A Lingering Goodbye

I have loved living in this gorgeous little green valley I’ve called home for 22 life-packed years. However, each day now feels so routine, so predictable, so . . . expected. I am keeping my eye on my next adventure, one that is sure to wake me up from my daily stupor—leaping into the vagabonding lifestyle for which I am taking a full year to prepare.

If you know me, you know I always reach my goals. I see the vision, sharpen it to crystal clarity. I burn it into my brain, then lower my eyes to the next small footsteps I must take to get there. This enormous, exciting leap into the vast unknown of living on the road is the biggest life change that I have ever set for myself. (Maybe aside from earning my chemistry degree at age 44. That was pretty big.)

As the cooling autumn season turns the leaves of the maples, liquidambers, aspens, and ashes to brilliant yellows, golds, oranges, reds, and burgundies, my eyes lift once again to the goal—a beginning, actually—looming ever closer. Two months from today I say goodbye, farewell, adieu, adios to my little town, my home, my life here. I ride the waves of sadness, elation, fear, happiness, concern, and anticipation. And yet, I focus on being present each day. After all, I’m not gone today.

autumn leaves
Autumn in Lithia Park

An offer on my house is in the process of being approved, and my home of ten years is nearly empty. In a corner of my bedroom sits a carry-on-size backpack, the bag that will become my turtle shell home. A small pile of must-haves—tweezers, flashlight, mini-clamps, earplugs, moleskin—grows in a large zip-lock bag next to the bag. They’re not really must-haves at this point but items for consideration. As I see a small item or think of a possible-need, it just goes into the plastic bag for later processing. I recently filled my prescriptions for travel: Cipro, Z-pak, malaria pills, chill pills for potential road anxiety. Into the zip-lock they went. (Here’s a travel tip: you can actually request your prescriptions to be packaged in small zip-lock bags with the pharmacy labels taped to them. Perfect for condensing space!)IMG_1186

My head lifts now from my writing. I gaze across the valley to the view of Grizzly Peak outside my window. The burnt yellow grasses from a long, hot summer stand in contrast to the dark, dull green-brown of the trees running toward the top of the mountain. I love this view. I love the views around the entire Rogue Valley. I love the intense brilliance of the autumn leaves, the snow-tinged mountaintops of winter, the early push of crocuses and daffodils and tulips in spring. I love the magnificent and colorful skies, the clouds, the hawks and vultures. I have loved this little valley for decades, and I am ready to say goodbye to it all.

A stunning cloud formation just east of Grizzly Peak.

Like everyone, I have had friends come and go. I have friends with whom I have grown closer and friends from whom I’ve grown apart. I have dear friends who will always be in my life. Interestingly, I’ve recently made new friends in this long, lingering goodbye before I leave on my travels, friends I wish I had years to spend time with. I have been elated in my friendships, and I have been deeply disappointed. Just the normal range of human experience, I suppose.

The Firecracker Queens! I am just to the left of our winner’s banner.

But the hardest goodbye will be to my furry orange companion of the last five years, my big boy, my Apples. He was my main comfort during a difficult time, my cuddle bug in the cold winter nights, my too-big-for-my-lap lap cat. I can’t go there yet.

Apples 2
Waking up with my boy, Apples

I feel myself becoming softer, more tender, more gentle with myself and others as I prepare for this massive transition. Live has become more precious. I’ve slowed down, the better to slow the time. While I am excited
to depart, I want to savor these last remaining weeks. I do not need to be in a hurry. There is time. There is nothing but time.

My big boy.
My big boy.