Everything’s packed, including the car, thanks to Treasa, who last night when she came home from her wedding anniversary dinner immediately said “I love packing cars! It’s my hobby.” Since Monday I’ve had seven dates with eighteen fantastic people in between errands and I didn’t cry until the last one, when Linda gave me a mirror with a fortune cookie fortune on it that says “You will be successful in your venture.” I’ve been listening to bhangra music for the past couple of days because it is impossible not to dance in the car when you hear “Jogi” by Panjabi MC and it is impossible to be sad when you are dancing in the car. I did have a couple more tears coming home to Ballard after dinner last night as I was doing shoulder lifts at stoplights but not too bad. Considering.
In an hour I’m going to pack this laptop into a case and leave it on the front living room table with my house key on top. I’ll get in the car and drive the last load of boxes to my cousin David’s house, and then I’ll stop off in Tacoma to get a hug and a batch of fresh brownies from Erica, and then three hours later I’ll meet Tracy at Powell’s. We’ll all sleep at Paul’s house, who was one of my fiancees at Burning Man, and I’ll go out to dinner with my other cousins Michael and Jereme. Did you know the Pacific Northwest is rife with my male cousins? Neither did I, until I decided to leave the hemisphere.
Tomorrow I’ll give Peter and Tracy the title and key to the car and I’ll get on the plane, and I’ll see a bunch more people I really love, and then I’ll see my mom and sister, whom I also really love, and during our road trip’s scheduled two days at the Monterey Bay Aquarium I plan to spend at least a full hour by the octopus tank. Mom left a message that her offer on a new house on the island was accepted yesterday, so she’ll be moving and my childhood house will be torn down soon. I imagine we’ll talk about that a lot this week, as well as the fact that my grandmother is currently receiving hospice care. I imagine it will all feel very surreal. I remember when I left for college, how I wouldn’t let her come to Claremont with me, how I insisted on going alone, and how she cried at the gate but smiled at me and kept her head high, so proud of me. Will she do that this time? She won’t be able to see me get on the plane, with “courage on my breast,” as Angela wrote me last night. I see my mom twice a year so I’ll really be only missing one visit but the next time I go home to the island my house won’t be there and that is a strange strange thought, but no more strange than the thought that I am walking out of this door in forty-five minutes and leaving Seattle for over a year. When will it be real? When will I understand that the cloud room is no longer the cloud room, that I won’t have a key ring for a while, that I am going to the other side of the world?
The last couple of days as I’ve been doing errands I’ve occasionally had to explain…to the guy at the bank or to the woman behind the counter at the licensing office…that I’m going to New Zealand. “Wow,” they’ve said. “I wish I could do something like that.”
“You can,” I’ve said, signing my name and paying my fee. “You just have to decide to do it! Anyone can!” What I haven’t said is, “You can go to New Zealand too, or London or Africa or Spokane if you want to. It’s all in the choices you make. You can choose to live in a nice house in a great neighborhood with all of your friends and a wonderful Sunday market, and comfort and stability and community. You can also choose to quit your job at which you are very good, and leave people you really care about, and feel as though you have no home in the world, in the interests of listening to the part of yourself that has been wanting to go and try something new for at least two and a half years now. If you want to do something enough, you will find a way, no matter how long it takes. I have chosen away from security and familiarity for novelty and adventure, and while I am pretty sure I am making the right decision it has turned out to be much harder than I thought it would be.”
I’ve got my tickets, my passport, my travelers’ checks and my water bottle. I’ve got clothes, too many clothes, for two climates and various social situations. I’ve got directions to Powell’s and its hellspawn parking lot, I’ve got the hot tub at the ABL, I’ve got my octopus earrings and my BALLARD! necklace on for good luck, I’ve got my sunglasses and presents to give everyone who’s helped me on my way out of here and a list of addresses to which to send postcards. It’s time to go now.
Seattle: sun on the water; the outlines of the Olympics; the deep winter clouds; making soup at home; mid-week pho lunches in the U-District; Monday night bellydance; my library hold list; my stuffed octopus collection; tall two percent hot chocolate no whip or, lately, twelve-ounce non-fat chai tea, please; KEXP; the spa; berry season; roller derby; book club; the walk across campus past the fountain to the art museum café; picking people up at the airport and saying “Where were you, I thought we said to meet at baggage claim!”; cupcakes and Tall Grass Bakery bread; third Thursdays at the Capitol Club; birthday parties; checking email in the middle of the night from my bed; mushroom pizza at the Hi-Life; walking to Sunset Park; sleeping in the cloud room underneath my old princess crown. Part of me thinks that if I go upstairs right now there all my stuff will be, and I’ll put on work clothes and locate my bus pass and leap off the front steps to catch the bus. I can’t believe how much this hurts.
Don’t let me go completely, everyone, save me a place. I don’t know when I’m coming back but I’m taking you with me in my heart; let me come home to you again.