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Don't Stop Believin'

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The regular TV season is over -- although there are temptations to find cable during our roadtrip -- so I think it's time to start our own adventures. These begin with selling several of our possessions, renting out others and putting the rest into storage, whether in Long Island or Michigan or Texas.

When people ask me what made me decide to spend a year traveling, there's not a single answer. Part of the motivation is a kind of magical thinking. If I go away for a year, I'll come back and everything will be better: the job market, the housing market, the political situation. And even as a non-magical prediction, I'm fairly certain that things will be different, even if not what I would consider better, when we return.

So in one way I'm trying to hurry time, or have it exert a change, but in another way I'm pushing back against time.

The idea of traveling for a year really solidified a couple months ago after we had dinner
with friends who have young children. They told us that now was the
time to do what we wanted to do that wouldn't be possible for a long time once we had kids.*

I have one of those birthdays coming up that is supposed to make one
stop and think about things done, and more importantly, things left
undone. Unlike Tony, I've never lived abroad for more than a month at a
time, nor have I done much unstructured traveling. Our round-the-world
itinerary was shaped significantly by my realization that I'd never been
south of the equator, never been anywhere on the African continent,
never even been to a developing country other than India and Mexico.


The opportunity to travel while still relatively young -- and yes, unburdened -- also impressed upon me the urgency of getting to the sights I wanted to
see while it is still possible to do so. Obviously there's a paradox in
hurrying to be a tourist in the "last great places" that are sustaining
damage from tourism; the Galapagos Islands are a particularly strong
example of this. And yet I find them irresistible and inescapable, those lists of places; someone spontaneously gave us a copy of 1000 Places To See Before You Die as a wedding gift, and even Smithsonian Magazine succumbed to a trend it identified.

(For the record, I've visited the Taj Mahal, Louvre, Uffizi Gallery, Grand Canyon, Parthenon and Venice with family; Tony and I went to the Zen Garden of Kyoto during our honeymoon; and we plan to see the Galapagos, Machu Picchu, the Amazon rainforest, Iguazu Falls, the Great Barrier Reef, Angkor Wat, the Pyramids of Giza,  the Serengeti and Mt. Kilimanjaro.)

So despite this frenetic last week of preparations, my heart lifts every time I page through a guidebook or even contemplate taking my malaria pills. We are going there, and then back again, and the Took in me can hardly wait.

* Obligatory note for far-future Googling: their children are adorable and
adored, as I'm sure any offspring of ours will be, so this is not to
say "Well, that was your mother/ And that was your father/ Before you
was born dude/ When life was great/ You are the burden of my generation/
I sure do love you/ But let's get that straight."

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Wow! I am so glad you are sharing this with us! I can't wait to hear all about your journeys!

This same spirit ("The opportunity to travel while still relatively young -- and yes, unburdened -- also impressed upon me the urgency of getting to the sights I wanted to see while it is still possible to do so.") is what motivated me to run off to Prague back in '04. Of course, while my naivete and budget limited the scope of the adventure I'd dreamt of, I am still glad I took the opportunity while it was available and while the time was right. Things were different when I got back, and for the most part, better, but I found myself alone at each lovely vista, wishing for a loved one beside me to say "Look at that!" or to tell me their thoughts on the culture, food, and people of the places I went to see.

You have the added joy of being able to share this experience with your love, and being able to see the new worlds you encounter through each others' eyes. The journey may, at times seem all about exploring the unknown, far-flung reaches of this amazing world, but I daresay it will most likely and most often be all about plumbing the depths and testing the breadth of your relationship with each other.

Thank you for daring to dream, for doing us the honor of your blogs, and for making this journey happen. :)

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