How many sleeps?

Only one more sleep to go.

And this might be something of a rambling post as it has been something of an emotional week, for both personal and political reasons.

So. Today, my final chore is to actually pack the suitcases. I say final chore, obviously there are a few other minor details, such as squirreling away the dirty washing that has been piling up under my determinedly disinterested nose. I am not thinking about laundry at this late stage in the game.

It was the selection of which clothes to take, a chore completed just yesterday, that made this trip become real to me. I have felt strangely detached from the pretty awesome fact that we’re about to up sticks and fly halfway (not quite halfway, see posts passim) across the world and live for nearly three months in a totally unknown city. Unknown to us, obvs. I’m pretty certain the 13.62m people living there know about it. Several times this past week, friends have come up to me and exclaimed, “You must be sooooo excited!” and I’ve said, yes, it is all very exciting, with a fixed grin on my face, concealing the thought that, actually, I’m not excited at all. I’m too busy thinking about vacuuming the house, and packing away the clothes we’re not taking, and where the children’s passports are, and are we allowed to take paracetamol into Japan, and buying enough cat food to last three months, and cleaning the oven, and emptying the bins, and going to the funeral of an incredible young woman…

And then that was all done. All past, completed, over. And it was the extraction of outfits from my wardrobe, and the rapidly expanding pile of stuff to take, that made this trip all the more real, and suddenly properly, truly exciting. “This is going to be incredible,” I said to husband. He looked relieved.

The truth is, I think any excitement we’ve felt up until now has been felt through a sense of duty. We’ve understood we should feel excited, we’re so damn fortunate, so damn privileged to be in a position to do something like this. But the excitement we’re feeling because we’re obliged to has been tempered by a much more natural fear: of the unknown, of doing something so out of character for us…

And we’ve been honest with the children about this. Friends were surprised when I told them the children were nervous. Why would they be nervous? they asked. They’re children. Children don’t get nervous. They’re going on an incredible adventure. What’s to be nervous about? Here’s what they’re nervous about: the unknown; the length of time we’ll be away from their friends; the 11-hour flight (6yo is anxious on planes); missing out on essential schoolwork; their friends not missing them… Because they might be children, but children are also human, and also get nervous.

I have explained to them that mum and dad are feeling exactly the same – apprehensive, exhilarated – and that we’re all in the same boat. I think this is reassuring for them, because it validates their feelings and lets them know they are not being unreasonable. Which in turn validates my feelings and lets me know I’m not being unreasonable…

Ha.

Yes, this has been a truly rambling post. It has been a truly emotional week. And now, my final Sisyphean task is to squeeze an unfeasible number of clothes into a very small number of suitcases. It’s all very exciting.

 

Thinking of Marion

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6 Comments

  1. newfiescot says:

    So natural to feel all of this, and so helpful to others that you express it honestly. We’ll miss your presence in town for sure, but it’s fantastic that you will be sharing about it and no doubt challenging all our prejudices (as ever!)… Japan will never be the same after this.
    Carol xx

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    1. Cheers Carol. To be honest, by the end of this trip you’ll probably be sorry I share so much…!

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  2. m Ellel says:

    I find the early part of planning a big trip exciting. Then it’s done and the fear sets in. I am always terrified before I go so you are right in voicing mixed feelings for you and the children. Once I get going then it is focus on the practicalities, however I hate flying!!
    All the best. …travel makes you a fuller person. .can’t think of the correct english phrase.

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    1. Getting going really did put paid to the fear. Once we were on our way the nerves dissipated.

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  3. Bev says:

    I understand this completely. I’d be exactly the same. However, when someone else does exciting things it all seems very exciting – because I don’t have to worry about it! Irrational thoughts are their job. I just get to sit in the comfort of my own home reading your posts and being envious of your adventure. Humans are mental. At some point on this trip, whether it be arriving safely or 5 days in or near the end you will have the realisation that you are having a bloody marvelous time. However, you still have to arrive in the unknown first. xx

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    1. I shall endeavour to indulge in all kinds of exciting adventures you can read about from the comfort of your sofa!

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