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The Last-Minute Roller Coaster Ride

For a long time now I’ve been planning to write a post describing my last few days in the US and the emotions I was sure I’d be feeling. This is not the post I planned to write, because my feelings right now are not nearly as straightforward as I imaged in all the months leading up to this.

Honestly, at this point, I thought I’d be more scared.

Last time I took off across the ocean, to live in England, I remember being completely petrified in the days leading up to my departure. Everything was so new, scary and unknown, but in the end it ended up more perfect than I could have imagined. So I was prepared to deal with scared, to counter it with the knowledge that once I was moving everything would fall into place.

Crossing the November Sky

Creative Commons License photo credit: lrargerich

But I’m not scared. Instead I have a whole new set of emotions that I wasn’t expecting and can’t quite quantify. It’s a bizarre mix of stress, excitement, sadness and something else I can’t quite put my finger on. I was prepared for simple fear, but this trip is more epic, more open-ended and as such my emotions are that much more complicated.

Stress, is probably my dominant descriptor right now. Everyday I run around half crazy trying to cross everything off my monster to-do list. I know I won’t get everything done, but I am definitely feeling the pressure to get myself in the best possible situation before I leave.  It’s really frustrating: I’d pictured myself happy and relaxed with my week off from work, but instead I feel like a character from Sesame Street, the CrankyPants Monster (I just invented him).

Or did I?

I also feel kind of sad, when I think of what I’m leaving behind. I will miss a whole lot while I’m gone: my friends, my family, my cuddly cat. I will miss sleeping in and waking up in my own bed, and I will miss Sunday afternoon Target trips with my mom. I know it’s time for me to move on from DC, but there’s still a natural melancholy to letting go.

I’m not just moping around though. There’s excitement in there too obviously. I’m going to Japan! In like, two days! There is so much awesomeness in store for me, like a shiny present, and I can hardly wait to unwrap it.

Then there’s something else that’s bugging me, some cross of happiness and anxiety and restlessness. Some urgent feeling that makes it almost impossible to sit still even just a few more days. It’s frustrating honestly, because shouldn’t I be super happy right now?  I can’t wait to leave just so I can morph back into a normal human being.

This isn’t the cheeriest post I know, and I’m sure in a couple of days I will be in Tokyo nothing but smiles. What I have to keep reminding myself, what really matters, is that I want this. Very badly. This is what I’ve been preparing for and I am ready.

Oh boy am I ready.

17 Responses to The Last-Minute Roller Coaster Ride

  1. Daniel September 19, 2010 at 8:55 AM #

    This sounds a lot like standard restless anticipation. The scope of what you’re doing just isn’t something your able to fully comprehend right now, if you could you’d just be excited.

    The day before our wedding my wife and I went to see a movie, not because we were excited to see it or anything like that, but just to kill time doing something that would take our minds off something that had been planned for so long and was so close to coming to fruition.

    Good luck on your adventures and travel safe, you’re almost there!

    • Steph September 20, 2010 at 3:18 PM #

      Definitely. The scope of the trip is so big that I can’t really feel anything about it, so instead I’m getting freaked out about the immediate: ie, packing.

  2. Marsha September 19, 2010 at 9:42 AM #

    Travel always seems to elicit a strange melange of emotions that disappear the moment you arrive at your destination. In spite of all of the uncertainties, that’s the one thing you can be sure of.

    Best of luck on your travels! Looking forward to your first post from abroad!

  3. ayngelina September 19, 2010 at 5:04 PM #

    Completely understandable that you would have all of these mixed emotions. I was a basketcase before I left and didn’t relax until I was on the plane.

  4. Jenny September 19, 2010 at 7:16 PM #

    The emotions I felt on my first trip and second trip are much different than what I’m feeling on my upcoming trip which is more open-ended. The others were well defined when I was leaving, where I was going, and when I was coming home. This time selling everything, giving up my dogs, leaving my friends behind… it’s still 3+ months from my departure date and the complex range of emotions I’m feeling are well… complicated. I was never scared on my other trips, but this one scares me… maybe because all my eggs are in one basket and if it fails, well I have nothing to come back to. I recently wrote about it on my blog linked below.

  5. Emily September 19, 2010 at 8:21 PM #

    Can’t believe it’s really here!!! You’ve been so patient. I’m not surprised you’re feeling an odd mix of emotions–you’re about to do something so lifechanging, full of so many new experiences! It’s hard to emotionally prepare for. I know I would feel the same way. Can’t wait to hear about your journey!

  6. Gray September 20, 2010 at 12:18 PM #

    I think what you’re experiencing is very normal. There should be a mixture of emotions when faced with making such a huge life change. Just go with it, feel what you feel, and I think it will probably serve you well.

  7. Keith September 20, 2010 at 1:44 PM #

    I can relate. The pre-trip days are always such a crazy cocktail of emotions. The transition from old to new is fraught with challenges, but it will turn out great. Enjoy every last second!

  8. Washi September 20, 2010 at 4:10 PM #

    Best of luck Steph! I can’t wait to read all about it 🙂

  9. Audrey September 20, 2010 at 5:26 PM #

    It’s not like you’re leaving for a 2-week vacation, you’ve got some major life changes happening here. it’s natural to go through everything you’re feeling. But, I find that once I’m on the airplane calm takes over. All those things that didn’t get done on the to do list don’t seem to really have the same importance anymore. Enjoy your last days with family and friends and enjoy the ride!

    • Steph September 21, 2010 at 11:55 AM #

      Thanks Audrey! It’s always comforting to hear from people who have been though this. I do think i’ll be better once I’m on the plane.

  10. Sarah September 20, 2010 at 7:52 PM #

    I can totally relate to the restless anticipation. The days leading up to my trip seemed to move at this completely contradictory warped speed of molasses. There weren’t enough hours in the day to cross off the bullets on my massive To Do list, but those same hours couldn’t move any more slowly leading up to my early morning flight last January.

    Take time to feel that crazy mixing bowl of emotions out; each emotion’s definitely distinct and will help you realize the greatness of what you’re about to do. I’m jealous and ready for my Round 2! 🙂

    • Steph September 21, 2010 at 11:56 AM #

      Exactly! Time is both moving absurdely fast and painfully slowly. It’s very confusing. Sure it will work out though.

  11. ehalvey September 20, 2010 at 8:31 PM #

    Given the number of times I’ve moved in general, I can completely relate to that goody bag of emotions. The good thing about time dragging is that it does force you to deal with the present before your awesome adventure.

    I’m just super jealous 🙂 I’m trying to make Christmas in Ireland sound as epic.

    • Steph September 21, 2010 at 11:57 AM #

      Yeah, it reminds me a little bit of going away to college- the emotions that have to be dealt with.

      And Christmas in Ireland sounds pretty awesome to me!

  12. Candice September 22, 2010 at 11:14 PM #

    Yeah, pretty much the same emotions I went through when leaving Newfoundland. 🙂 I was consumed by sadness about being away from the city I love more than anything in the world, and all my friends…but as soon as I hit the road, things fell together. It’ll be the same for you, but I’m sure you already knew that, Ms. Adventurer!

    • Steph September 27, 2010 at 9:58 AM #

      past experience tells me this will be the case- i hope!

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