Season’s greetings, beautiful readers!
Here we are, t-minus 15 days until departure, and, as you can see by the numerous posts I’ve written here, I have spent hour-upon-hour writing and honing my craft… Okay, well, I intended to do a bit more writing than I have, but this level of genius requires extensive, time-consuming thought. So, with apologies to my editor and without further ado…
As with every other major event in my life, i.e., enlisting, studying for the LSAT, studying for the Bar – the exam, not the place – I have attacked my trip-planning with rigor and discipline; and, by “rigor and discipline” I mean “passive ambivalence.” Yeah, so I’m a bit behind on my writing and slightly less so on my to-do list.
I have managed, however, to at least get the ball rolling on wrapping up my affairs at work and home and I’ve even managed to pick up some gear for my trip along the way. And, thanks to last night’s Great Texas Blizzard of 2017, I’ve even had the opportunity to put some of that gear to the test in actual, legitimately cold weather and a little snow. (Note to self: neighbors do not appreciate testing long underwear when said underwear is all I’m wearing.)
So, aside from playing in the half-inch of snow we received during GTB17, what have I been doing, you ask? Quite a bit actually, so here is an impromptu rundown of what I’ve been up to, which, hopefully, anyone else who randomly decides to uproot their lives will find helpful.
Buying and bumming stuff
I’ve purchased a bitchin’ new Patagonia ski jacket, Merino wool hiking socks, long underwear, and a few other odds and ends; and it’s been fun, actually, reading up on gear and introducing my warm Texas soul to the concept of a cold Andes Mountains winter. But a friend giving me a high end, sub-zero sleeping bag, ultra-light weight hiking poles, and a one-man tent was way more fun. (Thanks, Scott!)
Getting rid of stuff
To date, I’ve sold, donated or lent a bookshelf, a plant shelf, a shelf that held other shelves, a dresser, coolers, art work, tools, stereos, shoes that I hadn’t worn for eons, a guitar, guns (this is Texas, dammit), clothes that I hadn’t worn for eons, a car (I only cried a little), a cat, a dog (okay, okay, I didn’t “give” away my pets, but they will be enjoying an extended stay with my mom and ex-wife, respectively – thanks, ladies!), old computers, pots and pans, DVDs, a blue ray player… The list goes on, and I have more to purge, but you get the idea.
The very notion that I, very literally, spent time and money storing some of this crap is absolutely ridiculous and embarrassing. Not only was I storing it, but, almost three years ago, I moved it from one domicile to another, only to store it again.
A few months ago, after I made the decision to take this trip, but well before I’d fully wrapped my head around what it was going to take to pull it off, I watched The Minimalists and subsequently stumbled upon a few podcasts and other stories about people who decided to ditch the majority of their personal belongings, and simplify their lives.
Now, make no mistake: I am not getting rid of my Sleep Number mattress, frankly, it kinda sucked selling a car that I loved and worked hard to buy, and limiting the number of items you possess to some arbitrary number seems a bit dumb. However, I see a lot of value in downsizing and decluttering, and I should probably be embarrassed that I just publicly admitted to being in love with a car (but, if you’re in the market, you should totally buy a Porsche – it ain’t just clever marketing, y’all).
The day I got home from the Marine Corps, when I was 24 years old (five years ago, I swear), I bought a cell phone; and, I have been afflicted with Ikea Nesting Syndrome ever since. Buy, buy, buy, acquire, acquire, acquire. Something had to give, eventually. Am I saying cell phones aren’t a useful and vital means of communication now, 14 years—er… I mean, five years later? No. You pretty much have to have one these days. My point is not that recently paroled—er… recently discharged veterans shouldn’t buy cell phones; my point is that acquiring things is a slippery, slippery slope and I slipped way, way down into the ravine. I mean, for crying out loud, why was I still holding on a 40-pound Gateway desktop computer that I bought in 2002!? It was probably running on Windows 2 for heaven sake.
Hopefully this trip and the obligatory separation of wheat from chaff will remind me what’s truly important in life… like family, friends, single malts and IPAs (and not necessarily in that order).
Wrapping up my life
As final and morose as it may sound to describe this as “wrapping up” my life, preparing for a months-long journey does, in some ways, feel like I’ve become the executor of my own estate. I’ve consolidated and closed bank accounts; closed utility accounts; sold off possessions; given my apartment complex notice that I’ll be vacating; given my tenants notice that they’ll be without a landlord for an indeterminate amount of time and asked them to please keep sending the rent checks on time and to please not burn the house down while I’m gone, because that would really kill my vibe; said goodbyes to family and friends; and systematically avoided any and all new responsibilities at work, while pawning off on other lawyers the responsibilities I did have. So, yeah, in a way, I’ve been wrapping up my life.
I confess that this has, at times, been a somewhat depressing process for me. Every time I check off an item from my to-do list, which is written down absolutely nowhere except the dry erase board that is my mind, I cannot help but think, “Damn. 38 years and all my life has amounted to is some bills, some possessions, and a bunch of internet usernames and passwords.”
Now, please, don’t get me wrong: I absolutely know how fortunate I am to be a white male born in the States, and I’ve done some gratifying and cool things in life. Honestly, I’m just being intentionally dramatic, because – well, I think it’s fucking funny. But, this exercise in downsizing and wrapping up has been quite eye-opening – and for the better. As cliché as it sounds, for the first time in my adult life I am excited about the idea of acquiring some something that isn’t a paycheck or a shiny (and badass) car. Instead, I’m off to acquire some real life, honest-to-god adventure. I’m excited about getting away from the day-to-day grind and to start living in the moment-to-moment. I’m excited to see what the rest of the world has in store; and, I’m excited to share it all with you.
From Austin, with love.