The process of packing, moving things to storage, selling unused items, emptying my house, repairing all the neglected little things around the house, and cleaning the house and garage in order to rent it out during my planned one year absence was... in a word, awful. I vastly underestimated the length of time and the emotional toll this preparation would take. This is my cautionary tale.
I allowed myself just over 1 full week from my last day of work, June 6th to my flight date, June 15th. During this time I was completely miserable. I enlisted the help of a good friend, Don, and my boyfriend, Trevor and worked them both, and myself, like rented mules. Most days began at 8am and ended after 11pm, meals were typically fast food grabbed on the way to a hardware store for something that was forgotten. In this time we achieved so much, so much that I should have done earlier to avoid the last minute stress. We repaired the front steps outside the house (Doug was a HUGE help with this too), patched and touch-up-painted the walls, sanded, painted, and hung closet doors (mostly Don), replaced window screens, moved everything into storage, loaned it, donated it, gave it away, recycled, or threw it out, removed a non-functioning water feature from the backyard and filled in the hole, pruned and fertilized trees, and mowed the lawn. The night before my departure, I went to bed at 2am because it took right up until then to finish everything. For those of you who I wasn't able to schedule that last goodbye hug with, this is my excuse, and my apology. Thank you so much Jenny and Chris for planning and hosting my goodbye/birthday party which was such an amazing way to fit in a lot of goodbyes in a condensed timeframe! Thanks also Tyler and Edlyn for the use of your truck and trailer - what a timesaver!
The other thing I failed to fully appreciate was the emotional aspect. I went from gainfully employed with a cuddly cat and a comfortable bed and home to an unemployed, cat less, squatter sleeping on the floor (be it exhausted and fitfully on a very comfortable foam mattress) in a house which was in total disarray. The whole process was extremely overwhelming and left me emotionally raw and prone to crying jags at any time (not a totally new phenomena - right mom, Trev, Jenny?). This first really hit me when I delivered my cat to Doug to look after her for the year. This cat has loved me, kept me company while I wrote my Masters Thesis, watched TV with me, licked all my apple cores clean (hey, it's just her thing), made an appearance during every skype call with my parents, sister and niece, and slept with me almost every night for the past 10 years. When I dropped her off I felt my heart break. I know she's in excellent hands and will be well cared for and loved but I was surprised by how much it all hit me at that moment.
Throughout all of this, Trevor has been my heart and my rock. He made my problems his problems, found solutions, held me together when I was falling apart, and was there every step of the way. He is a very hardworker, calm, a perfectionist when it comes to household repairs and cleaning, a skilled drywall repairman, and was always ready with a hug and encouraging words when it felt impossible to finish everything... oh yeah, and he drives a big truck, has lots of tools, has a saw, and is an amazing handyman! He's the whole package and I love him with all my heart. He did all this knowing that I was leaving. He assures me I will see him again in a few (FEW) months when he joins me in the fall or winter but seeing the house empty, my departure feels very "permanent" even though I know I will be back. It was a very tearful goodbye at the airport.
My mom told me a quote (which, of course, triggered a crying jag) which I paraphrase;
"I travel to look for what I need, I return home to find what I love"