We leave for New Zealand in three days.
So in total avoidance and complete denial of this truth, I’ve been reading a lot, and I’ve come upon an important quote.
“She led him to the edge. She picked the deep end on purpose. They stood side by side, their toes curled over the edge. She looked at him, right in his eyes, and he looked at hers.
This was going to be fun.
One. Two. Three.
And so they jumped together.”
S’cute, right? Okay. If I have any ounce of street cred at all — which I don’t — I’ll probably lose it when I tell you where this quote is from.
Every bookworm has that comfy, tried-and-true, read-and-reread-a-zillion-times book(s) you use as a palette cleanser between new novels, right? This quote is from mine. And friends, mine is, and always has been…
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants WHAT OKAY WHAT FIGHT ME I’VE BASICALLY MEMORIZED ALL 5 BOOKS F*%@ING FIGHT ME.
This quote comes in Book 3 where one of the gals, Tibby, sneaks into a local swimming pool after-hours with her situationship boy. They’re standing at the edge of the deep end, stripped to their skivvies, about to jump in. To be clear, the gathered atmosphere of this moment is not sexy or rebellious; it’s actually tender as shit. (NTS: Tender as Shit, future band name.) And of course, the jump is ~symbolic~ of their agreement to Give Their Scary, Confusing, Yet Destiny-Laden Young Love a Chance.
Even though I’ve — again for the folks in the back — read all 5 Traveling Pants books seventy thousand times, I feel the Pants God (Ann Brashares) pat me on the head for different reasons every time. This time, I was in bed, and upon reading this quote, I looked tearily over at Peter(‘s sleeping, snoring, clueless azz).
Because even though we haven’t even left yet, just the process of planning this thing truly feels like we’ve hopped a life-fence, stripped down to our underthings, and are about to canonball into the deep end.
Hands squeezed. Toes curled. Mouth-breathing hord.
This whole trip was born from a lighthearted conversation about our shared love for travel — or, more specifically, a shared desire to see how the rest of the world does their various Thangs before either of us “settle down.” It was an I know, right, wouldn’t that be cool? feeling we carried around with us, like weird souvenir chocolate, never truly indulging in it but unable to put it away entirely.
Until one night, when our conversation took a turn that went something like:
Berna: Hey. I’ve been poking numbers and I think I can pay off my student loans entirely by, like, October 2017.
Peter: Huh. I can probably do that, too, if I calculate it right.
Berna: What? Cool. We should do something crazy if we pay off our loans at the same time. Like, lol, quit our jobs and do that thing where we live abroad for a while.
Peter: (looks up from his laptop with very serious, lit-up eyes) … Okay. I’d be down.
Berna: Haheheahah… heh… wait, foreal?
Ever since then, we’ve treated this wouldn’t dat be cute idea as a low-key secret military assignment. We took our time ticking off big-ticket items over the last few months, like actually buying our flights to New Zealand and putting in very long-lead notices at our jobs, while continuing our normal, busy lives. But actually leaving our jobs two weeks ago has kicked this whole mission into high gear, both logistically and emotionally. We no longer leave each other every morning to chase down separate work lives. We wake up every day, look at each other, and realize: This is our life now.
Shet’s gotten real. Shet’s gotten Certified Real. Shet’s taken some Real Pills and went to Real Camp and got its License in Realness. But I am so goddamn grateful to be doing this with a partner. (Who is also my squishy love obsession and best friend, but lemme spare you the jelly filling. For now.)
Planning a psychotic thing like this brings up a thousand different-sized questions per minute, from “Why the Christ do I have to refrigerate typhoid medicine?” to “Am I actually f@*%ing up my whole life right now?” The amount of logistical rubix cubes that pile up could snap an anxious planner-type like me into pieces. But doing this with a co-pilot not only means the anxiety is shared — the whole thing turns into a truly dope exercise in trust, communication and imagination.
Peter pulls me out of the cyclones in my brain. I latch onto one multi-branch question like, “We have 9 hours to kill in Beijing, so…?” But with Peter armed with his laptop next to mine, I get help combing through everything, finding way better perspectives and approaches than I would’ve considered alone. When he gets overwhelmed by too many Reddit opinions, I pick it up with new energy; when my fourth Amazon package goes missing and I’m about to chat-strangle a customer service rep, he talks me down and calmly takes over. And every logistical puzzle feels less like a burden to shoulder; it feels more like an unshaped ball of clay that he and I pass between each other until it feels right to us.
A RTW-travel friend told me that traveling with your partner puts a magnifying glass to your entire relationship. That’s got to be true even for the planning stage; I feel like we’ve learned more about each other in the last three weeks of research, errands, stress and exhilaration than in the last six months. I feel like we’ve built more together, too. I feel deeper and stronger about us, and prouder when I look at him. The very act of jumping — of deciding to quit regular life, of stripping down to vulnerable financial and emotional places, of answering a thousand different questions together as we launch ourselves into the unknown — has felt like a whole shared journey on its own.
It feels bigger than we imagined already. And the best part is that we’ve barely begun; we don’t know what we don’t know, but we’re in awe of what we’ve learned so far. I’m rocked by wonder at how we might feel about ourselves, each other, and the general world by the end of this thing.
One, two, three.
This is going to be fun.