Oct 15 2008

Half-Empty

Published by at 12:23 am under Travel

Here’s what I hate about traveling:

  • Paying bills
  • Paying two-and-a-half months’ worth of bills in advance with imaginary money
  • Saying goodbye to people I love, which is what I did on my way home from the Sacramento Airport the night before last
  • Saying goodbye when it’ll be a long separation
  • Packing
  • Unpacking in search of something I’ve forgotten whether or not I’ve packed
  • Tying up loose ends at work
  • Trying to divine which of the ends that are neatly bound now will unravel the moment I go
  • Misplacing things
  • Realizing that misplaced things are not misplaced but Truly Lost. I’m down three Canon lithium batteries, a box of family photos and a sponge.

It’s always like this right before I go on a long trip: I wonder why I ever thought the whole thing was such a great idea.

I really should be packing and paying bills and issuing invoices and putting work projects to bed. I’ll make this quick.

When I got back from Sacramento I noticed from my bedroom window a few glowing orange dots on a hillside across the Bay. Minutes later they had merged into a brilliant mass. Angel Island on fire.

Yesterday Anna and I took our final hike up Marin Avenue. It’s been over a year since we started our ritual slogging up that precipitous mile, an attempt to get my little legs ready for trekking. She gave me a bracelet so I can keep her with me in the Himalaya, and then she helped me pack.

Claudia came over tonight to wash away the gray. My hair is now very, very dark. I don’t recognize myself.

To kick off my chronicle of my Nepal adventure I’ll post the farewell letter I sent to a bunch of my friends this morning.

To my dear, tolerant friends who put up with me even though I hardly ever write or call and even though I am sending this as an impersonal, group e-mail,

It’s been over a year of waiting but the time is almost here. I’m scheduled to leave for Nepal tomorrow night. I was going to throw myself a farewell party but I forgot.

I’ll be gone till just before Thanksgiving, during which time I hope to take a one- or two-week trek through Annapurna Sanctuary, raft for three days down the Kali Gandaki (ominously named after the Hindu goddess of destruction), celebrate Kukur Tihar by helping decorate stray dogs in Kathmandu, hopefully explore Tibet, see the usual tourist sights in Kathmandu from temples to funeral pyres on the river, and who knows whatall.

I’m already homesick for you all, so if you have time and even the smallest sense of human decency, please write to me. I would love hearing from you. While I’m there, Internet access will be sporadic so if I don’t answer right away … well, you’re used to that…

Is anyone free to take me to the SF airport tomorrow (Wed. 10/15), leaving the East Bay 10 pm-ish? (Flight is around 1:00 am. Ugh.).

My mother just called to say goodbye. She sounded worried.

—“I may never see you again.”
—”Why not?” I wondered.
—“You might get eaten by yaks. Or yetis.  But really I’m not so much worried about what will eat you as I am that you will be eaten.

Within a few hours, I had plenty of rides to the airport and a couple dozen bon voyage messages. Once again, I am struck by what good friends I have. I pasted all their greetings into a big document that I’m going to print and bring with me. When I’m all by myself in a strange place it’ll remind me of my good fortune.

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