I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye”
No, this is not a review of the Sound of Music! This is, however, the song that popped into my mind when I thought about writing this post.
It’s been a week since I walked out of the store I was working in- never to return. I felt lighter within minutes of departure. I was FREE. Wow, free. I allowed my mind to rest on that thought for a long time that day. I still stop from time to time and reflect on the reality of it all. It’s a damn good feeling.
Three weeks ago, whenever I thought about leaving for my round-the-world adventures, I thought about saying goodbye to my parents, calling my brothers and some emails to friends. It was simple. Small. When my Aunt passed away almost 2 weeks ago, things changed. I was plunged into the world that I had been all but absent from. I reached out to a cousin of mine to offer support and ended up falling in love with her and her family all over again. Our family has never been close. However, after a few days with her and her family, they were no longer just names in an address book. They were family. My family.
Since then, I’ve attended my Aunt’s memorial service- where I was able to re-connect with family members I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years. It was fantastic. Some of us bonded instantly, others- not so much. When my Grandfather’s brother, his wife and the wife of one of his other brothers (Holy crap that sounds confusing!) walked through the door to the hall, I lost it. I was so touched that they would come. I also became acutely aware of the time remaining.
Within the last 8 months, I’ve lost a Grandmother (my last Grandparent), a favourite Great Uncle and an Aunt. Whose next? I dread to think about it. They’re ageing and some of my great Aunts and Uncles are not well. With this in mind, I resolved to spend time with each of them (the ones that live here) before I leave for my trip.
I know it probably sounds morbid, but I want to have good memories should anything happen while I’m gone.
The memories you make with family and friends before ‘the big trip’ can help keep you company on those hard days on the road. Yes, there will be hard days!
Here are some things you can do to make it easier on both you and your family.
- Photos– take lots and lots of photos before you leave. You’ll love looking at them when you’re lonely for a friendly and familiar face.
- Make a silly video– travel depression is common, especially when you’re a solo traveller like myself. Before you leave home gather family or friends (or both) and make a silly video. Post it on You Tube, email it to everyone you know, post it on facebook- wherever you want. On those depressed days, search it out and watch it. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll be ready to get on with the rest of your day.
- Postcards– Have your family and friends write you a postcard BEFORE you leave. They’re easy to carry. If you want, do postcards with a twist. Have them put on a confession or something random and not sign them. You can sit down and flip through them when you’re alone and try to figure out who wrote what. There could be some interesting shit in them!
No matter what you do, when the day arrives for you to say goodbye and walk through airport security it’s not going to be easy. Tears will form and throats will clench. Goodbyes are never easy. Just remember how much your family and friends love you (even if they’re like my family and have a seriously weird way of showing it).
Hold onto your good memories and focus on your upcoming adventures. Maybe you can even wear that macaroni crown that cousin Mary’s daughter made for you and dumped glitter all over. You may look weird and people will laugh and point- but that’s all part of the fun and the memories. Right?