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the finish line
Thank Christ, i made it. Well, i didn't really make it yet. It's Friday afternoon before i move and i haven't planned out mail redirection (i don't even know if you can do it in Germany), i still have a mattress and a rug and two desk lamps that are unaccounted for, and i am not entirely sure if the weather is warm enough that i can wash and dry all the blankets and sheets i want to donate before i need to leave the house. Also i still need to get all the software off the computer i am giving away. But my vaccinations are done, my passport is sitting at the Chinese visa office hopefully getting stamped, i have a hotel booked for the first half of next week, my work is all handed over, and most importantly the going away party is over.

God i hate parties. I love partying, but i hate parties. Like, events that are planned beforehand, that you're obliged to show up for, and people get drunk and listen to God-awful pop music and try to socialize because that's what you are supposed to do even though the time and the place and the music and the company is not what anyone would choose if they had their own choice. I can't relax - i can't "party" - if other people are expecting something of me. That's why i like going clubbing alone and randomly dropping into dive bars - so i can enjoy myself in peace, and on my own terms.

But, you know, i guess going away parties aren't really for the person going away, they are for the people being left behind. So i grit my teeth and bore it, and it wasn't too bad. Unfortunately my stomach has been a wreck this week. Perhaps partly because i haven't had any fresh fruit or veg since Saturday and have basically subsisted off of canned beans, rice cakes and whatever takeout food was fast and vegan. Perhaps mostly because i had been holding back all the stress and exhaustion and my body hit the brick wall around 5pm Thursday. Either way, i could hardly eat, i definitely couldn't drink any alcohol, my face was green and i was a shy, quivering puddle in the corner all night. My colleagues have rarely seen me so anxious and vulnerable, because when i am at work i put on my Boss Face and handle shit like a boss. Last day? Yeah, not so much.

They also totally blew me away with their thoughtfulness and generosity. They all know i am going traveling and they all know i am a social justice warrior and a champion of simple living, so basically i'm about the worst person in the world to buy gifts for. All my previous colleagues just bought me a ton of alcohol when i left. These guys got me a Kindle, a solar panel charger (!) and a Leatherman. Like, for realz, that is probably the most on-point gifts anyone has ever gotten me ever. My last Kindle died 4-5 years ago, and i have been loathe to buy another one because it felt wasteful - even though i love reading. Solar panel charger - green, geeky and useful when you are traveling to sunny places around the world. And a Leatherman, well, it's always handy to have a bottle opener and a knife and a pliers on your belt. I don't want to look up how much it all cost, because i fear they all gave too much. But it is so damn sweet i can't even. I was speechless.

So today even though it would probably be a prime time to call my bank and figure out mail redirection i am going to sit at home and eat fruit and drink coffee and wash blankets and maybe play a video game or something. I need the downtime, i need to get back to normal, i need a break after going hard right till the very last day. I kept the password to my work email so i am quietly checking in to make sure nothing explodes, and i will probably have a Skype date with R tonight since it might be our last chance for a while, but otherwise it's me-time. And next week i am on the road. It probably all seems impulsive and crazy, but for me it feels like i am just a few days away from finally being free again.

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Please update whenever you can while you're travelling; I want to hear about your adventures.

Certainly! The first two posts are in. It is so much more relaxing writing when I am on holiday...

Yeah, I've been following along. Loving the photos and your style of commentary.

Our lives are so different, yet - oddly - you speak and live in such a way that I relate. In particular, through your posts, I'm seeing my own relationship to "stuff" as I haven't before.

Me? I'm attached to things in an almost extreme way -- more than the average person -- in that my husband and I own two houses. It all came to roost when our house was damaged by the hurricane. In a way few truly "get" -- I now see how I'm tied to (imprisoned by) the stuff in a way I never intended nor realized. My relationship to "stuff" defines me way too much, and has altered how I relate to friends, family and how I view my place in the world at large.

I don't want to be quite as "free" as you do, as I do love "home base", and to be surrounded by a certain amount of beloved familiar things. It is comforting to know I have a place of my own where I can return. However ... the hurricane - in addition to so many of your posts - have made me see I've taken my desire for a "home base" over the top. Cleaning out my mom's house after her death was another eye opener.

I'm not sure what the upshot of all this thought will be because I am a person of contradiction, too.

I hope you'll be able to update - at least periodically - while you're traveling. I'm glad we're LJ friends. :)

I think it's really fascinating how very attached people get to their things. I do understand it - I think it's very human. Sometimes I feel like I am broken somehow because I do not have that connection, but then I consider that there were also many nomadic cultures who just carried their homes with them and followed the seasons and the food. And there were always pilgrims and explorers too. So I guess there is room for all sorts.

I am not sure if I wrote about this here, but I overheard something recently about people who cleaned out houses after an estate sale. I can't remember whether I read it or saw it on TV or what, but the people were saying that they were just smash all the stuff left over for kicks. That lifetime of ornaments and mementos, it's just meaningless trash to the people who have to get rid of it. In some ways it's sad, but it is also a sobering reminder. Stuff can be terribly important, but it - too - will pass.

I guess the most important things are immaterial - how people remember you, if you touched someone or changed lives for the better.

your colleagues really stepped up in the going-away-gift department. a solar panel charger sounds super useful.

safe travels! i too want to know what you're up to when you're on the road.

IKR? I felt really guilty at how much they must've spent. I hope I paid it forward, though, giving all of my stuff away. Travel journaling is locked and loaded btw :) It's nice to finally have time to just write.

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