Ask Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams and he’d tell you 42 is the “Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.”
It’s also the answer to “When does Steff give up having a home, and take on the life of the aimless digital nomad?”
On my 42nd birthday precisely, I’ll turn in the last set of housekeys I will own for half a decade.
I once told a friend that I always thought the number of keys you had on your keychain was indicative of how complicated your life is. Come five months today, I won’t have any keys at all. Talk about oversimplifying, man. School of Thoreau up in here. Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Five months today, I’ll be “homeless.” I’ll be 6 days from leaving my hometown too.
I officially bought airplane tickets. Yep. Gots me an itinerary now, minions. Imagine that! I’ll leave Victoria for Vancouver, spend six days saying goodbye to every person I can cram in, and then off to London to hang with an old friend and see the Queen’s city his way, and finally I’ll be in Zagreb, where I’ve decided to officially start my life abroad.
The feeling I got after buying those two tickets this week, god, I wish they sold that on every corner. It’d be like John Lennon’s “Imagine” every freakin’ day.
As if that high wasn’t good enough, for some reason I thought I’d go check the calendar to see how many extra days I’d have to ask for to get a proper breather after landing in Zagreb, prepared to ask for four to five more days off, and then I realized I’d somehow brilliantly requested 3 weeks off for the start of All Things Travel.
I’ll be off work from September 24th to October 19th, giving me TEN DAYS to start my adventure on the other side of the Atlantic — after three days in London and six days saying goodbye to all my family, that is!
Once I realized that, I laughed so hard I nearly cried. I couldn’t breathe.
An actual vacation to start my new life, people! It’s… oh, so wonderful.
Better Late Than Early
I wanted to travel when I was young. I’m sure that would have been wonderful. I’m envious of the people I know who were in their 20s and lived that life. What a great joy for them.
But I have no regrets. It didn’t work out for me. Life got hard. Adversity rained down for a while.
And I am so glad it did. I absolutely know, more than you will ever understand, how incredibly, mind-blowingly, ecstatically fortunate a woman I am that this will be my life. I worked for this. I earned this in every conceivable way. That I know, too. It ain’t just luck. I chose this. Hey, you can choose it too, if you can figure out a way to telecommute.
I know now, when it comes to times of feeling alone or challenged on the road, that I’ve been through worse isolation and challenges in my past. It won’t hold a candle. I’ll suck it up, sleep it off, and remember the great fortune I’m bless with.
Under no circumstances will travel be all sunshine and roses, but when is life ever? How often do you get to experience adversity surrounded by a living, waking moment of your life’s dream? How many of us get to have that kind of a duality when we’re under duress?
More than struggle, I’ll have wonderful life-changing, life-affirming moments. Often. I’ll have the first real freedom in my life to devote unending hours to my writing. I’ll be surrounded by inspiration EVERY SINGLE DAY.
I’m over the moon. This is the start of a dream I wasn’t brave enough to dream, let alone dare to make reality. Who in the hell am I? When did I become this woman? What alien mind probe led me to this?
Holy cow, man. I think we all have an idealized version of ourselves in our minds. Who among us hits all the notes? I don’t know. The nature of me being me, though, means I’m usually falling short of who I would like to be. That’s humanity, right?
But tonight, I’m all that. I’m the girl who slammed her money on the table and said I was all in. I’m the one who said “Home? I don’t need no stinking home!” and opted to give up a homelife a lot of people think looks like a magazine spread, a home I’ve spent 15 years trying to achieve.
Well, I achieved it, and now it’s on to the exact opposite: A different magazine spread. This time, the magazine spread’s gonna be something I wrote, something I photographed, something I lived. Or that’s the goal.
And today I set the foundation for that. I bought the tickets. I finalized vacation dates. I’m on it.
And Then There Was A Plan
How’s it gonna roll, apart from Vancouver to London to Zagreb? Zagreb is looking like 2 weeks. Maybe three. Car rentals are a lot more expensive in Zagreb, so I’m less inclined to do explorations.
Next after that, though, is a town I think I’ll unearth my soul in. I’ll have a car for the whole time I’m there. Parts of the town date back to the 1st century. Most of it began to emerge in the 10th to 12th centuries. The walls around it were erected somewhere around the 13th century by Venetian overlords. In 1945, it passed hands from Italy to Croatia/Yugoslavia. It’s a pasta haven, one of the world’s top truffle regions, and in the world’s top 10 wine regions, and grapes have grown there for over 2,000 years.
It’s a town called Motovun, with 583 people and 10 restaurants/cafes. Of those, 5 of the restaurants have 4+ stars on TripAdvisor. One has a view I dreamt of myself sitting there with a sweater and wine and my laptop and pasta and writing about how I’d found heaven and it tasted like cheese. Seriously, I dreamed about it two nights in a row.
After that, Zadar.
Despite yet MORE people trying to talk me into speedier trips, I’m ignoring them all. Three weeks in each. Easy. Why? Because I can.
I’m going to live in a centuries-old loft on the top of a mountain in a medieval town with under 1,000 people and a writing desk in a corner between 2 windows with 180 degree views of one of the most glorious little valleys I’ve ever seen.
And you think I should RUSH IT? I’m a WRITER. We LIVE AND DIE for these moments.
The way a racecar driver feels about taking a curve at 150km an hour, that’s how I feel about sitting THERE with my laptop. Seriously. It’s *that* good.
The only question is whether I stay for four weeks. If it had more restaurants, I would.
Mind = Blown
It’s crazy, man. This is happening. I’ve got my luggage. I’ve got my tickets. I’ve got an itinerary. I’ve got a car rental quote. I mean… it’s happening. I’ve figured out a moving day strategy. I know what I need to sell, and when, to meet my budget. I know what I’m cool with driving to charity that day. I’ve got my friends I’ve asked for help — all the same ones who moved me here. To finish what we started.
Everything is coming together. It’s less crazy. Still intense, but a roadmap is emerging.
I didn’t want to plan everything out for the actual trip, but I’m feeling more confident that I’m getting a loose structure together. Knowing I’ll have three weeks to write and photograph that incredible valley, for instance, is all the inspiration I need — let alone 3 weeks in Zagreb, at least two planned train trips in the first month, and three weeks in a town Alfred Hitchcock pronounced to have the most beautiful sunset in the world, even better than the Florida Keys.
Yeah, the planning thing is working out for me. In fact, it now has me thinking I don’t even want to reach out to tourism boards, that I’d rather just do my own research and find amazing little places that I want to see and plan the duration according to my wants.
It’s rewarding, it’s nerdy, it’s fun. It’s me. I like the research. I don’t want my time planned for me. That messes with listening to the wind, y’know?
This is me, this week. Exploding with bubbling happy travel thoughts and mindblown “Is this really me?” stuff.
There’s no way I could’ve known what this adventure beginning would feel like, but if this week is any indication, it’s gonna be an incredibly intoxicating life for quite some time. I’m not even living in my dream yet and I keep feeling like I need to wake up. (So much so that when I do sleep, I keep waking up.)
I appreciate the enthusiasm my friends and followers and readers have shown this week. I can’t wait to bring you all along for the ride.
Instead of rapid-flashing snapshots of places, I will be fully immersing us both in an actual experience of being somewhere, living somewhere, and knowing the people.
I could keep writing. But I won’t — not right now. I can’t wait to bring you along on this journey. Morning/night writing will never have been so rewarding. All this, coming soon to a Steff not-so-near you — a little older, a little further flung, and a whole lot wiser.
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