Washington National Airport with our Stuff 

Tuesday May 5th, 1999 -- Chicago O'Hare Airport.

We didn't mean to avoid connecting with the new reality. Other things just kept getting in the way.

For the past two and a half years we've planned this trip, selling homes and switching jobs to make it possible. For the last year we lived in a one bedroom apartment in Spring Valley, New York. Then two weeks ago I left my job and we began the whirlwind that has ended today.

We moved our mountain of things from NY down to our parents' attics in Richmond Virginia. We loaned away our computer, our clothes, our cars and our cats. It hasn't yet felt like vacation or semi-retirement. We spent those fourteen days in nonstop motion -- moving boxes, saying good-byes and packing, packing, packing.

It is amazing how parting with 'stuff' changes ones mind-state. Suddenly we're not sleeping with our purring teddy bear Sardie, and our 'little one,' George-Ann, no longer sits on our lap watching TV. (Saying goodbye to creatures who love us but can't understand saying goodbye is one of life's hardest things.) Car-lessness was a feeling from youth I had forgotten. It grants to one a dis-empowered feeling perfected by American suburban sprawl.

Four hours after returning from Halifax Va. (where the cars are stored), we had our good-bye party, packed through the night and got a ride to Washington DC. There we boarded the plane to Chicago, and though intellectually we knew the Big Trip and A Different Life was upon us, we were still distracted by schedules and last minute details. Our minds still managed to avoid the long-term picture. (No phone, no TV, and where we don't know the language…)

(Even with everything that's stored away, we had a heap of things to push around the airport. We both traveled Europe in college with just a pack on our back. I guess we've 'grown up' and now we have a cart-full of our special stuff….)



Kathleen Driving in Chicago

On Sunday we arrived in Chicago and had a delightful but brief visit with Kathleen's family Clan. But we had not enough time to sightsee in the Windy City. Distractions still shut out the new reality.




Typing in chicago

But now we're sitting on a bench looking out at cloud covered sky. We wait to board standby and it's giving us time to reflect on the jump we're making. As I write in this journal, they make announcements in two foreign languages. No more missing the picture; it's Hello Europe Time.


Click here to see how we fare in the Netherlands!



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