Growing up a military brat where there was often change, I learned to be adaptable and flexible. The last eighteen years though, I’ve resided in one location, instead of moving every four years like in my childhood. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to know that change is a part of life, but knowing that doesn’t make it any less harder to endure. I thought I’d grown immune to the feelings of homesickness and longing I kept hearing many others in our group talking about, but as the time grew nearer I realized I wasn’t.
We went out to Los Angeles eighteen years ago for college and stayed (the longest location I’ve ever lived in my life) and I found it hard to leave. At the beginning, I was so excited about the new adventure I was about to embark on I didn’t think about all that I was leaving behind. Although our immediate family lives on the east coast we’re all very close and speak everyday, often multiple times a day and now that’s going to change. I think about the friend’s I’ve had since college, that have now become my family and it makes me sad that we won’t be getting together for impromptu lunches or hanging out. Yes, some people say it’s only a year, but a lot can happen in a year … change. You find yourself saying I hope they don’t forget me while I’m gone, all the while they’re probably thinking the same thing. I’m planning for a lot of Skype and iChat sessions so I can maintain these priceless relationships.
Besides being saddened over the loss of my everyday communication with my friends and family, there was still an avalanche of stuff to do. All my friends kept telling me that they seemed more excited about my trip than I did. It wasn’t that I wasn’t excited, believe me I was; its just there is so much to do to transition to living overseas and becoming a digital nomad. You’re not just going away on vacation. It’s a total life change. It wasn’t just giving away stuff and downsizing, which is stressful enough in itself, but my career was not conducive to working remotely so I had to change to another career to fit this lifestyle, which can be fun, but that can include learning new skills and/or going back to school or taking classes to help you be more marketable in the new field you choose. Then there is all the paperwork, such as creating a living will, a medical directive in case something happens to you, do you have all the vaccinations and immunizations you need, travel insurance, international health insurance, what bills or subscriptions do I need to end, what kind of international calling plan and data are available on my cell phone, will Netflix work overseas (yes, this is a real problem to me :P), and the list goes on. It can all be very overwhelming and mess with the daydreams of the fantasy life you’ve concocted in your head that excludes all the red tape, which is why my excitement has been muted at times. The reality of what this life change entails has been smacking me around the last couple of months.
After hearing my diatribe and woes about the stress of preparing for this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime journey, I’m sure many of you are saying, ‘Why go, if you have to go through all of that?’ Well, I will tell you, like I’m sure many before me have said, anything worth having takes hard work and getting to have this dream year is no exception. I love traveling, seeing the world and experiencing new cultures. I wouldn’t trade the experience of this next year for anything. I’m sure this amazing journey will have joys and pains and ups and downs, and I’ll take it all. You have to be willing to take the good with the bad with anything in life, so you appreciate the good moments even more. I wanted to share the whole process and not just the exciting stuff. You need to understand that this isn’t a year long vacation. It will be my lifestyle for the next year to travel the world, but I still have to eat and pay bills, which means I have to work.
We’ve been in Virginia, for the last three weeks, visiting our family. Tonight, I get on a plane headed for New York to meet up with the rest of the group before we leave for Prague on Sunday, and I find myself a little emotional. Even after the many years of living away from my family I’m sad to leave them, because I know with the time difference, communication won’t be as frequent as we all would like. Nevertheless, I feel my excitement overtaking my fear and anxiety that I’ve forgotten something. At this point it’s going to be, what it’s going to be. Thankfully, in this beautiful day and age of technology and the internet anything or anyone I’m missing or whatever I forgot to do should only be a click away.
You know I always have to include some music. I haven't had time to put together a full playlist, but right now these two songs have been playing on a loop in my head ... 'I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again ...'
Leaving on a Jet Plane - cover of the Chantal Kreviazuk
Everyone Says Hi - cover of the David Bowie song by Fyfe Monroe (heard this version on the TV show 'Defiance')
Well, please stay tuned for our crazy adventures of this next year. The next time you hear from us, we’ll be in Prague.