Posts Tagged 'saying goodbye'

A Totally Normal Pre-Departure Freak-Out

So. It was bound to happen: I had my first pre-departure freak-out today.

Actually, I’m kind of still having it, in the midst of it, as I’m writing this. I’m sitting here, on one of the most goddamn beautiful days we’ve had in a shitty/foggy anti-summer, surrounded by trash bags filled with the various components that compose my life. I’m nauseous and hazy feeling and I can’t really cry anymore and I don’t know what to do with myself. So I’m writing a blog post about how I had a freak-out, and I’m writing about it in the past tense, because it’s easier to pretend it’s over and done with, passed like a nasty little storm cloud on an otherwise perfect, Indian Summer day.

It started with money. It always starts with money. There isn’t enough of it. Not ever and especially now. Maybe if I had a trust fund or a nest egg or a looming inheritance, but I’ve got none of that. I’ve got about half the money I wanted to have, and it’s entirely possible that I’ll land in Phnom Penh with only a couple hundred bucks to my name.

Yes, far less capable people with far fewer skills than I have landed in a similar situation and done just fine. (This is what I keep telling myself at least.) But I’ve always had a job, always had a reliable source of income, and I’m about to give that up for a very long time.

I keep recounting, obsessively adding sums and subtracting costs, best-cases and worst-cases and most-probable projections. They’re all fucked, I decided this morning. And I’m fucked with them.

And then I got to thinking about all there is to do. It’s a lot. Moving out of an apartment, going to the dump, going to the Goodwill, dismantling a life. There’s tons of people to see, appointments to keep, loose ends to tie up—disputes over medical bills to resolve and a car to sell. There’s goodbyes to orchestrate, a wedding to go to.

I don’t want to do any of it.

I want to cancel everything and curl up on my soggy-soft mattress, thin old sheets over blood stains, and stare out the window and do fucking none of it. I want to be Vicodin-floaty, detached, numb, not here.

But that’s the addict in me, who always wants to escape. And I don’t think that addict will ever go away, just kind of live inside me, flare up sometimes—times like this—but usually just more subdued, in the corner, a quiet but insistent whisper.

Of course, I know I’m going to do it all, take care of it. And of course I won’t be dropped on my ass and of course I’ll find a way to scrape together enough money and be okay. Of course it’s normal, I suppose, to freak out a bit before a huge transition—I’d be a little suspect if I didn’t freak out. Of course the sadness and the anxiety and the feeling, not of panic but of monumental, mind-wracking, gut-wrenching worry, in the face of a big blank unknown—of course all this is totally normal, right?

Right?

The Final Countdown

I fly out one month from today. So I’ve been running around my apartment doing Gob-like magic moves, singing this song:

But, to be real, it’s funny how the imminent move has shifted my perspective. It’s changed my focus on what’s important, and how I want to spend my time. There’s lots I should be doing—sending pitches and queries, putting my furniture up on Craigslist, working six days a week and stockpiling money. There’s plenty of What Ifs I should be stressing on, that I really ought to be stressing on.

But having a tangible ending in sight has done the opposite: it’s zapped me into the present. It’s made me think about what’s important, forced me to think about how I want to spend this time—this precious, short time—before I leave.

And my main focus isn’t on all the shit I have to do (which is a lot) or trying to manage all the unknowns (which are a lot), but on how I can best enjoy this last month, how I can best soak in this little life I’ve had here. Today, it was by sleeping late, eating an enormous Fenton’s sundae with friends, rereading a book I love. And by dancing around to this ridiculous song…


Lauren Quinn is a writer and traveler currently living in Hanoi. Lonely Girl Travels was a blog of her sola travels and expat living from 2009 to 2012. She resides elsewhere on the internet now.

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