hackworth gang fueling me up on the way to Miami, my family, friends, and lover have showered me with love.
Now I've read my fair share of travel blogs before I left to know what to pack, where to stay, how to not get lost in Patagonia, how to get insurance, etc. But in all the excitement -- I know, insurance premiums get me hot too -- I don't think I read much about how to prepare yourself to be away from loved ones for so long, or even how to say goodbye.
Comment te dire adieu? C'est vrai.
Françoise Hardy's haunting rendition of "Comment te dire adieu?" (How do I say goodbye?) has long been a favorite of mine -- her hauntingly sweet voice captures the confusing longing of being left behind.
But, the original lyrics in "It Hurts To Say Goodbye" as written by Arnold Garland fit this moment for me much better.
Let me know the thrill of your embrace,
Memories that time can not erase,
WhIle I kiss the teardrops from your face,
It hurts to say goodbye.
Wherever you are,
You will always be near to me,
Wherever I go,
You'll be here in my heart.
Till the sun comes shining through again,
Till we see a sky of blue again,
Till I'm back with you, my love, till then,
It hurts to say goodbye.
So then, how do you properly say goodbye before your long journey into whatever your wilderness is?
1. See as many of your friends as possible, but don't drive yourself mad.
In New York, everyone is a subway ride away. But schedules conflict, trains suddenly redirect, and there's always one more thing you need to do at Chinese Consulate at the end of the world, aka 42nd street and 12th Avenue. I made sure to see a few friends before leaving, particularly those whose traveling wisdom would save me from numerous errors. While I didn't get to see everyone (Sarah, Courtney, I <3 you) I still got the jolt of love, free food and the 'I'm-so-jealous'-courage-bolstering encourage friends are good for. And I saw them before I left, but not the days right before. I saved that time for my lover and my parents. That's part of the next recommendation.
2. Center yourself in the days right before you take off.
Now listen, you do you on this one. But I find the time to center yourself before leaving is incredibly important. Liz and I holed ourselves into her apartment for the weekend right before I left for Miami. Yes, I still had to pack a tad, and she had to wrap some gifts. With the chores done, we then spent time tending to each other's heart, courage, and soul. We watched our favorite movie, ate our favorite scramble (eggs + tatter-tots of course), and said blessings for each other for the journey ahead.
In whatever your practice is, say blessings for the road and ask for someone else to do so too. Could be your parent, your spouse, your best friend, or your spiritual leader, whomever, just make sure you have someone to wish you well and invite the universe to watch over you. For us, we read a little from Luke 3-4, when after Jesus's 30th birthday he turns towards the wilderness and marches in. As my own sabbatical was approved just after my 30th birthday, this seemed fitting. Then we lit sage and said blessings over the apartment, each other, and my travels.
3. Add a buffer if you're leaving a lover.
I left New York to head to Florida where my dad and stepmom would send me off. People tell me I'm just like my dad (stubborn as hell? wanderlust? penchant for weirdness?) so seeing him before I left mattered so much. And sharing this journey with him -- he's joining me for China -- will be a memory I cherish forever.
The other joy in seeing my dad and stepmom right before I left? I had a little buffer between the bittersweet takeoff in NYC and the nervous excitement of heading to Lima. Nancy made me my favorite chicken-and-cheese casserole and deviled eggs. Tina and Nadine made me my favorite French Vanilla flavored coffee. And Dad gave me travel tips and bear hugs. Yes I still teared up a little at the airport, but I felt so loved and excited I wiped the tears away and headed straight towards the Admirals Lounge for a beer and respite. (Listen, I might be staying at hostels, but I still know how to travel in style.)
4. Bring a little friend with you.
This is admittedly a little childish, but I really wanted a stuffed animal to come with me. After much searching, Liz found me the most adorable little bunny who fits into my jacket pocket. Yes, I know, I'm 30 and I basically have a stuffed animal tucked under my arm when I sleep and in my jacket pocket when I walk around. But you know what, I don't care. The little bunny is just too damn cute and soft and comforting. Plus, now I have a great model and funny ice breaker. And a boarding pass holder.