This is pretty much representative of my state of mind at the moment. Add a few whooping noises, some folksy sing-along-clap-your-hands music and a couple of wild dance moves and you’ve got it.
I hear you scratching your heads and whispering to each other. “Wasn’t she kinda maudlin lately? Whining about living at home and complaining about being lost-lost-lost and all that stuff?” Yes, you’re right! But then the end of the month arrived and I suddenly realized how very, very little time there is until I take off on my trip the the USA and now I’m all sparkling and giddy and full of last-minute things to do!
Organize presents is a big one. I’m staying with a couple of friends at different times throughout the trip, some of which I’ve met face-to-face, others that I haven’t yet met in person, some of which have travelled a lot, others that have never been to Germany or even Europe. So of course I need presents. Representative of Germany, but not laden with clichés. Personal, but not too specific so that I run the risk of them not liking it. I think I’m doing a good job so far, I’ve got most of them sorted. Yes, photo-books are included, as is one of my favourite German movies, a cooking book, some literature and quite a bit of music. Now I only need a handful of very small favour-like presents that I can give to new friends and spontaneous hosts on the road and then I’m good.
I love giving presents. You might have gathered that already.
Then there’s the packing list. I’m travelling with a very good friend for most of the trip and we’ve both decided to take as few things as humanely possible. Or maybe that should be as womanly possible. (Why do women always, always pack so much more than men?!?) Anyway, we want to buy clothes and stuff over there, so I sent my friend the list of things I propose to pack into my backpack and asked her to take everything down that she thinks I don’t need. She hasn’t got back to me yet, so maybe you guys could cast your eyes over this and give me some feedback:
clothes: underclothing (3x), socks (3x), hiking boots, normal shoes (1x), jeans (1x), shorts (1x), shirts (2x), jumper/hoodie (1)
bathroom stuff: comb, hairclips, etc., medium-sized towel (1x), toothbrush, 1 miniature version of: toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo
technical stuff: camera, second battery for camera, charger, external drive (with all my photos and music, for sharing), phone, phone charger, mp3-player, USB cable for the player, adapter (because we all really need different electricity systems… makes so much sense!) …. MAYBE: camcorder
arbitrary and/or important things: passport, credit card, travel diary, pen, sunglasses, train ticket, plane ticket, host presents, wedding present, pen knife, aspirin, my sunshine-yellow sarong, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road – most of which goes into a large across-the-shoulders-bag
So, anything important missing? Anything I can leave safely behind? I think I’m pretty good with this list. 🙂
Also, when did we get to a point where the technical equipment that we deem necessary far outweighs all the rest in volume and complexity?
Other things I need/want to do include cleaning the house before I leave (or at least my room, my office and so on), finishing the wedding present, comparing some prices on tablet computers so I can maybe see about getting one over there for cheaper, finding out about a good and affordable pre-paid phone number for one month, contacting a number of people to confirm dates, meet up with a number of people to say goodbye to (like my pregnant friend, who will have her baby just a few days after I return, which means I’m leaving her alone for the last stretch of her pregnancy, which I feel slightly guilty about, but to my defense, I didn’t know she was pregnant when I organized this trip!).
And I’m not going to look at anything to do with my job (or non-job) situation, I’m not going to make any decisions and I’m not going to think up any new plans or ideas. Time enough for that when I get back. And the best bit about that is that when someone on the road asks me what I do, I won’t say “Talk to you.” or “Breathing.” in a half-annoyed, half-patronizing way as I usually do, but I’ll just be able to say: “Live.” At this point, I’m so free that I can go in any direction whatsoever. I’m totally flexible, open for any suggestions. Let’s see what the world has to offer.
Yep. Those are flights.
(Please cover your ears while I do an inappropriate amount of squealing. You may also close your eyes during my dance moves.)
I have bought the tickets and alerted all my friends – I’m flying to the USA in the summer, travelling in the north-east for four weeks! Given my financial situation (read: the fact that I’m skint) this does not seem like an obvious choice of travel destination. The obvious choice would probably be to go camping in the garden.
However, my hand was slightly forced by the fact that one of my best friends is getting married in New York State and she and I would never forgive me if I hadn’t at least given it a serious thought. And once I had given it a serious thought or two (actually, I’ve thought about it from November till three days ago…), I found that it was possible after all. And since the plane tickets are the most expensive part, I decided to hang around and do some sightseeing. 🙂
I’m excited beyond everything and have mountains of travel literature (alright, six guide books and a couple of maps) lying in my office space so I can daydream and plan! To understand my excitement you’ll have to know that I LOVE travelling – I never feel more alive than when I explore a new place. Also, I’ll be meeting a good friend in Chicago (for the first time – how exciting in itself!) and attend my beautiful friend’s wedding, where quite a number of our mutual good friends will be as well. Plus, we (those friends and me) will do some travelling/road-tripping for a week after the wedding. PLUS, another best friend, that I asked on a sudden inspiration to accompany me, has just bought her tickets, on the same planes, in the seat next to me.
Is there any part of this that does not sound delicious, wonderful and amazing!?!?! My cup of joy is not overflowing – it’s bubbling and dancing. 🙂
Alright, over to you – I’m calling all the travel experts and those who know the area (the area being Chicago, New York and anything in between that’s accessible by public transport):
Any travel tips? Any must-see destinations? Any tips on saving money? Cheap bus lines? Good eating places, cheap places to stay (camping?)? Any hiking, exploring, nature-worshipping that I absolute cannot miss? Also: any music tips?
To all my beautiful blog readers, friends and the whole world – I’m wishing you a wonderful and merry Christmas and may peace and joy guide your days. All my wishes go out to those who have to spent these days in need, fear or danger (I’m thinking particularly of the refugees from Syria, but everybody else will be in my thoughts tonight as well). And I’m thankful for and grateful to all the good people out there who try to do something to change things for the better in so many different ways.
I’D Miilad Said! (Arabic for those refugees)
Shubh Naya Baras! (Hindi, because my parents are in India)
I just stopped in the middle of cleaning the drawers of my new room before starting to put away my things in it, and sat back on my feet to watch the reflection of the lamp and the candles in the window, glowing against a dark cloud in the dusky sky. It was one of those moments when you feel your vision going out, and like an astronaut sees the whole earth suspended in space, I suddenly became intensely aware of this city: of the people living in the neighbouring houses, in the house opposite mine and the one to the back, and the ones connected to those again, the people in this neighbourhood, and in neighbouring neighbourhoods, in the whole city. And it made me feel humble and sad and joyful all together, to think that we are all connected, all united in our shared pursuit of living, all the hundreds and thousands and millions of people, all individuals, all breathing and thinking and acting alongside me.
While I’m building my little nest, I’m feeling very small and very honoured to share this earth, this space, this life with you.