Written on July 26th 8pm EST
Today was our last day in Canada for a long time. Up too late with friends last night, we were still up early this morning to tackle our embarrassingly long last minute “to do” lists. Departure day.
Then Eli started throwing up. Murphy’s Law?? Linds and I would tag team getting a task done and making sure Eli got as much puke in the bowl as possible then sanitizing and returning to the lists before the next round of retching.
The other boys wondered if the trip would be canceled. Ha! Fortunately, it only lasted a few hours and the couch quarantine seemed to contain the germs (addendum: Jake got extremely pale and nauseous at the end of the flight and we thought we were doomed, but he came around after a few hours – phew!!). We were late getting away, and we left my in-laws’ house a mess (sorry!), but it has begun.
The big adventure. The epic dream. The insane upheaval of a perfectly good and normal family life. The great big gamble that there might be something more for us.
I am literally writing this in seat 20C on flight WW214 from Toronto to Keflavik, Iceland. At this very second, the boys are experiencing their first bout of turbulence. Jake’s a little nervous, his head on my shoulder and holding my arm. Eli who was most afraid of flying prior to the flight is giggling with excitement. Owen and Ben are taking it in stride.
After days of barely controlled chaos, Linds and I are finally starting to relax. The trip has really started now. For better or worse, we have what is in our backpacks, and that’s all. There has been so much that has needed doing, managing, attention in the last few weeks. In between tasks we really appreciated the chances we had to connect with people we care about. I didn’t anticipate it, but leaving is also an opportunity to tell special people how we feel about them, and that has made the winding down of our life in Ontario so wonderful.
Linds and I have been nearly absent parents this past week as we scrambled to check off the items on our seemingly endless lists. Selling an enormous amount of our personal possessions (over 300 in total!) was a win. Feeling pretty good about our new minimalist selves and only renting a 16 foot moving van – which is marketed for a one bedroom apartment! – to take the rest into “storage” (my parents’ basement) was . . . a fail. Thanks to the help of my father in law, a great friend, and a good samaritan neighbour, we packed every inch of that thing, but it still wasn’t enough! Two more minivans-full got the job done. Ugh. In spite of our best efforts, we have to admit, we are fake minimalists.
But the house did get cleared out and cleaned up (again, thanks to tons of help from wonderful friends and family). There is already a new family living there and hopefully enjoying all the work we put into it over the years. Of course, in exchange, the money from the sale of the house is a big part of how we are able to afford this trip. Not to mention both vehicles are now being enjoyed by the families of two of Lindsay’s cousins. Amazing how things come together.
What does it feel like to be leaving it all behind? For myself, I feel . . . lighter. It’s like being on a roller coaster at night just as it crests the top after the first big climb. We haven’t gained much speed yet, but there are butterflies in our stomachs and there are twists and turns ahead. The fact that we can’t see the track clearly means there is some uncertainty. But we are excited and pretty confident that we will be able to overcome the inevitable challenges and make this the start of something amazing.
We have no template for this, no frame of reference except for the couples and families we follow online. This is not a vacation. It’s a new kind of life. One that we have no personal experience with. It’s a little surreal. I struggle to find the words to describe the feeling. Being free of the weight of jobs, a house, two cars, a boat, school stuff, memberships, licensing, insurance, etc. etc. etc. feels like a vacation in itself.
And yet, we’re not travellers. Not yet. We don’t really know what it’s like. All we have are our ideas. Lots of hopes. Some fears. Very few expectations. We will make mistakes. We will have grumpy days. It won’t all be fun. But we will be together. Uninsulated and unbuffered by work, school, activities, and all the mundane BS that made up 90% of our life before. And we will learn together. We’ll learn from the things we see, the foods we eat, and the people we meet. Family life, raw and amplified by world travel.
Two hours in and the novelty of flying isn’t wearing off for most of us. Owen is fiddling with the the lights and air vents. Jake is feigning panic at every bit of turbulence. Ben, incredibly, has been sleeping on his fold-down tray. Eli is drawing pictures of airplanes to show the flight attendants. Lindsay, who has been running on 5 hours of nightly sleep for days is finally my sleeping beauty.
I know I should try to do the same since we are renting a car tomorrow and I am the driver. It’s just hard to rest at the top of the roller coaster. Time to try. Good night from 35 000 feet!