And So Our Journey Begins

Current status: typing this on our first flight from Charleston to Boston; posting this a few days later from Mývatn, North Iceland

Everything we’ll need for a year(?) on our backs… and fronts

Our big day is finally here! Life has been incredibly hectic over the last few weeks—wrapping up school for the kids, wrapping up loose ends of all sorts for the parents, and lots and lots of packing. We’ve had a slew of “lasts” for now—the last stroll through our beautiful neighborhood, the last hugs goodbye from close friends, the last visit from my younger brother (who flew all the way from LA in the middle of a long-anticipated move to spend a few days with us last week), the last cuddles with our pups (currently in the excellent hands of our house/dog sitter)…

I will write more about the packing later when I have a chance to have a moment away from it to really digest it, but needless to say, if you know me IRL, you know that:

  • A) packing stresses me out like nothing else when it comes to a trip;
  • B) I am a chronic over-packer who worries about all of the what-ifs when it comes to things like temperature, weather, potential range of activities, and above all, FOOTWEAR;
  • C) the thought of somehow packing for a year for four of us with me being the solo adult has had me in tears or verging on the precipice of an anxiety attack multiple times over the last few months;
  • D) and I have spent the last… week(?) “preparing to pack,” i.e. getting the first round of everyone’s clothing gathered along with various supplies I have purchased over the course of the last year… and then “practice-packing,” i.e. doing a trial run of packing for myself and each of the three kids, unpacking, repacking, making a last-minute run to our fave local outdoor gear shop Half Moon Outfitters to buy new backpacks for two of the three kids, weighing everything, reorganizing it all, playing Tetris with packing cubes, having dreams about packing (for real), making everyone go for a walk around the block with loaded packs (actually, that was Sam’s brilliant idea), and then finally, finally, finally, being forced to get into an Uber and head to the airport just a couple of hours ago.

Packing, all of the goodbyes, and just the weight of thinking about doing this for a year with the kids on my own* have made me so stressed out that yesterday I asked Ben, our 12-year-old, whether I had made a stupid decision to embark on this trip. He handled it well, despite appearing mildly horrified that I was asking such a question less than 24 hours before we were due to board our first flight. I continued my packing ridiculousness while crying and texting with Sam about the state of my nerves. He deserves (and will receive) more accolades than a passing mention here, but he responded in pretty much the best, most supportive way possible: he reminded me that a) I have wanted this for many, many months (I bought our first tickets back in September!) and b) that I can and should think of this trip not as a single, yearlong journey but instead as a series of trips, which feels WAY less overwhelming to me.

*I’m fully aware that no one made me do this—I wanted to, and I made this voyage come to fruition—but also just owning the fact that doing this without my partner by my side for much of the time also feels really daunting.

…Time to get a couple of hours of sleep before we hit the ground running in Iceland!

Melanie

Hey there! I’m Melanie. Originally from Brooklyn, home is now Charleston, SC--or wherever my three kids and husband are. Our family gap year will take us around the world, touching down on six continents over 12 months.
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