Saturday, December 26

Preparations. . .

So, it's begun. The countdown, the preparations, the anxiety, anticipation, sadness, excitement. Oh, let's not lie -- the countdown began the moment the departure date was set: January 11th. Fifteen days from now, I will be flying from JFK airport in New York to Cairo. The last 12 months of my life have been spent in preparation for this trip -- financially, mentally, emotionally, academically -- and I feel as ready as I'm ever going to be. Last spring was spent delving into travel books and travel websites, collecting little bits and pieces of information in the desperate hope that it would come in handy, plotting the multiple jobs I would try to procure to earn enough money for this epic world trip. And, of course, the plan changed many, many times over the past year. At first, the destinations included South America, south and west Africa, Asia proper, and Australia and New Zealand. Alas, those will have to wait until later trips. The itinerary (as of today!) is as follows: Egypt (2 weeks), India (6-8 weeks), Nepal (?), Thailand (3 weeks), Cambodia (3 weeks), with several weeks of cushion time to go for travel time, being lost, other interests I discover (Vietnam? Israel?), or just staying a little longer in a place I connect with. I feel like I've planned ahead just enough -- I have noted the flights I'll need, names of places to stay in each locale, approximate conversions and prices for essentials, transportation in each place, and things I want to see/do/experience in each place. Why plan more?!

It's feeling so real now. Here I am, sitting alone in Salt Lake City at my father's house, drinking a glass of white wine late at night, and feeling as if this is the right time to write my first entry. I spent a lovely Christmas alone, enjoying having the house to myself, sleeping late, cooking for myself, doing travel research in my pajamas, watching movies, cleaning, taking long baths, etc., and I am really proud of how I am setting myself up for this trip. I am taking this personal, alone time to ground myself and reconnect before I leave. I think it's very fitting that I will turn 20, then it will be a New Year, then I will leave for this trip. It feels like all sorts of new beginnings and continuations and commitments :)

I am sad to leave the familiar behind -- but because of my history, pretty much anywhere can be home for me. All I need is a shirt on my back, some food in my tummy, somewhere to lay my head, and a notebook. Oh, and music, too. I've been told that this trip will change my life, broaden my horizons, shift my perspectives, etc. etc. The funny thing is that I don't believe them. I mean, I know I will grow and learn and change, but my core will not. I will only come closer to my core, if that makes any sense. I know who I am, and this trip will help me actualize it. It won't suddenly change the way I see the world -- I will learn new things and have epiphanies and meet new people, sure, but I am already myself. The world will change upon meeting me! Four months isn't really that long, right? Though these last few days have felt like forever. GOALS for this trip

I still have a pretty epic to do list before I leave. Including picking up my passport from Smith (where it should be waiting for me!), finding a bag for the trip (either using one of my dad's old bags in the basement or going to REI or somewhere and purchasing a cheap, durable new one), making a final packing list, buying new socks, buying a camera, finishing compiling my list of addresses for letters and postcards (send me yours if you want one!), picking up tickets for other airlines from dad, fasting (I plan to fast for at least three days at some point before I leave -- maybe during my time at 'home' in Kirkland), and final errands at Smith. Hoo boy. It'll all work out, I suppose.

Hmm...goals for the trip should be in this post too, probably. Though I can't say I've really thought about that -- I feel that solid goals wouldn't be conducive to the purpose of this trip, which is aimless, thoughtful, deep travel, and really getting to know the places I visit. However, that being said, my goals are sort of the following: to be healthy (including staying hydrated, not getting sick, eating balanced meals and staying vegetarian, plenty of exercise and yoga, stretching and meditating every morning/every night), connection (including being nonjudgmental, being honest about myself and others, looking past what I see and connecting with the truth), art (looking for all kinds of art and goodness wherever I go, seeing opportunities and inspiration for my own creativity in everything), and peace (looking creatively, thoughtfully, and deeply about opportunities for nonviolence and peaceful solutions -- this is kind of a precursor for my future career, planning peace and actualizing it, and seeing myself in the capacity as a peacemaker or mediator of sorts). Hmph. This all sounds like a bunch of unintelligible rubbish, but rereading later will probably help clarify. I suppose that's what most of these posts will be like -- the lovely ramblings in my head just plain laid out in text! Get used to it :)

Heading to bed now. Tomorrow will be a day of plotting my birthday, doing some post-Christmas shopping to hit up the sales (for others and for myself), cooking, getting some fresh air and exercise, and creating something. Those are my goals for tomorrow. And a hot shower, of course. Who knows how many of those I have left :)

Good night, all. NMW.