Sunday, 15 July 2007

I thought my first journal entry would be done from our first destination, London.  I’ve come to realize that this trip really started two years ago, when we began to plan, even though our location remained in Austin. And it became even more of a reality this summer, when we began to home school, from Austin. And when we packed our bags last week for a trial run, one duffel and five backpacks sitting on the floor of our bedroom in Austin, I realized that we’ve been leaving, little by little, for a long time.

This weekend we’re saying last goodbyes to my family, next weekend Clay’s brother and his family come in for their goodbyes. Sprinkled among the next three weeks are goodbyes to neighbors, school friends, church friends, writing friends, old family friends.

The past few weeks, when people ask, what are you most looking forward to, Clay and I answer immediately: “Leaving.” Not because we don’t love our home and friends and family, but because you can only say “goodbye” for so long before it’s time to be done. And to leave already. Seventeen days to go. The countdown has been ticking down for two years, the difference is, now we’re keeping track.


Tuesday, 31 July 2007

What’s it like the night before you leave for nine and a half months to travel around the world? Scary. Crazy. Exhilarating. All the emotions we’ve been going through for the past two years, all rolled into a tight ball right in the pit of my stomach. I think I need some Pepto and we’re not even in Africa yet.

Our house is cleaner than it’s been in a long, long time (ready for Chris, our renter). Our lives are packed into five backpacks and two duffels. “Two duffels?” our friends and family ask. We’ve been confidently proclaiming that we can fit all we need for nine and a half months into one duffel and five backpacks, but alas, when it came down to stuffing time, it wasn’t to be. With homeschool materials for three kids, and a six-year-old who can’t shoulder a heavy load, we just couldn’t do it.

We had to face the cold, hard fact that this trip won’t be exactly as we imagined it. Footloose and fancy free with our one duffel, as onlookers gazed enviously at our light load. “How did you do it?” I could hear them asking in awe. Sigh. First I laid down in defeat. Then I got back up and added a few more books and a nice beefy journal with a leather cover and lots of pages, since we had all that extra room in our extra duffel. So it wasn’t so bad.

I think the past two years we have been getting ready to write a novel. We’ve got the plot. The five Davises embark on an around the world journey. We’ve got the outline. All those tedious details like airplane and train tickets, hotel confirmations, and an 18 page document listing all the things we can do for every destination we’ll be visiting. Now it’s time to actually sit down and write the darn thing. Every writer knows they should make use of all the senses and record what they see, hear, smell, taste and touch. We’ll finally be seeing English beefeaters, hearing monkeys outside our safari tent at night, smelling the markets in Marrakesh, tasting the pizza in Italy, and touching the ancient walls of Machu Picchu.

I wrote this poem in my journal this summer:

Diving Board
I walk to the end
Give a bounce and walk back
Rise on my toes
And run towards
The edge,
The end.
The beginning,
And jump.

And that’s how it feels the night before leaving on a nine and a half month journey around the world.


Wednesday, 1 August 2007

We have had our trip clothes (the clothes everyone will wear for our first travel day to London) sitting on a chair in our bedroom for weeks now. This morning, we finally got to put them on. Clay got up early this morning and went for a run, then jumped in the shower. When he got out, he realized he left his trip clothes sitting on the chair in our room. Those familiar with our house know that to get from our bathroom to the bedroom, you have to dash across a space that is visible from the front door. This is unfortunate when you are naked.

So Clay, freshly showered, began to dash from the bathroom to the bedroom to retrieve his clothes. Little did he know Alayna was dashing into our room at the same time. She turned in front of him without seeing him, Clay had built up momentum and couldn’t slow down, so he covered himself as best he could with his hands. Alayna turned to see her naked dad bearing down on her and screamed. She ran out of the room and hid, still screaming. Clay grabbed his clothes and explained to Alayna that this probably wouldn’t be the last time she saw her dad naked on this trip. An auspicious start to our morning!

Alayna was further horrified when she learned of our plan to all share the same deodorant. We decided it was just too much for a twelve year old girl to handle, and put her own strawberry scented deodorant into the bag. A small concession for family harmony.

We said our goodbyes to our parents, Clay’s came to the house and helped clean out the fridge, mine made lunch for us. Then we were off to the airport, to wait. Storms in Dallas delayed our flight, but luckily our connecting flight to London is delayed as well. Our kids quickly flipped open their Nintendo DS games and sat in a row. Benji has a hamster game, and he can teach his hamster new words by speaking into a speaker on his game. Every once in a while, he holds the game up to his mouth and shouts “good morning!” Nobody around us even bats an eye. Lots of grown-ups are talking into electronic devices of various shapes and sizes, snoozing, listening to iPods.

It’s been over an hour and the kids are beginning to tire of their little games. Time to pull out the cards, and dice. Just looked up and saw the flight has been pushed back another half hour. Family game night at the airport. I just love a good excuse to eat Cheetos and Starburst. It’s still a “bon voyage”.