As my departure date creeps nearer, I have begun the teary goodbyes and last-minute visits to friends and family. As November 4th neared, those friends with whom I touch base about once started emailing me en masse. That’s where I am right now. I spent this past weekend up in Orlando visiting with college friends and the such. I was in a co-ed honors fraternity at University, so I visited with my favorite brothers. We went to Press 101 in Orlando, a thoroughly cute café in the Dr. Phillips area. It was tasty but overpriced, so I handed over a Jackson for my panini and water. I look at each dollar going out as another one not making it into my travel budget. But the online travel forums assure me that when I make it to Southeast Asia, that $20 will get me as many as five nights of lodging. It makes the goodbye dinners and drinks look a little sweeter knowing that I can enjoy time here with friends but that I will soon be on a budget of an entirely different scale.
I also visited my brother while I was in Orlando. He’s in prison (long story), but I teared-up when I gave him one last hug. Saying goodbye to him was a moment. I can’t call him on the road as the phone-lines aren’t approved. And he can’t write me since I won’t have an address. It was weird to look at him and know that I won’t communicate with him for an entire year. I will send him postcards, and my mom can relay his hellos, but it was a very definite goodbye that stuck me in the gut.
Every day now, I give one more person a tight hug. Every day now, I say one more fierce goodbye. I give and receive the standard platitudes and each time it points me closer to the moment I get on that airplane bound for Sydney. An upside to all of these goodbyes is that it means I am spending every single evening hanging out with friends. With all of that planning stress I forced on myself over the past few weeks, I am wallowing in this quality time with my family and friends.
In fact, it’s even inspiring me to take unexpected local trips that have been on the back-burner for ages. This weekend, my parents and I are taking my niece and nephew to Dinosaur World. We’ve promised a visit to Little Eric — my nephew who is obsessed with dinosaurs — for months and I figured this was be a great opportunity for me to have a fun outing with the kids one last time. As for Dinosaur World, I’ve seen it on the side of the highway for decades but never visited. It has over 150 life-size dinos and my 5-year old nephew simply could not be more thrilled. He current refuses to respond to his name and instead you have to call him Rex, as in T-Rex.
This is my last weekend in Florida; I’m glad that it is booked solid with visits with the family and my friends.
There’s anxiety clenching in my chest when I have a down moment to actually think about my upcoming travels. I’m happy to stay busy and that all these goodbyes have given me the chance to suffuse my life with enough love from home to carry me through the coming year of solo travel.