We moved out of our apartment today. Now we really are homeless hapas.
Today was nearly perfect. It was my last day of work before a week-long vacation. I met up with one of my best friends for dinner and a Giants-A’s game. And then I hung out with some friends afterwards. But I’ve also had to say goodbye to a lot of friends this week. Nonetheless, our departure is giving us a good excuse to spend some quality time with a lot of people.
We started packing up the apartment over a month ago. The first things to be packed were the books, slowly followed by pictures, dishes, and clothes. There are more boxes of our belongings than I expected, and also more bags of trash. Isn’t strange how much stuff can gather in cupboards and closets that have no use? Today I packed the final boxes, mostly kitchen items with a few random things thrown in to fill up the empty nooks and crannies. As I sealed the tape on the final box, I wondered where would I be when I am unpacking them. Will I remember what I put in them? The trip hasn’t started, and yet I am already thinking about what it will be like when I come back. Don’t we all wonder what the future holds in store? I do wonder, but I am ok with waiting 2 years to find out. Goodbye little apartment in San Leandro; so long noisy Davis Street!
Everyday my commuter train passes a hill blanketed with crosses; a memorial to the American soldiers who’ve died in Iraq. Along with a grave marker for each soldier killed, a sign displays the total number as well.
Today, I decided to check it out on the way to work. I hopped off my train a stop early and walked to the hill. It was a pretty sobering sight. Just the sheer amount of crosses was unbelievable. The sign read 3503. There were crosses, Stars of David, Islamic crescents, rainbow colored crosses, crosses with names and pictures, all symbolizing the life lost. The hill reminded me how costly war really is. It was also sobering to think that American life accounts for less than 10% of the lives lost in Iraq.
During our travels, it will be interesting to learn about other’s perspectives of the US and its foreign policy. When I lived in India during 2004, I met several Afghan refugees who gave me a much better perspective on events going on in Afghanistan than watching congressional rhetoric on TV. Hopefully, Joylani and I will both gain some perspective on this trip.
My office team had its weekly softball game tonight. We won big and I was a triple shy of the cycle. I’m gonna miss playing on the G-WIMs. We’re co-ed and in the least competitive league, but its fun. In fact we lost our first five games. Before our sixth game our manager brought a bucket of beers, figuring that at least we should have fun. Well, we won. And now we drink a beer or two before every game. We’re actually 3-1 since the tradition began. I’m going to miss cheering for and ragging on all my coworkers. When else can I yell at my boss or hear my office chant my name? The game is always a hot topic on Wednesday mornings; who had big hits, who made errors, the key plays of the game. I’m gonna miss going across the street for pizza and beer to celebrate our wins or commiserate about our losses. Part of it is that I’m gonna miss playing sports regularly and part of it is I’m gonna miss my teammates/colleagues that I’ve gotten to know and befriended over the past year.
Through a juggling of vacation days and personal days, today was my last Monday at work. The last of the hardest day of the week. The hardest morning of the week. Nothing sounds worse than alarm clock after a weekend of late nights and lazy mornings. Instead of a day of work, I have a week of work. The traffic is the worst and the trains are the most crowded. I don’t know why everyone’s in a rush; there’s always more e-mails and voicemails on Monday mornings. People move slower on Mondays; their attitudes dampened and moods depressed. Such a contrast from the Friday before. I hate Mondays.
But today was the last time I had to work on a Monday for a couple years and that made it a bit easier to bear
I packed all my ties today. I packed a lot of other stuff today also, but packing the ties was the most symbolic. As I sealed a box full of dress shirts, slacks, and ties, I realized that I’m actually abandoning the corporate life. Along with my business clothes, I’m putting my career on the shelf for a couple years. I guess it hasn’t hit me yet- packing the clothes was just another step. It stirred both fear and excitement. Fear that I’m leaving a job I like and the security that comes with employment. The excitement for obvious reasons. Joylani describes the feeling as the end of finals, just before summer vacation. Contrasting the professional life with that of a vagabond is too beyond the scope of this blog, but I realized today that the transition has begun.
As word spreads around the office that I’m leaving, I’m getting two different types of responses. Some people start asking about my finances, while others tell me its a great idea.
Over the past few days, I’ve been asked if: I’m independently wealthy, a trust-fund kid, just inherited some money, or just how can I afford such a trip. Although I think the questions are kind of ridiculous, I just tell them the truth: “No, we’ve just been working and saving for the last couple years.” I usually reiterate that Asia is cheap, Joylani and I have been saving our two incomes for two years, and I don’t have a mortgage or big expenses. Its pretty simple, but for some reason, these people think you must be rich to travel.
Other people tell me that I’m smart or wise, for taking the time to travel while I can. They say its a great plan, because I’ll have my whole life to work. And while I may have more money and financial security to travel later, kids and career will tie me down. It seems that there’s a correlation between peoples’ age and the extend to which they think our trip is a good idea. This trip has been inspired and supported by people older and wiser than us, who have told us to travel while we can, not to put it off, and enjoy it.