I’ve been slowly freaking out about the whole New Zealand thing for at least a week now. I’m in full-on avoidant mode: people ask me about it, saying “You must be so excited!” and I sort of pull my eyebrows and the corners of my mouth up and go “Yeah! I am!” for three seconds and then I just can’t live the lie anymore and my face crumples into a worried frown and I go, instead, “I’m sort of scared.”
I’m scared that I won’t be able to support myself when I’m there. I’m scared that I’ll run out of money. I’m scared I’ll make bad choices while traveling. I’m scared I won’t take advantage of opportunities for fun and awesomeness because of money worries. I’m scared that I won’t be able to find a good place to live. I’m scared that I might have to drive a manual car on the wrong side of the road and get into an accident and die. I’m scared I won’t dance for a year and completely forget how and not be able to be part of the new troupe again. I’m scared that all my friends will forget me when I come home. I’m scared that I’ll be lonely. I’m scared that I will be too shy and intimidated to meet new people. I’m scared that I’ll lose something important and irreplaceable. I’m scared I’ll be excoriated for being an ugly American and that people will yell at me about Bush. I’m scared that when people come to visit I won’t know anything about whatever city I end up in and won’t be able to show them around. I’m scared of getting the time difference wrong and not calling my mom on her birthday. I’m scared that I’ll be overwhelmed by simple things like getting on the bus or going to the store. I’m scared that I’m planning to bring too much stuff. I’m scared that I’m planning to bring not enough stuff. I’m scared that my pack is too big for me to physically carry. I’m scared that I’ll stop writing because I’m not going to have the laptop for a while and maybe I’ll just get out of the habit. I’m scared I’ll miss everyone so much that I won’t be able to concentrate on adventure and experience but will be consumed by nostalgia. I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m scared. I AM SCARED.
This whole past week, when I’ve expressed these feelings, my good sweet friends have all immediately said, “It’s going to be wonderful. It’s going to be such an adventure and you’re going to love it. It’s going to be amazing and you’re going to have such a fantastic time. You have to do this now or you’ll always regret it.” And I’ve nodded and said “Dude, just keep telling me this, okay?”
I guess I have cold feet, a little. Maybe cold toes. I’ve found myself being super grateful for giving myself such a long time to get ready, because it means I’ve made all the preparations (well, most of them) and that everything’s in place. I haven’t seriously considered not leaving, but I can see how, if I didn’t already have tickets and stuff like that, I might self-sabotage by procrastinating getting them, and then, oops, they’re too expensive and oh well, it was a dumb idea anyway. The way I’ve done it, I have to go. I’ve already bought my (insanely expensive and non-refundable) tickets and I will be out of a job on July 7 and out of a house on July 15 so since I’m going to be uprooting myself anyway I may as well go to the other side of the planet, right? Since I already bought the tickets? And am booked at the Octopus Resort? It just goes to show you that sometimes being obsessive is helpful and not just annoying, you know?
I’ve been saying, for months now, that this trip is going to be an exercise in learning to let go, to be more spontaneous and less of a control freak. I wish I could start learning those things now, though, instead of going insane in the slow and somewhat orderly way I’m currently doing. Although, honestly, if I have to lose my mind about this, I’m doing it particularly pleasantly, with a lot of support and understanding from other people and also with a pretty fun to-do project, which has focused a lot of this itchy nervousness into productive things like going out and having fun. I call people and tell them that I have to knock off a couple more list items this weekend…they don’t want me to not make a list item, do they? No? Good, see you at eight-thirty then. Sneaky, right? As helpful as the list is, though, and as pleasantly robust my social calendar is, there’s this undercurrent of Whose Idea Was This Anyway and What The Hell Are You Thinking and This Is All Going To End In Tears.
But. Also. Underneath all that, there’s something else. I feel is most often when I get into bed at night and stare at nothing and realize that soon I won’t be sleeping in the bed in which I am currently nicely tucked. As I wrestle with that realization, another one slowly emerges, just for a couple of seconds, usually right before I close my eyes: I am doing this. I’m doing it alone, exactly the way I want to. I am doing it at exactly the right time. I am going to be unrecognizable this time next year, closer to the person I want to become. I am scared, yes indeed, I am terrified, but I am also the strongest and bravest I have ever been. New Zealand has given me that gift before I even get there.