DDay: December 26, 2016
Our departure date of December 26 looms near. In some ways, it seems like eons ago that we finished work and began the “final” preparations for departing from DC for the start of our road trip. At the beginning of our retirement, we dedicated weekdays for work on trip preparations, leaving the weekends for “play.” We thought that this would provide some structure and leave ample time for packing up the house. In short order, we learned that the time allotted for packing was much more than adequate and we were about 80% done by late October, still facing nearly 2 additional months before our departure with little on our “to do” list. On top of finding ourselves with “extra” time, we were also learning to adjust to our new retirement budget.
This period coincided with the period just prior to and after the US Presidential election, a time when we found ourselves tied to watching and listening news to the point where it was difficult to extricate ourselves . . . I started to feel like I was tied by a gigantic magnet to CNN, the New York Times, 538 blog, Facebook postings and more. It was difficult to pull away and yet, it was just as difficult to stay put. Folks commented to us about why we even cared since we were soon to be “out of here,” not acknowledging that regardless of our residential address, we are and will remain US citizens, with friends and family here and deep care and concern for the future of this country.
Our DC Swan Song
We determined to break away from the election coverage and turn our attention back to the twilight of our time in DC, one of the best places to spend time without spending lots of money. So we took advantage of drives through Shenandoah National Park to see the foliage, bike rides when the weather permitted on the Mt. Vernon Trail along the Potomac, eating at new restaurants, visiting various Smithsonian museums and more.
The time was also spent beginning our farewells – an amazing party in early November, hosted by dear friends, gathered many of our closest friends for a beautiful evening of Panamanian food, conversation and the sharing of memories as well as wishes for safe travels. Shortly after, Thanksgiving became a celebration of the holiday, of birthdays, and retirements as well as a family bon voyage to us, shared by 40+ family members from all over the country: California, Texas, New York, Cleveland, Chicago and more.
November, with farewells to friends, family and DC, was a sweet time. We edged closer to departure but with little time spent packing since we were in stasis – hovering between here and gone – and needed to keep our home mostly intact until the final push to pack and prepare the house for our furniture to be picked up by A Wider Circle, a local nonprofit which houses homeless and the displaced. We opted for donating our furniture and furnishings over selling for many reasons, not the least of which was the opportunity to have our life-long collection of belongings go to those who needed them. It was so gratifying to hear the good folks from A Wider Circle tell us that our things were in such good condition that they were sure the items would likely stay on their warehouse floor (where clients can make their selections) for only a day.
Packing and Moving
For the days between Thanksgiving and the pick up by A Wider Circle, nearly all of our time was spent packing and culling, and culling and packing, followed by schlepping and hauling both inside the house and to various locations outside. By the time were were finished with 4412 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC on December 8, we had made a minimum of 12 separate donations to Goodwill, the Priceless Gown Project (black tie dresses), A Wider Circle, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, The Animal Rescue League of Washington, DC. (linens, towels, etc.), Center for Urban Families (suits, coats and professional clothing), Edgewood/Brookland Family Support Collaborative (Wii system, TV, home theater sound system) and the Salvation Army. We also rented a UHaul truck and, on a separate occasion, a UHaul trailer, to haul items, arranged for bulk trash pickup, filled huge trash and recycling bins (multiple times), and surreptitiously tossed the last 2 items that remained in the truck – rejected by Goodwill – in a dumpster (not ours).
(Note: donation lists and receipts were scanned immediately upon receipt on our phones using the Genius Scan app and uploaded to Dropbox for ease of access when completing our tax returns for 2016).
Our Interim Crash-Pad
Since we were renting our home in DC and because I have parents who winter in Florida, we were able to avoid the challenge of precisely coordinating the departure from one residence to the beginning of a massive road trip. The beauty of having an interim place to crash and organize final trip gear was an enormous offset to the days of dawn-to-dusk physical work of the weeks leading up to the move. Thankfully, my parents have a large garage where we have plopped our trip gear and further culling and packing continues, largely by Roque, who has been tireless in his efforts, earning him many praises and the well earned title of “Packing King.” (The guy has this scarily uncanny ability to scan piles of belongings, sort them into organized and related piles/packages, and find room for them in every nook and cranny available to us inside and outside the truck – a skill set he has used on many occasions, to similar praise from others less biased than me). What started as tons of miscellaneous stuff thrown hastily into whatever last minute containers I could find (among which were 5 or so laundry baskets) evolved into neatly organized and practical bags and containers of things to be taken with us or left behind. Meanwhile, we were finding our way around an unfamiliar home, doing laundry, cancelling accounts, changing addresses, arranging for mail forwarding, attending social events, and making last minute purchases.
Perhaps this explains why I have not had time to post on this blog for weeks.
The End is Near
The physical demands have been great and the emotions we are experiencing as we begin our nomadic life are difficult to neatly express. Yes, there is growing excitement and some apprehension – just yesterday, I realized that if we chickened out of the trip now (or shortly into it), we would have very little in terms of possessions with which to begin a new brick-and-mortar-life, for example. Typically, Roque and I experience real excitement when we hit the road, whether it’s en route to an airport or getting on the road in the car/truck so I figure that the excitement will hit, in earnest, when we set out on December 26. For me, the major (identifiable) part of the swirling mixture of feelings as we near D-Day is gratitude. I am so grateful for the chance to take this trip and to have a life partner equally as keen on taking this trip and attending to all of the details needed to make it happen. I am grateful for the opportunity to see this country, to pace ourselves in whatever way works for us on a moment-by-moment basis, to visit friends located along our path and to make new friends, to be with my best friend and love of my life for uninterrupted days on end, and to visit places with names I don’t even know yet. I am grateful for our health – physical and financial. I am grateful for the many hours of planning, shopping, exploring, reading, and researching undertaken to prepare for the trip and our life on the road. I am grateful for the generosity of my parents’ loan of their home while we pack up the truck (and I believe that they are grateful for the things that we are bringing to them, forgotten when they left for their winter sojourn south).
Mostly, though, I am grateful for the support, love and well-wishes from our friends and our family who have created the opportunities for farewells that were nothing short of perfect. We may not know what lies ahead but we sure know what we have here and that will sustain us for the miles ahead and the distance between visits with the people who make our life here sweet, rewarding and fulfilling.