Packing to leave, what a chore! It’s an activity my friend Mason calls “the p-word,” and one that’s an ongoing part of my life. The task is necessary to satisfy the travel bug inherited from my grandmothers. It requires projecting oneself into an unknown future, and I typically postpone it until just days before a major trip.
Taking ten months away requires thoughtful preparation. So, over the past weeks, I’ve labored to anticipate what I’ll need in Dublin. I’ve worked calmly and methodically, and at times I’ve even enjoyed the process. But who can predict a year’s worth of needs? And, isn’t uncertainty part of the fun?
A product of 1970 (born just months after Americans landed on the moon), I came into the world at an optimal time for making trans-Atlantic jaunts. I feel blessed every time I board a plane, and so very fortunate to have such opportunities in life. It’s the packing part, however, that stands between each new adventure and me.
At least this time, I have a fair idea of what to expect in that I’ve been to Dublin several times before. It’s been easier than the last time I headed overseas for an extended period. Departing for Switzerland in 1996, I had $1500 and a round trip airline ticket but no place to live, no job lined up, and only the foggiest notion of how to find accommodation and employment. Projecting myself into that unknown future was the scariest thing I have ever done. The world economy was in despair, and my architecture professors clearly feared the worst for me. I continually reminded myself that I had a ticket home. I’d use it when the money ran out (which it did just days before my first paycheck arrived).
But I had an unstoppable urge to travel. I saw an open window of opportunity that I simply had to take. With a new Master’s diploma, I was free to fly. I jumped through that window of opportunity into a bright new world, landing on my feet.
During my second week in Switzerland, I snagged an architecture position in the Italian-speaking region called Ticino. And somehow, at my deepest moment of doubt and worry, a teensy-tiny studio apartment materialized. It was one that I could afford.
When I returned home 12 months later, I was a wiser, more fulfilled person.
Today’s Internet tools have made visualizing the future much easier. And this time I have an extensive support system in place. Many thanks to the Dublin Institute of Technology, Fulbright Ireland, the US State Department, Hampton University, and Dave Chance for helping make all this possible — and to Colleen, Gavin, Sima, Brian, and Mike for extending the invitation to collaborate. This time, I know where I’ll work and what I’ll do. I have people to see and projects to do. I know how I’ll make ends meet. This time I had the Internet tools to make apartment hunting fun.
All I need now is to clamp my suitcases shut and head out the door with my Dave….