And We Have Liftoff!

(This entry was written during the flight on 7/19/17 and posted later.)

I’m so-oh-oh-oh-oh tired.

Yes, it’s finally happening. After years of thinking about this adventure, not sure that it would ever happen, and after hundreds of hours planning it, we are in the air. You’d think I’d feel elated. But no. I am too freaking exhausted.

The most I have been able to muster was relief at finding a bandaid in my purse to ease the throbbing pain of a new blister from these shoes.

I sure hope the agony of preparing for such a trip is like childbirth, in that you forget the tortuous pain and stress after awhile and only focus on the good that came out of it.

Lest ye think that preparing for a trip like this is glamorous, let me paint a picture. Because of our early-morning flight, we stayed at a San Francisco airport hotel last night, and this morning the room was complete chaos.  I had spent the evening repacking carefully organized suitcases to load balance and squeeze in all kinds of last-minute supplies. Yet somehow this morning, there was stuff everywhere. With minutes to go before catching our 5 a.m. shuttle, we were shoving things anywhere they’d fit. Our poor children were zombies doing their best to get ready, frantically hopping to our often conflicting orders to do this or that.  And then came my Not-Mother-of-the-Year moment. I actually said the following to my sweet, gentle 10 year old (and I can’t believe I did this…): “GET YOUR A** DOWN TO THE LOBBY! NOW!”

This scene was representative of the last several weeks, and especially the last week, which simultaneously involved packing and moving out of our home, living out of our friends’ guest room while doing final packing for the trip, finishing both business and personal taxes, dealing with unexpected orthodontia and dental issues, and handling a host of personal finance and travel logistics. Oh, and uh, traffic school. Considering all that was going on while also juggling normal family commitments like kids’ sports schedules and such, we were actually quite organized.

Nonetheless, I could fund a college scholarship from the money I’ve had to contribute to the Naughty Word Jar these last several weeks. It’s not normally my style, but planning a trip like this will do that to you.

My husband and I kept asking ourselves, “Are we sure it’s worth it?” We can thank our friends for continually reassuring us that, yes, it would be.

We’ve actually received a lot of questions about what it takes to put one of these adventures together. I’ll do some posts about that in coming weeks. I’d love to spare you my learning curve, should you ever decide to go for it. In terms of packing, here is what our family of four will travel with for the year. Clothing and personal items just take up three suitcases and three carry-ons.  The fourth suitcase and one of the daypacks are full of other supplies, medications, some school workbooks, everything needed for the what-ifs, and spares we might not easily find wherever we happen to be…Yikes – about 45 lbs. and 25% of the volume of our total baggage.img_99951.jpgThank heavens for our amazing kids. They’ve been total troopers through the gradual dismantling of their home, the goodbyes to friends and prized possessions that would not be making the trip with us, the restrictive packing list and the general craziness. I’ve been utterly amazed at the grace with which they’ve handled it all. Last night we had just said farewell for a year to life as we know it, and all they could focus on was a gleeful joyride on the luggage cart. God bless ’em!

 

I had always envisioned a similarly blissful, elated airport experience on the morning of our first flight – filled with anticipation and excitement. Maybe there would even be bon voyage balloons and streamers as we breezed through security and floated off to the gate to begin our marvelous adventure. Kind of an airport equivalent of this:

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Instead, it looked like this:

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We arrived at the airport and immediately weighed our suitcases at an empty ticket counter. ARGH! One was still over the 50 lb. weight limit. The others were too stuffed to fit another thing. Drats! We frantically did yet more load balancing. When we got to the Delta baggage drop counter…still overweight! (Don’t these airlines calibrate their scales for God’s sakes???) Exasperated, I pulled out a shopping tote, shoved a bunch of things into it, and voila! 50 lbs exactly and a temporary, extra carry on. Not an elegant solution but good enough.

We made it onto the plane, and happily it was a smooth ride from San Francisco to JFK and then on to London. I watched a horror movie to bring my adrenaline down and then went to sleep.

Up next…a short video montage of this first leg through the eyes of a twelve year old.

11 thoughts on “And We Have Liftoff!

  1. Congratulations on getting past what is hopefully the biggest challenge of the trip – leaving! I love how real this is and can’t wait to hear more. Happy travels!

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  2. Loved the launch entry. A good friend of mine said that his parents took him and his brother out of school to travel for 6 weeks when they were about 10 and 12 years old and they’ve appreciated it their entire lives (he is now 68 years old). Congratulations on starting a great adventure!

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  3. Great writing. Mother of the year awards come in many shapes and sizes. You have shown your kids that you are human and are giving them a wonderful gift of seeing the world.

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  4. Congratulations to all of you for making it on the plane! We think of you often and are enjoying your Instagram too. I love your writing–thanks for making me smile today!

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  5. Oh my Theresa, I’m just getting to read everything after receiving the email from you in the last few days with the link. I’m so excited for y’all and am so glad to get to follow your journey. You’re a great momma, despite the challenging moments! I can’t even imagine the dynamics at time, probably mostly on the amazing end now that the trip is underway. Love you!

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