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In the next couple of posts, we’ll wrap up our African Adventure. But it’s been a year since we first took off for our round the world trip, so I wanted to offer up a few words on leaving…
A year ago, we got on a plane at JFK airport in New York and woke up in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Nellu and I barely talked the whole flight. We were both still carrying the stress of the last week (and months really) — moving out of our apartment on Thursday, quitting our jobs on Friday and packing up everything so we could be on that Sunday night flight. Monday morning in Brazil, on a bad night’s sleep, we tried to follow the detailed directions to get from the airport to our host’s downtown apartment, communicating in broken English sprinkled with “obrigado,” the Portuguese word for thank you. This would be our new reality.
Now we’ve been gone for what seems like such a long time, our friends have started to ask if we’re ever coming home. We are, probably in June. But with a month at home last July and the extra month we needed here at the end to see family, friends, and a little bit more of Europe, we’ll have 14 months of distance from our old lives by the time we get back.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from all this time on the road: the importance of stepping outside the institutions we live in – or more simply – the importance of leaving. It’s so easy to think that our world is the whole world. We give undue attention to minor bumps (it’s the end of the world). We miss opportunities because we’re so singularly focused (or perhaps so generally distracted) that we’ve got our blindsiders on. We fail to question all the little assumptions we make every day about the way we live because when everything works as well as it does in our modern society (and so cheaply), we have no reason to think differently.
I’m still dumbfounded that the only time we’ve used a clothes dryer in the last year was during our month at home. I also can’t tell you the number of times we’ve bought milk in bags or paid more than $5 for a gallon of gas.
We don’t have jobs when we get home. We’ll be summering in Connecticut (my favorite euphemism for living with my parents) until we get our acts together. I am not exactly sure what we’ll do but I’m hoping to find a middle ground between this life and our old one.