But since June, my life has been all about countdowns. All during the workday I focus on the dwindling hours until 5:00. On Monday evening, I think, Just do that four more times. Then there were the countdowns to Thanksgiving and Christmas, which brought longer respites from work, dirty laundry, and feeding myself.
This week-- my first full week back since before Christmas-- was chock full of unexpected turns of events. I turned in a fellowship application (you’ll know when I know), landed my first paid writing gig (freelance ad copy for a small company), and finally got a position as a volunteer ESL tutor (after completing the training in October). If those weren’t big enough causes for excitement, I finally acted with some (planned) spontaneity and made some plans.
Last week I was chatting with Abbie, one of my best friends from the Oxford days. We started reminiscing and wishing I could come visit, and I started to casually look into plane tickets. By Monday, I’d secured the funds and my boss’s blessing, and I booked my ticket for the first week of March. I’m going back to Oxford in 48 days.
In the midst of that process, my dad gently told me that my sister was feeling quite neglected. I had made vague promises to visit her at Baylor, but hadn’t done any research into plane tickets. When my dad told me her feelings were hurt, my heart dropped into my stomach. Being the self-centered girl that I am, I hadn’t even considered that my enthusiasm for going to England would communicate to my sister that I didn’t care to come see her. On Monday, before purchasing my ticket to England, I bought a plane ticket to Texas. I’m going to infiltrate my sister’s college life in 42 days.
The day after booking the tickets, I had a sudden, panicky feeling that I’d book my trip to England on the day I was supposed to see The Avett Brothers in Wichita with my right-hand man. I whipped out my planner and rifled through it, tearing a page in the process. The concert is in 58 days.
Have you noticed how close together these countdowns are? All three of those trips are happening inside a 17-day span. Just writing down my itineraries made me almost dizzy with joy.
It’s as the Roman philosopher Seneca said: “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.”
As for me, the anticipation of traveling, of seeing new and familiar things, of reuniting with beloved faces, has already brought renewed vigor to my days.