Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Mother Called to Say Indonesia Had Been Destroyed

Anything that can go wrong, might.

This philosphy guides the final days of preparation before selling your things, leaving your home, leaving your family, and living in small hostels on the other side of the world. That mole might be tumorous. The money you'd plan to live on isn't enough to get you through. The country you're visiting has been wrecked by a tsunami, your guesthouse washed away. The reasons to fear and postpone your plans grow, then multiply exponentially in the last 36 hours before you leave home, friends, and comfort.

The night before we left for SFO, I tore apart my backpack and triple counted the clothes, travel medicines, and adaptors we'd packed for the trip. I called the banks and checked that the money was still accessible. I bit my nails and wrote up checklists, crossed things off, then made them longer.

Now that we're here, Julie and I have to weed through our rucksacks and throw things out with a critical eye for weight and volume. First on the hit list: my denim jeans, the sixth bottle of sunscreen, the fourth pair of underwear, the second bottle of contact lens fluid. Beat with jet lag, I sat at the edge of the hostel bed, our things splayed on the floor, and severed the back cover of Juliah's journal with a leatherman. Twenty four hours into our journey, and we're still working through preparation anxiety.

But slowly, we're getting into the vibe of being here, seeing Seoul, getting lost in the crowds. Speaking Korean feels like chewing on taffy when you try asking directions to Gwandaemon. When people get you, they nod once and say "Nehhhhhhh...." By the hour, you start to feel like you really can navigate these streets, get the hotel room, or find the park by the river. Maybe tomorrow, we'll even get around to trying a cup of the boiled silkwork larvae.

Mark and Juliah

Thursday, September 17, 2009

California. California.

So we left Queens. It was sad and touching and really wonderful to get to spend some time with people before we left. Our plan was to stay here in California with my (Juliah) parents for six weeks, have a proper wedding and then leave on THE TRIP.

Even through our relaxing interlude, you can feel a deeper strain happening in the state of California. In August the state of California had a garage sale in Sacramento to raise funds by selling off cars, equipment and furniture. The very same day, the city of San Francisco held a benefit concert for itself, like one might for rare and debilitating genetic conditions or animals on the brink of extinction. Go San Francisco! Go California! It is nice to see government doing what they need to pay the bills. But what about coordination between the state and local government? What if I wanted to go to the garage sale AND the all day concert- did they have to plan the two events for the same date? Surely there is an intergovernmental committee that works these things out.

We shipped our belongings by truck from Queens. It was genius. Trucking companies with room to spare in their trucks can rent the extra space out to folks like us who want to move some stuff but really don’t need a 28 foot truck of their own. This also allows regular folks like us the opportunity to spend some time with truckers and trucks.

The good folks from Craig’s list took care of most of our larger items (Again it was nice meeting you all. Please let me know if the clock on the coffee maker continues to allude you- I can walk you through it again.) so we didn’t have much to bring. We packed our truck on a hot day in August in Queens then got on a plane. Ten days later our belongings were here in Kentfield after the truck made a shipment to San Quentin and another shipment to Trader Joes. With the help of the friendly California driver, we unpacked the truck quickly directly the street to block the street for the shortest amount of time.

The boxes, bags and random items we dropped on to the street in front of my parents house all said we were adults who had real adult lives in a far away (and now abstract) place called Queens. On the street were things like mixing bowls and a blender, personal files and rugs and work cloths, damn it. These adult possessions make no sense here on the street in front of my parents house. Here we are adult children in transition.

No matter. If I have learned anything this summer, it is how to let go of things you are not sure you are ready to let go of. You stop thinking about it and take a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other. Sing a song under your breath if you think it will help. Make sure that the song is upbeat in nature and something you can walk away to well.

Now we have 17 days until THE TRIP. Mark asked me if I was mentally ready for THE TRIP. I laughed in his face. Our trip now puts us back in the US August 18th, 2010- ten and a half months from now. It certainly hasn't hit me that I am actually planning to spend almost a year in two pairs of pants and three pairs of underwear. How could I possibly wrap my mind around that? I mean really.

1.Flag in downtown San Francisco
2.Finally a yacht that I can identify with right now
3. Mark and I at Six Flags

Mark and Juliah