"For months I didn't feel like even
thinking about this trip."
December 15, 2002
Tampa, Florida, USA
I'm as guilty as anyone of enjoying
the comfort and predictability of a nice paycheck, but it's also
a surefire way to make life blow by without your noticing.
I've been in Cincinnati for four years, more than
four times longer than I've lived anywhere else, and I was definitely
in a routine... even a rut. I would arrive home at night not able
to remember a single thing I did that day. When your life is so
routine that your unconscious mind can get through the day without
ever asking you for help, it's time for a change.
Lost Somewhere Scary"
I enjoy turning my life completely on its head occasionally and
just seeing what happens. Moving to a new city, quitting a job,
or just deliberately getting myself lost somewhere a little scary.
I think I come by that tendency honestly. My Mom's an offensive
line-woman for a full contact women's football team. She just bought a Harley, and Dad
just got back from an extended solo cross-country road trip.
I can tell you almost the exact day I decided to really
turn my life on its head. It was sometime in August of 2000, just
before I moved to a new apartment here in Cincinnati.
I'd just reluctantly signed a new contract to stay
at my job for at least a third year, and I was feeling a little
trapped. I'd spent the summer planning to leave Cincinnati, but
then stuck around when my employer asked me to re-up my contract.
It had always been in my mind one day to try to take a month or
two off so I could travel, but until that day it never occurred
to me that there was another way.
In a erueka-like moment of clarity I realized that
as often as I change jobs, instead of jumping straight from Cincinnati
to my next gig, I could throw in as long a trip as I want in between...
then look for a new job when I get back.
"I Was About to Start
Learning" I laid awake almost all night thinking about where I'd go,
when I'd leave, and what I'd need to do to get ready. I knew almost
nothing about the world outside North America and Western Europe
but was about to start learning.
I immediately stopped spending money. Like really
not spending any money. And after about four months of paying
off credit cards, with about a year to go till my planned departure,
I was ready to start socking cash away for the trip.
The next hurdle was my employer. I'd decided I wanted
to leave in March of 2002. The contract I'd signed gave me an out
during a two month window in the summer of 2001. But if I didn't
exercise that option at that time, I was locked in till the following
summer. I hoped the fact that I was not leaving for another TV job
and was giving a year's notice would make up for the pesky contractual
obligations. And it did. My boss first asked if he could come along,
then said it should be no problem to leave at that time.
"They Tie You Down
However They Can"
With that out of the way, all that was left was to make plans and
figure out how to make everything work. Our market economy and those
corporations have a way of punishing the minions who don't play
along with their game. Apartment leases, car payments, employment
contracts. They tie you down however they can and make it very expensive
to break out. I finally managed to trade my Jeep lease and make
a deal with my landlord to stay month-to-month for a while.
Then September 11 rolled around and changed my plans radically.
I should be careful here. If only the worst thing that happened
that day was that my travel plans were shot to hell, we'd all be
a lot better off. I know my inconvenience is inconsequential in
a broad context, but it's part of this story.
For months I didn't feel like even thinking
about this trip. My friends and coworkers asked all the time if
I still planned to go. My official line was that I was waiting till
the first of the year when I would re-evaluate everything. Truth
was I really didn't think I would go. It wasn't fear for my safety.
Part was uncertainty about the economy and whether it'd be impossible
to find a job when I got back. Part was uncertainty that there'd
be a world to see.
Although I gradually returned to the idea of this
trip, I've never completely invested myself in these plans. I keep
the mindset that it's a plan; it's what I hope to do. But you never
know what will happen, and everything's subject to change any minute.
As of July, 2002 I'm finishing the final pieces of
this website, along with hirejohn.com,
a site to help me find a job when I'm back. I'm also starting to
figure out the logistics of getting started. Final day at work,
how to move my stuff, plans for seeing friends and family in those
first days off.