Although I'm still at work (8 days and counting!), I think my journey began with saying farewell to Carmen. Carmen came to us about a year ago from a coworker who could no longer keep her. Chris protested saying, "What are we going to do with two cats?!? How are we going to find them homes when we travel?" I told him it wouldn't be a problem, I even called my sister and asked if she would take two cats - who of course said yes even though she was in Chicago at the time, thinking about moving, and has since lived in Seattle, Boise and now Las Cruces- with a large golden retriever I might add.
So guess what? Chris was right (yes Chris you were right). We couldn't find homes for both of them.
And for me that is when the trip really began.
Up until then, our trip was just something in the far off future. Something I made lots of plans for, but in that something, everything worked out perfectly. The cats magically found homes, we had just enough money and what to do with the house would suddenly become clear.
But really, who wants a cat you are going to take back in a year? The sister option involved a couple of flights and the prospect of living with a dog, which I didn't think would make Carmen happy. So we decided to give her a way. I found a her very nice family near Olympia. One Saturday, Chris and I packed Carmen and all her stuff in the car and drove the hour and a half down I-5. Carmen was not happy about the car ride, and when we get to her new home, she further emphasized her displeasure with the move (and by our inference, with us) by promptly hiding behind shelf in the laundry room where no one could reach her.
We left her there, feeling good about the family we left her with, but not with ourselves for giving up on Carmen. I have to admit, Carmen annoyed the shit of me sometimes. But after all the moving around she had done, I figured a 13 year old cat had a right to spend her last years in a comfortable and quiet place. I felt obliged to provide her that. And because I am an overly guilty person, I feel like I personally failed her.
So I cried like a big baby.
Over a cat.
Halfway back to Seattle (still crying) I realized it wasn't just about the cat. Our plan suddenly wasn't as simple and idyllic as it seemed. Everything wasn't just working out. And it wasn't all just fun and games and "Oh la di dah, I'm taking a huge vacation." The reality of leaving my job, my house and my friends set in. I like making change, and I love travelling. But I didn't realize how much of a secure nest I had made for myself in the four years since moving to Seattle. I've been planning this trip since I started working here. I spent a good two years hating Seattle and trying to find another place to live. I've been trying to change my career since I've left college. And now, when I'm finally about to do it, I want to crawl back into my bed and say, "No it's safer here, I may not be completely happy, but at least I know where I am."
Over the following two weeks, Chris moved down to Ashford, all our belongings disappeared into the depths of the attic and the garage, and finally, strangers moved into our house. Haley and I moved into the basement of a friend's place down the street. Now I am getting ready to leave for Alaska and move Haley to her home for the next year. I only get to see Chris every other weekend or so. I'm still excited and looking forward to the trip, but it's interesting, as cliche as it is, that you don't realize what you have until you try to leave it.
While I may not be exactly in the place I want to be right now, I'm very blessed to have had all the experiences I have had up until now. So leaving is a mixed bag. I spend a lot of time dwelling on what I don't have. On this trip I can carry with me what I know I do have. For all the places I'm going to see things I'm going to experience, that one thing makes this whole trip worth it.
"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware."