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In 11 days I leave for the longest vacation I’ve had since my honeymoon in 1991.  Actually, this trip is longer than my honeymoon because, despite my objections, my ex started a new job 4 months before our wedding, so he was limited in vacation days.  We were gone for 10 days, 4 of which were spent flying.

Someone asked me the other day when the last time was that I took a 14 day vacation.  I was stumped.  As I thought back over the years, the 1st one I got to was a trip I took out West with my family when I was 14 years old.   There have been short trips here and there, and in 2008 we took our children to the Dominican Republic for 6 days.  And I admit, I have spent copious amounts of time at the Jersey shore, which, as enjoyable as it is, definately does not fall into the “vacation” category.

In June this yoga/surfing/rescue dog retreat showed up on our bulletin board at the studio.  The price for 7 nights & 8 days, including meals, surfing lessons and boards, daily yoga classes and 4 trips to the local dog shelter was $629.  When one of my yoga buddies suggested we go I felt a chill.  It seemed too good to be true.  The furthest I’ve been from the  US is the Dominican Republic; or Jamaica.  We went back and forth, because she’s never done anything like this either.  We spent all of June texting and emailing.  One day it was YES, the next NO.  Back and forth we went.  Each time I said YES, she said NO, and vice versa.

Then a funny thing happened in my life.  Everything came together.  By mid July my house was being sold, I was settling on my new home, I had the work lined up that needed to be done on my new place, I had movers……it was all falling into place perfectly.  It was around this time I started to say YES more often than NO.

Before I could give my final YES though, I had to check with my family – was this crazy?  After all, we are heading to a country who has only been free of civil wars for 8 years.  Sri Lanka also suffered severely during the Tsunami of 2004 and continues to struggle rebuilding their coastlines.  There is a huge divide between classes and poverty galore.  There is also a roaring war on drugs, unlike any we’d ever see in the states.  I had to be insane to consider this, correct?  I asked everyone.

Fortunately, the people in my family know that I do not venture out of my comfort zone.  I believe it was with this in mind that they all jumped on this.  YES they each said.  Not one hesitated.  I deserved a vacation, I had earned a break, it was time to do something for myself and “where is Sri Lanka” – all ending with a resounding YES.  The day before the price was to increase to $790 my friend and I messaged the retreat leader and said “YES”.  The next day she had our checks.

Here is the funny part – up until about a week ago, any time I mentioned the trip to anyone in my family I was met with a “what trip?  Sri what?  What are you talking about?”.   I suppose this is a well deserved reputation, because even the retreat leader questioned my resolve.  She did not cash my check.  August came and went, September came and went and in the beginning of October I said to my traveling buddy, who knows the retreat leader better than I, what the heck?  Why hasn’t she cashed my check.  It turns out she didn’t think I was really going to go, and despite her usually strict no refund policy, she had no intention of taking my money.  How sweet is that?

It has been nerve wracking getting ready.  I had to renew my passport, which led to my trip to the dermatologist for botox – a story for another day.  I’ve had to learn way more than I ever anticipated.  I’ve learned that Sri Lanka, formerly part of India, still uses Rupees, which can only be obtained in India or Sri Lanka.  I’ve learned that while my phone won’t work there, I can purchase a dirt cheap sim card with 4G, and I can buy more data, dirt cheap, if I run out.  I’ve learned that while at the resort I can dress as I usually do, but traveling and touring I should cover my knees & shoulders; and everything in between, just to be clear.  I’ve learned there are 2 main languages in Sri Lanka but one is considered inferior and frowned upon.  I’ve learned that only monks can sit in the front of buses.  And so much more I’ve needed to figure out.

The most important lesson I’ve learned though is that I can do this!  One by one, the people around me have come to realize that this is for real, and they’ve started voicing concerns.  And it doesn’t bother me!  I am so sure that this is the right thing to do I am not worried about any of it!  I’m not afraid of the flight, or the difficulty communicating, or my lack of navigational skills, or my crazy particular diet, or my lungs or anything.  I am overwhelmed, not with fear as I would have been a year ago, but with excitement and glee.  For the first time since……..perhaps ever, I feel confident and sure of myself.

Don’t take me wrong – I fully anticipate things to go wrong at times.  I will get lost.  I will eat something that doesn’t agree with me and spend a day in the bathroom. I will have an asthma attack that will require a huge dose of prednisone.  And who knows what else.  I will get hit by the surf board – many, many times.  I might get bit by a dog.  I might become overwhelmed at times and wonder if I’ve done the right thing.

Each time I wonder if I’ve done the right thing, I’ll think of a family member who was so sure I would never do it they never even listened to what I was asking them.  I’ll think of their face, or their voice as they’ve come to the realization that I am doing this.  I’ll think of the comments like “wait…are you sure this is a good idea?” and “isn’t it dangerous there” and “you’re going where?  When are you doing that?  Did I know this” and I’ll remember, this funny thing happened to me on the way to becoming the new me.  This trip, that no one thought I’d ever take, including me, is actually happening.

The new me, in a crazy, radical twist, has shed her fear and feels like a teenager setting out on her 1st great adventure.  Apparently, that is the new me.

Oh – and the new me buzzed off all my hair, and will probably keep it this way.  The new me remembered how easy it was to take care of grooming when I was bald, and decided that was exactly the amount of effort I wanted to expend on grooming – next to none.

Yup.  That’s the new me.  With a fuzzy head that feels like a baby chick that people can’t keep their hands off of!  And damned – it’s exciting.

 

PS:  Turns out Bank of America was wrong when they said we owed more on the mortgage than originally told, and guess who just got the apology check?  Yup.  The new me.   Funny, eh?

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